Of all the holidays, Halloween is my favorite. Without a question. I think that for many of those who read this, they would find Halloween to be at least in their top three holidays. It has all of the main components that people think of when trying to asses the quality of a holiday. As a youth you enjoy the candy and pumpkin carving. As a teenager you enjoy the race of going to every house in a five mile square radius. As a young adult you enjoy the sexy costumes that your female companions feel obliged to wear. As a parent you enjoy the candy your children gather for you as well as scaring the shit out of little kids that show up on your doorstep as you jump out of a dark corner with candy in your hands. It is a life long enjoyment that changes with the ages. However in England, the country trying so hard to emulate the United States, Halloween remains to be a major holiday and for this they will never attain their goal of becoming a global power.
In England, a costume party is called a fancy dress party. It does not matter if the dress is truly fancy or not, that is just what they call it. From what I can tell, the English appreciate a fancy dress party. My cousin and her boyfriend have half a dozen boxes clearly labelled full of fancy dress costumes. From “asexual” to “giant parrot” to “zorro”. But did they dres sup for Halloween, no.
In the early hours of the evening, as the sun went down, I turned all the front lights on at the house, found some ancient chocolate that was individually wrapped, and prepared for the wee littluns and their parents to knock on our heavy door hanger and trick or treat Panshangar, the house I am living at now. Did any come? No. I felt dejected and inadequate. I wondered why this happened. Was it the fact that our front door is not right on the road? Is it the fact that I did not have a haunted house sign out front to lure them in? Was it the fact that our street is poorly lit? Hmmm…
Well tonight I heard the opinion of some true life English. They explained to me that it was mandatory to put a lit pumpkin in the front of your house to indicate that you were ready to give candy. They estimated that only about 34% of houses actually participate in Halloween, and that was in a good neighborhood. What else did they tell me? “When kids have masks on, it can be very worrisome to open your door to these possible hoodlums.” “Who knows who will open up the door if they only have their lights on and not a pumpkin?” “I think some people would be really annoyed if people came to their house and asked for candy. Especially a 13 year old.” And on and on.
Basically the English are some of the most frightened people on the planet. They will never approach a problem and solve it. They would rather just write a nasty, but very polite, letter. Should anyone ever be injured by anything, that thing will be banned, and a letter will be written to all parties involved, and many that were not, to inform them of how atrocious it is that we allowed this bag of leaves to be left out on the road for this dog to trip and choke himself on his collar.
“Health and Safety” is the most powerful phrase that can be muttered in the English social context. If a trashman leaves a bin (trashcan) half way on the road and a car has to swerve around it, the local newspapers will be notified and they will proceed to make front page headlines. The local MP (government person) will then have to make a statement saying that a committee has been set up to look into this problem. Several months later, a decision will be made that trashmen need to carefully place bins inside an arbitrarily made box that has been spray painted on the outside of everyone’s driveway. The trashmen will then notify the world that this will cause a significant reduction in the amount of houses that they can accommodate in a day. The people will then wonder why all this is happening since they have forgotten about why all this happened in the first place. Another letter will be written to the MP to complain that the square painted on their driveway has infected the acer tree and caused it to wilt it’s leaves unusually early. The MP will then introduce a ban on spray paint to be used for the squares and replace it with large orange cones. After a year everyone will have just gotten used to this rather ridiculous and awkard situation even though they only have their trash picked up twice a month. A trashcan will then be damaged by a large orange cone and another letter will be written. And so on…
I remember growing up on a jungle gym at the local park. We would play king of the mountain on a 30 foot tall piece of metal that was padded with sharp gritty sand. A letter was written, and now any jungle gym must be under five feet tall and large foam squares must be underneath it. Merry-go-rounds do not exist anymore. Giant sling shots have lost their place in local school grounds. Damn these letters people, damn them.
Now, not all English are destroying the Halloween spirit. I am sure there was many an English group of chaps dressed up as ninjas and there was a plethora of semi hot girls wearing very short nurse/witch/cat/vampire outfits. But in general, Halloween is lost on this tiny island.
English!! You are missing the days of wearing the same soccer outfit, same one you wore for your weekend games, for three years in a row even though it didn’t fit you any more. You are missing wearing a Hunter S. Thompson outfit and taking on the persona of the costume that you are wearing. You are missing wearing the same doctor patient outfit that shows your ass for two years in a row because you hung out with different people each year. You are missing a chance to add the 36th bank holiday to your calendar. Get a grip English and join in. It does not matter that no one really knows why you dress up. Get a grip!