I hate Halloween, it’s pointless. It’s just become this thing for shops to unashamedly flog between getting the last of your summer stuff sold and putting the Christmas stuff on display. It like a lot of things in the UK has become too American. Of…
I am deeply sorry that the weak, commercialised version of Hallowe’en is the one that’s been exported to Britain. Hallowe’en is a holiday about death and the fear of death, a celebration of the power conferred by confronting that fear and becoming one with it.
As an end-of-summer holiday, Guy Fawkes’ Day has similar themes of death and destruction. Why else would a nation celebrate the non-explosion of the seat of governance by setting off fireworks and burning an effigy? I strongly suspect that both holidays have roots in older, pre-Christian traditions acknowledging the end of the easy season of available food, with associated contemplation of our own mortality.
To my mind, the fight here isn’t Hallowe’en vs Guy Fawkes, it’s Hallowe’en AND Guy Fawkes AND Dia de los Muertos and anyone else who wants to sign up, against the advancing forces of blandness, complacency, pretending everything’s going to be fine. The type of mentality that prohibits the sale of fireworks is also the sort that mandates trick-or-treating during daylight and closes cemeteries at sundown. The mass-media mass culture wants to pretend we’ll never die, never get hurt. The fear of these facts of life has become so pervasive that our cultural censors treat the symbol as if it were the thing itself: they treat these dark, old holidays as inherently dangerous, rather than as attempts to deal with the emotions raised by the real danger.
These cathartic celebrations are vital to our cultures. Two, three weeks from now, I want to see terrifying costumes, raging bonfires, and grinning skulls everywhere. If you think your culture is being weakened by commercialisation, appropriation, dilution, don’t stand for it! Reclaim your iconography, bring your traditions roaring back to life. I’ll be right here, doing the same.