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Do you celebrate Halloween or Bonfire Night?

I don’t want to sound like a wicked old witch, but I do let out a small sigh of cynicism when Halloween rolls around. So as Halloween celebrations catch on in the UK, will you be joining in the fiendish festivities?

Halloween is coming and, as expected, the shops are full to bursting with merchandise for us to buy. And it’s no small wonder, as a recent YouGov survey found that UK consumers will spend an estimated £268m celebrating this year’s most haunting holiday.

Compared to the £2.1m Brits spent celebrating Halloween in 2001, the spookiest day of year has seen a surge in popularity. The survey found 53% of adults agreed that Halloween is a fun event for kids, yet only 23% of adults plan to celebrate (or have an excuse for a fancy dress party!).

Is Halloween just a headache?

I don’t want to bring the mood down, but I’ll admit I don’t have much love for Halloween. In fact, I’d say I sit firmly in the 45% of adults who see it as an ‘unwelcome American cultural import’. Don’t get me wrong – it looks like great fun in America. But over there, it’s a rich tradition where everyone seems to get involved and take part.

In the UK, I don’t look forward to walking down the chilly, dark streets spotting the odd, sad pumpkin or flimsy plastic skeleton outside the doors of those who tried to make an effort. And I don’t want to imagine the disappointed faces of those children who go trick-or-treating, only to be met with endless unopened doors as homeowners (like me) hide behind their curtains.

And finally, I’m sure I’m not the only one who has been unsure about a bunch of too-old-for-trick-or-treating-teenagers knocking at my door for their free food as a reward for donning a ‘Scream’ mask.

Despite the millions being spent on Halloween in the UK, the mood has only captured 8% of adults who said they’ll carve a pumpkin for the day and a mere 4% who said they’ll be taking their kids trick or treating. It’s hard to ignore the enormous benefit to the UK retail industry, so you can see why so much merchandise makes its way onto the shelves.

Another brilliant Bonfire Night

I for one am looking forward to another brilliant Bonfire Night as 5 November approaches. As a nation, Bonfire Night has us bursting with excitement as we plan to spend an estimated £386m on celebrations. Overall, the YouGov survey found that 29% of us plan to attend an organised display (me included), while 12% will buy fireworks to use at home or to take to a party.

So, roasted chestnuts here I come – but I’m afraid my lights will be out if you come knocking on my door on 31 October. Will you be celebrating these autumnal festivities or should we try to stop the spread of horrible Halloween while we still can?

Which do you prefer?

Bonfire night (45%, 79 Votes)

Neither (43%, 76 Votes)

Halloween (11%, 20 Votes)

Total Voters: 175

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Comments
Member

I won’t celebrate Halloween or Bonfire Night, but I don’t mind other people doing it. What bothers me far more and incenses me every year is Christmas paraphernalia appearing in the shops before Halloween’s even been! (Similarly, I saw the first poppy being worn today on telly and we’re not even in November yet. Is this a competition? Looks like a travesty to me.)

I would like to see preferably a law, but if not, self-imposed regulation like they have in Belgium as I understand, stipulating that there should be no Christmas advertising or displaying of goods before 1st December, no Easter eggs out 6 weeks before Easter and so on. Never mind retailers’ greed (or desperation in this difficult economic period) and unseemly consumption on our part, time passes by far too quickly without rushing it further along. May we enjoy the here and now please?

Member

I agree Sophie – just when I think retailers can’t surprise me, the Christmas/Easter/Halloween products are rolled out another week earlier. For me, it certainly takes something away from my Christmas spirit when the decorations are up 2 months early.

Member

There’s a big difference between Bonfire night and just about every other festival in Britain beyond local fetes and carnivals – it revolves around a spectacle which involves the entire community and there is little that commerce can do to cash in.

As for the others, I suspect most wouldn’t bother if it wasn’t for the kids: though for the purposes of Christmas I have reached my mid-fifties and remain one of the kids.

Member

I don’t think much of the Hallowe’en hoo-hah. We find the trick-or-treaters extremely bothersome as it seems to go on all night. I don’t see why British people should be gadding about in tacky outfits – made in the Orient no doubt – in the hope of getting a few sweeties or else they’ll throw an egg at your door [which has happened to us] – not a good moral example. The same lot come back six weeks later and pretend to sing Christmas carols. I suppose to the extent that the boom in pumpkin sales boosts the Norfolk economy I should soften my line. We like Guy Fawkes Night [as it should be called] and enjoy the private and public firework displays; at least it marks a key event in English history although the reports of the shells seem to be getting louder and more numerous as the years go by.

Member

I agree with all that john has said about Halowe’en.

I don’t mind fireworks on one or two nights a year, since they have invaded traditional New Year celebrations. What should be discouraged is having fireworks every night for a week around Guy Fawkes Night or people setting them off in the middle of the night.

Member

Dislike intensely “trick or treaters” – as I dislike American imports. – No longer celebrate Bonfire Night as my children are over 50 and my dogs don’t like the noise

Member
Anne says:
28 October 2012

Hallowe’en is a home-grown celebration and, as we used to celebrate it, is great fun for children and for grown-ups who never grew up properly.

As children we went guising, in other words dressed up in fancy dress and went about in gangs. I still occasionally get a bunch of children guising here. They ring the bell and offer an entertainment, so I invite them in and they sing a song or tell jokes, and I reward them with fruit and (if they’re old enough) nuts. Never money or sweets. This is harmless fun and I am happy to encourage it.

We also enjoyed the traditional ducking for apples, trying to eat treacle scones off a string without using hands (real scones covered in proper black treacle, not Golden Syrup) and various other messy games.

I agree entirely about the undesirability of the American version of Hallowe’en, specifically ‘Trick or Treat’, which reminds me, I need to arrange to go out for dinner on Wednesday evening.

I love fireworks, and always try to go to as many formal firework displays as possible, and I object strongly to killjoys who try to stop such events because their pets are frightened. If you know there’s going to be a display near you, you can easily make an arrangement to keep them indoors, or take them away somewhere out of range for an hour or so. I like the fact that firework displays are not all held on the same day, which means I can go to more than one each autumn.

On the other hand, I agree about letting bangers off randomly, and would be happy to see a ban on sales of noisy fireworks to the general public. One decent big firework costs from around £20 to £30. If everyone donated that much to a formal display, there would be more for all to enjoy, and it would be safer.

Member

Guising sounds like fun Anne – I can’t say I’ve ever heard of it! The kids where I live have never offered any kind of performance in exchange for sweets. Did any particular performances stand out for you?

I also agree with you about buying fireworks – I’m not sure what makes people want to buy their own when you can usually attend a magnificent free display nearby.

Member
The Docotr says:
28 October 2012

Bonfire night

Member
MariaB says:
28 October 2012

I quite enjoyed going to Halloween parties a few years ago, but when children started Trick Or Treat in my area about 5 years ago, it became annoying and a nuisance. There were instances of fireworks being put through letter boxes, vandalism and abuse. If there aren’t Halloween decorations, children shouldn’t come to the property and expect treats. It’s a shame it’s become so commercial. I feel the same about Christmas, it’s too commercial and I now don’t buy presents or send cards.

Member

Interesting idea MariaB – although I worry that those who then don’t put up decorations would be marked targets for the ‘trick’ part of the trick or treating!

Member
Miles Dexter says:
28 October 2012

I wish we would get slung out of EU, as we have imported this Halloween nonsense from the free trade free raid country over the other side of the pond, america, we should apply to become whatever the next number of state and become a member of the USA and that will teach us another lesson, where if you fall ill in the street and your poor with no cartel organised insurance your dead, but I think “we’re worth it” two Great War fairing nations joined in matrimony forever exploiting and polluting other country’s cultures all over the globe because we have none of our own except.

Member

It could blend in with Hannukah & Diwali the true festivals of light as the reasons for Bonfire Night questionable .However these festivities are much loved by children with a bit of sense & responsibility they all could be done with respect & fun .

Member

Halloween is an Americanism I can do without but it seems to get bigger every year. I wish people would stop putting plastic webs up around the office…..

Guy Fawkes night, well that’s a good excuse to watch V for Vendetta again

Member

Yes, does seem to be getting bigger ever year (though it was always massive Scotland due to the Pagan traditions). And although the consumerist nature of Halloween is possibly Americanised, the ‘day’ itself isn’t. I’ve written before about the consumerism, but on the weekend I went to a Halloween party and all that was required was a £1 make-up kit for my costume (The Joker)

I’m broadly with Julie, what’s wrong with a bit of ghoulish fun and trick-or-treating (as long as the kids do more than just knock on your door for a treat)?

Member

It’s a real pain having two festivals that encourage silly behaviour (!) within a week. Might I propose a solution?

November 5th celebrates a dodgy legal decision that resulted in the bloody execution of a scapegoat (Guy Fawkes) whilst the main gunpowder plotters pretty much escaped unpunished. October 31st celebrates – er – nothing other than American consumerism, even if the origin of the idea had come from here in the first place.

I suggest they be merged – by law. A new festival called “Firework Night” should be established on October 31st when revellers are encouraged to go to organised firework shows in ghoulish costumes. Prizes awarded for most impressive costume maybe? “Trick and treat”-ing to be henceforth regarded as “begging” or “money with menaces” and any attempts to do it to result in the summary locking-up of the villains overnight. (There wouldn’t be any encouragement for anyone to go trick and treating if significant numbers of the public are out at the local fireworks show anyway and therefore not answering their doors.)

Any diehards trying to keep the old November 5th festival going should be arrested on sight and charged with “breach of the peace” (i.e. letting off fireworks on the wrong night) and/or “conspiracy to organise support for terrorists” (i.e. the AD1605 gunpowder plotters!).

Only this way can Britain reclaim Hallowe’en for ourselves and re-invent the festival with a uniquely British flavour to it, independent of the American rubbish we’ve been forced to get used-to. We’d all still have all the fun(?) we’re accustomed-to, just amalgamated into one bash.

Member

In the interests of European solidarity (ahem) we could ditch the America tradition (well, Americanised version of an old British isles tradition) and go for Walpurgis Night – exactly six months later on 30th April, and comes complete with ghoulishness and bonfires.

Member

Halloween is actually a British festival. It directly coincides with the end of summer (and the harvest) and the beginning of winter, and was celebrated by our Celtic ancestors as Samhain. The celebrations would involve dressing as ghouls, carving lanterns and lighting bonfires ( complete with sacrificial effigies) to light the way into the dark part of the year, not so different from today.

Over the centuries it has unfortunately been hijacked for religious, political, and commercial reasons, much like many other festivals but personally, I still absolutely love it. When else can you revel in the macabre, be brought face to face with your most irrational fears, and have a proper knees-up?

Call it what you will, we all need a festival of light at this time of year.

Member

I’m aware that halloween is an British festival,

Yet some how we’ve taken on the American form, Where they’ve changed our meaning to halloween :/

Member

” Samhain (pronounced ‘sow’inn’) is a very important date in the Pagan calendar for it marks the Feast of the Dead. Many Pagans also celebrate it as the old Celtic New Year (although some mark this at Imbolc). It is also celebrated by non-Pagans who call this festival Halloween.

Samhain has been celebrated in Britain for centuries and has its origin in Pagan Celtic traditions. It was the time of year when the veils between this world and the Otherworld were believed to be at their thinnest: when the spirits of the dead could most readily mingle with the living once again. Later, when the festival was adopted by Christians, they celebrated it as All Hallows’ Eve, followed by All Saints Day, though it still retained elements of remembering and honouring the dead.”

I do not have a problem celebrating Halloween and Guy Fawkes – on the actual night not for a week before and a week after the event. Some pet owners dread this time of year because their pets cower in corners trembling and terrified at the noise. I was looking after a friends dogs several years ago and took them out for their last walk of the day whilst it was still daylight. Then a firework was set off and the dogs took off like greased lightening. I had to let go of the leads as I was unable hold them or keep with them. I ran home looking out and calling for them all the way. When I got to the door, they both were both there cowering like whipped animals. If we could keep the fireworks to the night we are celebrating then all dog owners would be most grateful.

Member

I’m not a great fan of Halloween, As it sends an confusing message to kids about stranger danger,

Plus you can’t afford knocking or ringing bells to old people’s house/flats, That may not like or understand halloween or maybe afraid, Same for the mentally ill,disabled, or those who don’t speak english or understand this American tradition :/

I as a child only once did knocking on doors on my estate for trick or treat on halloween.

Where I did penny for a guy outside a sweet shop once or twice throughout my childhood, & I often would go to bonfire nights & fire work displays as a child, teenager, & adult 🙂

Also I once came back to my boyfriends flat,On an halloween night, As I was trying to open the door, The older brother at the gate was getting aggressive towards Me & Seeking money, As he thought I was ignoring his younger brother who said trick or treat, His younger brother turned around to his aggressive brother & Said the guy’s waiting to open the front door so he can turn on the hall way light & See how much money his got in his wallet, & I Gave like Fifty pence & Then got it to My boyfriend’s flat & Ignored the door all night.

I LOVE BONFIRE NIGHT & PENNY FOR A GUY 🙂

Member

Having once tried to carve a lantern out of a turnip, at least we should be grateful to our American cousins for pumpkins. And its a useful cash crop for UK growers too.

My teenage daughters love dressing up for Halloween – any excuse for a party.

Bonfire night has become a community event in our village. After a best guy competition in the pub carpark, the road is closed for a torchlight procession to the glebe field for hot soup, burgers, a huge bonfire and fireworks. Nothing political or religious, just good fun and fundraising.

Member

I love celebrating both Halloween and Bon Fire Night. Both are a good reason so meet up with people that you may not get to see at other times of the year. But I do also agree with the fact that many do take advantage of this time of year and ruin it for the rest of us.
Where I live many people out signs outside of their houses to allow trick-or-treaters to know if those houses will answer the door or not. This has become a big thing in the immediate area and therefore means that anyone who does not wish to have trick-or-treaters are bothered on that night.
I don’t agree with certain age brackets using the holiday as an excuse to get free food and believe this is the fundamental reason for peoples houses being egged.

On the case of Bon Fire Night celebrations in controlled areas have always been my choice of celebration as there is less chance of accidents. I understand that many enjoy making their own show of fireworks but the use of fireworks after a certain time should be banned. I know that myself and others have been woken at stupid times due to people setting them off for “the hell of it”.

Many will spend their time celebrating in different ways, I know that I will be celebrating the actual day of Halloween answering the door to youngsters having fun and rejecting those who are, in my opinion, too old to be knocking on my door asking for free hand outs.

Member

Just spotted spelling and sentence errors.
“Both are a good reason to meet…”
“Where I live many people put signs outside…”
“…anyone who does not wish to have trick-or-treaters are not bothered on that night”

Member

I don’t mind if Hallowe’en is celebrated with a degree of consideration however bizarre the get-up [although I suppose I don’t like the way the festival is moving in the direction of the psychiatric ward]. What I can’t stand, however, are the appallingly tacky costumes and accessories that the retailers have procured. I saw a good display of Hallowe’en kit in a window display at Peter Jones department store in London a week or so ago [presumably other John Lewis branches have similar products] and although more expensive it did look better than the usual tat and would probably last a few seasons.

I think the lighting of lanterns is a good tradition that should perhaps be developed. Now that the clocks have gone back our streets are so gloomy in the evenings as people draw the curtains and use sensors on their outdoor lights; surely with low-energy bulbs it wouldn’t be too expensive for people to have a glowing lantern near their door and leave it on at least until they went to bed.