Day 3 of my ‘Five Day Challenge’ – It always amazes me just how popular Halloween is becoming. Halloween parties are becoming increasingly fashionable, even for the youngest of children. Parent Teacher Associations in our primary schools are organising Halloween Discos – is this because Halloween is worth ‘celebrating’ or is it a good way to make money for the school? I noticed in the news recently that a Church of England primary school found themselves in a dilemma – the PTA wanted to organise a Halloween Party in the school but the Church Governors were, understandably, uncomfortable with the theme. The compromise was to call it ‘A Dressing Up In Scary Costumes Party’!!
I have a vision of all of these young children being dressed up as witches, skeletons, zombies, etc. so that they can go to the party. If they carry a skull or have blood trickling down their face, even better. You can see the competition between the mums – whose child is going to look the scariest? Whose 6 inch bloody gash across the head or half severed head will look the most realistic? When the children arrive at the ‘party’ they will find the place in darkness with lots of ghoulish noises coming from somewhere in the gloom. Parents in charge of the catering will have been doing their best to make the sandwiches look as if they are oozing blood or have plates full of ‘things’ that look neither appetizing nor healthy. Everything will be washed down with glasses of brightly glowing drinks. Some children will enjoy all of this, but I feel for the poor souls who are scared stiff and wondering why their parents have left them in this place.
The shops are, of course, taking full advantage of this craze. As well as buying the plastic fangs or witches hat and cape, you can now buy full-sized, realistic skulls, or large headstones or full-sized zombie characters with accompanying realistic noises! Why? Where on earth do you put these things when you get them home?
Yesterday I walked past an ‘Old Peoples Home’ (Are you allowed to call them this now? Should it be Senior Citizens Care Home? Anyway you know what I mean) and noticed that someone had decorated the communal room with hanging skeletons and bats, hollowed out pumpkins and pictures of zombies. I can’t imagine that this is the work of the residents. Instead it is more likely to have been done by the young care workers who are probably organising a surprise Halloween Lunchtime Disco for the unsuspecting residents. This could just be that final step too far for some, especially those with weak hearts!
Once they have finished with their party many of these youngsters will go and play ‘Trick or Treat’. I’ve never really understood this custom and always assumed that it was yet another idea that had come across the ‘Pond’ from America. In fact it’s a home-grown tradition going back as far as the Middle Ages. Apparently it resembles the medieval practice of souling, when poor folk would go from door to door on Hallowmas (November 1st) receiving food in return for prayers for the dead on All Souls Day. Nowadays it seems more like begging with menaces! When the ghouls, zombies, witches and friends knock on my door tonight I will be tempted to send them away empty-handed and see what happens! It never fails to amaze me that the same parents who allow their children knocking on the doors of strangers, on a dark night, begging in scary costumes are the same parents who are afraid to let their children travel to school tomorrow morning with their friends!
Time for me to finish this post – I’m sounding like one of those ‘grumpy old men!’