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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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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?


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.


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.


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.


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.


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

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.


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.