Scary but true

Although Hallowe’en celebrations have suffered the same fate as so many of our customs by becoming Americanised almost beyond recognition, we still like to celebrate the festival in our house. Somehow it feels right to acknowledge the longer nights and colder mornings by keeping in tune with the ways of our forebears.

The celebration often ends up combining with another popular event – Bonfire Night. The origins of this custom are ancient as well; the bonfires were “banefires” or “bonefires” and were lit to keep evil spirits in check and the gods appeased. But then the Gunpowder Plot came along and suddenly the fires were there to burn other things and later to bake potatoes while we watched the fireworks. Whatever. Sic transit gloria mundi.

I’m not sure the children still learn the rhyme, but we were taught it as soon as we started school:

Remember, remember the 5th of November

Gunpowder, treason and plot

I see no reason

Why gunpowder treason

Ever should be forgot

Consensus these days is that celebrating the torture and death of a religious fundamentalist by burning their effigy is not really very nice. At least, I think that’s the consensus. Sometimes it’s hard to tell with the screaming and raving haemorrhaging from the red-tops.

Either way it still leaves me with apple bobbing, pumpkin carving, cinder toffee and the opportunity to frighten little kids half to death without fear of recrimination. What more could you want from an evening at home?

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