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Tony Grist

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Halloween And Guy Fawkes Night [Oct. 31st, 2011|09:55 am]
Tony Grist
Last night we received our first trick or treaters in three years. There was a pair of them. I filled their outstretched paws with choccy delights and then one of them asked if he could have more. Greedy little oik!

One of my American friends was surprised to hear that British kids trick or treat on the nights leading up to Halloween. I think this stretching of the feast is to do with the conflation of Halloween and Bonfire Night. In the olden days- which aren't actually so long ago- when Bonfire Night still mattered, kids used to trek round the streets in the weeks before November  5, carting an effigy of poor old Guy Fawkes, demanding "A Penny for the Guy". Now they trick or treat instead, but because it was valid to treat Bonfire Night as a season they do the same with Halloween.

Meanwhile, Guy Fawkes has mutated- thanks to V for Vendetta- from a scruffy old Jacobean with straw coming our of his sleeves into an ultra-cool symbol of protest and resistance. Look at photos of the Occupy London crowd and you're likely to spot several people wearing the mask from the movie- with the pointy beard and the sinister-cum-jocular grin.

[User Picture]From: michaleen
2011-11-02 12:12 pm (UTC)
I have heard various explanations. Among other things, emphasis has shifted to parties for the young on Halloween, often sponsored or encouraged by the police. It's a more-or-less sensible alternative and I must say you don't see nearly so much vandalism today as you did when I was a kid. Our local merchants had trick-or-treating downtown on Monday afternoon, too, so that steals a bit of the thunder, I'm sure.

Personally, I blame the decline of Halloween on the breakdown of communal society or the narcissistic tendencies encouraged by our modern technology.

This year could have been just a statistical fluctuation, too. I heard from a fellow in West Virginia, in a town a couple of hours from here, that said he had at least twice as many kids this year as last year, despite a cold drizzle coming down.
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