Friday, October 26, 2018

Why Halloween doesn't do it for me

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I could do another "Why oh why oh why do we celebrate Halloween now and not Bonfire night?" piece.

But I have already done that act for the Yorkshire Evening Post and the New Statesman and the truth is that Bonfire Night was anti-Catholic propaganda grafted on to much older Halloween traditions.

Besides, I am reaching the age where you have to be clear whether you are playing an old fogey or have really become one.

So let me try another reason for explaining why the fact that shops now fill with Halloween tat at the start of October does not fill me with joy.

Halloween is All Hallows' Eve - the night before All Saints' Day.

It was once the one night of the year when the religious order was overturned. Ghosts and demons walked abroad and, as Horatio once put it, the sheeted dead did squeak and gibber in the Roman streets.

In 2018 we barely have a religious order. It follows that the idea of overturning that order has lost most of its power.

And in an age where children are accompanied by their parents when they go trick or treating, there is little dark or wild about the custom.

I remember a report on local television news about a church or cathedral that had revived the tradition of the 'boy bishop'.

This was not a Halloween tradition - it was most associated with St Nicholas's Day and the Christmas season - whereby, as Wikipedia tells it:
a boy was chosen, for example among cathedral choristers, to parody the real bishop, commonly on the feast of Holy Innocents.
But the modern version, as shown in the television report, featured no parodying at all. A religiously minded boy preached a sermon before the congregation.

So what was once a transgressive custom was shanghaied to shore up what remains of the existing religious order.

Still, no hard feelings and all that. Let me end by recommending The Evolution of Horror podcast to all those with a taste for ghost and horror films.

I am one of them.

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