Halloween in London

Old Sep 19th, 2005, 05:38 PM
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Halloween in London

Will be in London this year on Halloween. In 1998, I was in London in early October and, while riding in a black cab, one in my group asked what went on in London for Halloween. The cab driver said, "It's never really caught on here."

Is this true? Is there anything going in London I could see? I was thinking I might rent a couple of costumed children and go trick-or-treating, room by room, at the Dorchester and see how long before security tosses us out.
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Old Sep 19th, 2005, 05:53 PM
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Well there's the International Halloween Festival going on in St Mary's College in London this year so maybe it's caught on by now.
Actually the phrase 'caught on' that your taxi driver was talking about in 1998 was probably trick or treat style fun and games rather than the historic celebration of the coming of winter, the darkening of nights, and All Hallows Eve that 'caught on' over here centuries ago (in fact the whole thing is pre-Christian). Well today it'll be just like that scene in E.T without the E.T creature, or probably with him, I don't know!! There will be stuff to do and I hope some children to rent. Try redundant chimney sweeps Ltd, they have a few young boys doing nothing at the moment.
Oh, and when I was a kid we never had a pumpkin up North, Dad always got us a turnip and I never even knew!!
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Old Sep 19th, 2005, 11:12 PM
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There are a number of Hallowe'en rituals in London:

- there's our ancient tradition of going into supermarkets, looking at the piles of pumpkins with their conveniently merchandised face cutting kits and wondering what on earth the point of them is. They're always there and there's no recorded example of any customer ever being seen buying one.

- then there's the great Euromoan. November 1 is a public holiday in a lot of traditionally Catholic Europe, and one of their great Hallowe'en traditions is taking the day before off as a holiday as well ("fare il ponte" the Italians call it) and weekending here. So the place gets stuffed with Milanese on the day they all put on their Loden coats for the winter. How it's possible to get a reputation for cutting-edge fashion and still wear Loden coats is one of those great mysteries we all contemplate on long winter nights

- most of all there's the traditional street song of "Gets earlier every year" Retailers have always got their Christmas stuff out by November 1 (50 years ago, the official start of Christmas - the day Father Christmas opened the grotto at Lewis's in Liverpol - was always the last Saturday in October). But we still all moan about it, and Hallowe'en is the day the moan gets loudest.

But that's about it.
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Old Sep 20th, 2005, 12:09 AM
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And let's not forget, also, that Halloween is a little too close to a much bigger event in England - Bonfire Night (aka Guy Fawkes) on and around November 5th - our longest running annual festival, been going every year since 1606. (yes, it's been going continuosly even longer than Christmas, as Cromwell cancelled Christmas in the mid-1600s).

'Some' children do the dressing up and knocking on doors thing on Halloween, but that's about it.
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Old Sep 20th, 2005, 12:39 AM
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I personally find the whole notion of 'Trick-or-Treat' totally and utterly abhorrent, and would outlaw it immediately should I have the opportunity. It teaches children that it's OK to go around begging and that if they don't get what they want then they are within their rights to behave like little vandals.

Halloween is not a big deal here, though I have in the past done a few ghost oriented activities like London ghost walks or spending the night in the graveyard of England's allegedly most haunted village, Pluckley in Kent. I was 15 and nothing happened other than acquiring a most astonishing hangover and looking like a ghoul at school the following day.
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Old Sep 20th, 2005, 01:19 AM
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Halloween is one of those festivals that was taken to the US and has returned transformed.

In the South of England, the American version is becoming popular and I agree that Trick-or-Treat is unpleasant.

My Scottish husband says that when he was a boy, it was Trick and Treat.
The children would sing a song, recite a poem or perform in some way. As a reward, they will get a piece of cake of a sweet.
When my children were young, he would get them "douking" for apples and he would hang a big treacle scone covered in treacle from a string and they would have to take bites from it.

I can remember ducking for apples too.
As somebody said, the real approach of winter festival is Guy Fawkes.
It can be magical standing by a big bonfire watching the flames lighting up the night sky while you eat treacle toffee, parkin and baked potatoes.
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Old Sep 20th, 2005, 01:50 AM
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I was looking for recipes for parkin and this site http://www.dacha.freeuk.com/cook/

has 33!

Personally, I think that it should be made with black treacle.

Delia Smith has a good recipe at http://www.deliaonline.com/recipes/t...n,1586,RC.html
or http://tinyurl.com/cg8b7
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Old Sep 20th, 2005, 03:39 AM
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How do people celebrate Guy Fawkes Night in the U.S.? Are there lots of bonfires and straw men? Would it be OK if I started a bonfire in Times Square? Do you think it might catch on?
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Old Sep 20th, 2005, 03:47 AM
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Go on, I dare you!

I shall watch the news on November 5th to see how you get on.
First of all, you will have to make a Guy, put it in an old pram and sit in Times Square shouting, "A penny for the Guy".
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Old Sep 20th, 2005, 05:21 AM
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While not in London, Sheffield boasts the largest Halloween event in England, Fright Night. I don't know the details, I saw it in their tourist brochure last spring.
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Old Sep 22nd, 2005, 03:10 AM
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I worked in a school in the North of England for many years, and Halloween and all the stuff around it was considered a no go area because of the connections with witchcraft etc. We were certainly 'not allowed' to do any Halloween activities with the children. Maybe this is one of the reasons why t has not 'caught on'? I assume American schools don't have the same attitude?
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Old Sep 22nd, 2005, 06:11 AM
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A friend's daughter spent last year studying in Bristol. She went to Halloween party. She dressed as Peter Pan. She said she felt silly because everyone else was dressed in a very goulish/scary maner.
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Old Sep 22nd, 2005, 06:17 AM
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Check out coventgardenlife.com This is a great web site for the Covent Garden area. As I recall in the past Covent Garden did a Halloween celebration thing. I just checked and did not see anything listed but I would not be surprised if they did list something or do something closer to Halloween!
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Old Sep 22nd, 2005, 06:36 AM
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missypie, you're right, 'if' people do go in a for a Halloween party, it will always be ghoulish. What's Peter Pan got to do with Halloween?

A couple of years ago I went to a Halloween Party thrown by a club organisers called Club Montepulciano. They stage events in strange/interesting venues across London, and Halloween is always a big night for them. Anyone can by tickets, and everyone dresses to the hilt (think posh dresses covered in blood, that kind of thing). You can see pictures from previous years at:
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Old Sep 22nd, 2005, 06:36 AM
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oops, hit too soon. Sadly, it seems they no longer do club nights. oh well, you can see it all here...

http://www.clubmontepulciano.com/gallery/vamp.htm
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Old Sep 22nd, 2005, 06:42 AM
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The notion that kids out trick or treating on Halloween teaches them to beg is utter rubbish. Can't we just agree that some traditions simply do not "travel" well without denigrating them? And thank you, Tallulah, for yet another enlightening story of your alcoholic youth.
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Old Sep 22nd, 2005, 07:59 AM
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>What's Peter Pan got to do with Halloween?<

About as much as Santa Claus has to do with the birth of Christ. Kids in costumes and fat men in red suits are secular customs. Neither should be taken too seriously.

>i worked in a school in the North of England for many years, and Halloween and all the stuff around it was considered a no go area because of the connections with witchcraft etc.<

It's the same PC claptrap in US schools. There's typically one wingnut in every school district that thinks Halloween is devil worship but the whole thing gets repackaged as a "fall festival" or "harvest day." Little kids still get to dress up and eat cupcakes & candy. Pretty harmless stuff. (BTW, that wingnut is the same one who thinks Santa is idol worship, proven by the fact that the letters can be rearranged to spell SATAN.)

2tired2night, Amen (secular idiom) to your comments regarding Tallulah's sodden life.
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Old Sep 22nd, 2005, 09:10 AM
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From the History Channel

Halloween's origins date back to the ancient Celtic festival of Samhain (pronounced sow-in).

The Celts, who lived 2,000 years ago in the area that is now Ireland, the United Kingdom, and northern France, celebrated their new year on November 1. This day marked the end of summer and the harvest and the beginning of the dark, cold winter, a time of year that was often associated with human death. Celts believed that on the night before the new year, the boundary between the worlds of the living and the dead became blurred. On the night of October 31, they celebrated Samhain, when it was believed that the ghosts of the dead returned to earth. In addition to causing trouble and damaging crops, Celts thought that the presence of the otherworldly spirits made it easier for the Druids, or Celtic priests, to make predictions about the future. For a people entirely dependent on the volatile natural world, these prophecies were an important source of comfort and direction during the long, dark winter.

To commemorate the event, Druids built huge sacred bonfires, where the people gathered to burn crops and animals as sacrifices to the Celtic deities...

...By the 800s, the influence of Christianity had spread into Celtic lands. In the seventh century, Pope Boniface IV designated November 1 All Saints' Day, a time to honor saints and martyrs. It is widely believed today that the pope was attempting to replace the Celtic festival of the dead with a related, but church-sanctioned holiday. The celebration was also called All-hallows or All-hallowmas (from Middle English Alholowmesse meaning All Saints' Day) and the night before it, the night of Samhain, began to be called All-hallows Eve and, eventually, Halloween. Even later, in A.D. 1000, the church would make November 2 All Souls' Day, a day to honor the dead. It was celebrated similarly to Samhain, with big bonfires, parades, and dressing up in costumes as saints, angels, and devils. Together, the three celebrations, the eve of All Saints', All Saints', and All Souls', were called Hallowmas.

So I guess while it actually started in England in ancient times, it's now resurfacing (and about time > Happy New Year.



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Old Sep 23rd, 2005, 05:13 AM
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That's made me think. I wonder if it's our protestantism that has seen the demise of Halloween. Considering All Saint's Day is, well, celebrating saints, and Halloween is all pagan, suspicious stuff, then I'm sure the likes of Oliver Cromwell would have had a very dim view of it.

Oh, and I still think it's also because of Guy Fawkes Night being so close...
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Old Sep 23rd, 2005, 05:25 AM
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Thank god London doesn't go in for this purile nonsense in a big way. It's fine for pre-pubescents, and that is about it.

Please, grow up!
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