Why does Halloween feel like the new Christmas?
Every year at around this time, the ee team and I start to get quite excited. We start discussing our trick or treating plans, funny invite ideas for our Halloween Party (Boo and Booze with us, for example) and exchange spooky receipies for example our graveyard chocolate mouse (not considered complete without jellied eye balls - available from your local expat food store).
Clearly this year is less exciting -- with our one family invited to celebrate and an online door-knocking game (no sweets provided) lined up.
But COVID aside, why are we all more crazy for Halloween?
First off, it's definitely not a British thing to celebrate Halloween like the Americans. In the UK we do have trick or treaters trawling the streets, but traditionally -- it's Guy Fawkes Night that we celebrate. Not heard of it? I've got a poem to remind you: Remember, remember the fifth of November. Still not got a clue? It's the date of the Gunpowder Treason plot when Guy Fawkes tried to blow up the House of Parliament and was caught guarding a cashe of explosives. Still not quite clear? Well have you heard of the group of hacker activists called Anonymous? They wear Guy Fawkes masks as a symbol of rebellion against governments. Find out more about them here https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anonymous_(group).
Anyway... that's the UK and Halloween. We like it. But we love burning effigies of Guy Fawkes on our bonfires and enjoying Jacket potatoes and marshmallows roasted on the fire more.
Not like the Americans! They're mad about Halloween. Halloween is usually celebrated amongst family, friends and, sometimes, co-workers. However, some areas hold large community events. Adults may celebrate by watching horror films, holding costume parties or creating haunted houses or graveyards.
Many children dress up in fancy costumes and visit other homes in the neighborhood. At each house, they demand sweets, snacks or a small gift. If they do not get this, they threaten to do some harm to the inhabitants of the house. This is known as playing 'trick-or-treat' and is supposed to happen in a friendly spirit, with no nasty or mean tricks being carried out. Some families carve lanterns with 'scary' faces out of pumpkins or other vegetables or decorate their homes and gardens in Halloween style. These were traditionally intended to ward off evil spirits.
So why now, is this becoming such a thing in Germany? Well... here's what I think:
1. Halloween sits perfectly between Summer Holidays and Christmas. If you're not graced with patience, then a Halloween party breaks things up really nicely as you wait for Santa.
2. Halloween is spent with friends and colleagues and your neighbourhood community. Christmas is spent with Family -- need I say more?
3. Halloween is about dressing up, being silly, not taking yourself seriously and getting out there into the community no matter how embarrased you feel. Americans are good at this. Brits are coming round to the idea. Germans are slow adapters. But making a fool of yourself is actually good fun.
4. It's a nice idea, right? The concept that there is one day of the year when the line between the dead and the living merges. On this one day, ghosts and ghoulies can come to our world. The only thing that might scare them off? One of the executive english team thrashing their arms around in a Hermann the Munster costume.
Useful vocabulary: To boo - said suddenly to surprise someone who is unaware of one's presence.
Booze - alcoholic drink
To trawl the streets - lots of people on public roads usually looking for something specific.
The Gunpowder Treason plot - The plot was conceived by Robert Catesby, a Roman Catholic who believed that Catholic rights would be diminished under the Stuart monarchy. To assist him, Catesby assembled a group of coconspirators. Among them was Guy Fawkes, a British soldier of fortune whose name and visage would become inextricably linked with the plot.
The plotters rented a cellar that extended beneath Westminster Palace, and there Fawkes planted dozens of barrels of gunpowder. The government learned of the plot, however, and Fawkes was arrested. Under torture, he revealed the names of his coconspirators, and all were either executed or killed while being apprehended.
Parliament subsequently declared that November 5 be celebrated as an annual day of thanksgiving, and a variety of traditions became associated with the date.
effigy - Symbolically. For example, That umpire was completely unfair—let's burn him in effigy. Now used only figuratively, this term formerly signified a way of carrying out the sentence of a criminal who had escaped, such as burn in effigy or hang in effigy.
to be mad about - really be crazy excited about it
trick-or-treat - The phrase is a subtle suggestion that if a treat (like candy) is given, then the child will not perform a “trick" (mischief) on the owner of the house. This popular Halloweencustom has its origins in the ancient practices of “souling" and “guising." ... The term “trick or treat" first appeared in print in 1927 in Canada.
to ward off - to scare off
to make a fool of oneself - play the idiot. Embarrass oneself.
ghoulies - ghoulie (plural ghoulies) (informal) ghoul (ghostly spirit) (bridge) contract bridge in which only goulash hands are played (usually used in the plural) (informal, Britain, plural) testicles.(now if you'e learned nothing else today.... you'e at least learned that)