herald

Monday 21 August 2017

So what if Halloween has gone commercial ... the fun's still there

A friend turned to me a few days ago and said that her four-year-old daughter had a bit of a dilemma. She had three Halloween outfits to choose from and didn't know which one to go with on the night.

THREE??? Cue the moany old response; 'We only had black plastic bags to make do with when I was young'.

I told her to bring her child to a new age therapist and maybe with some channelling of shakras they could visualise the right outfit. I didn't. I politely smiled and told her that Frozen will be done to death on the night, so go with the cute ladybird.

Halloween is definitely the new Christmas.

Commercially the shops shout cha-chinngggg as they lay out decorations and outfits in September. More and more houses are going to extraordinary lengths with spooky bling.

I have a neighbour who has pumpkins lining the steps of the house and ghoulish ghosts hanging from the roof top. It's like a scene from a Tim Burton movie.

Cinemas now have their yearly ration of Halloween fright films, for both adults and children. Whether someone is being sawed or scarred for life, this time of year is big business all round.

Dressing up is the key to the success of this age old, and sacred, celebration. As per other festivals, it is so far removed from the original occasion, that no child in the country would know what they are actually celebrating.

Just as presents and turkey have come to symbolise for many the birth of Jesus Christ, bobbing apples, pirate outfits and knocking on doors for tricks or treats is supposed to be about remembering the dead.

But who cares, that's what we Westerners like to do. Take a festival, sprinkle it with millions of euro, add a dollop of indulgence, whisk in some greed, and hey presto - we have our own version of an age-old event.

But of all the festivals, I do think Halloween has turned out to be a wonderful, child-focused celebration.

Back in the day, my mother was taunted by seven children every year, with her having to think of new outfits each time.

PESTERING

One particular year, when she had probably run out of ideas, and myself and my sister were pestering her - 'What are we wearing, what are we wearing?'. So she went upstairs and came down with two sheets.

She wrapped the sheets tightly around us. Then she put a red hat on me and a brown hat on my sister. "You're a cigarette and a match," she announced. And off we toddled to the local fancy dress competition.

So this Friday night we celebrate the dead. But who wants to tell their kids about death? Let them put on their wigs and masks, knock on people's doors and get treats galore. Much better!

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