Well, it’s that time of year again, 31st October and Halloween. A day when we can all get spooky, go ‘trick and treating’ which is more of an British/American festival than European.
I remember as a child, well young teenager actually, that we used to have a Halloween party in my Dad’s garage. We would decorate it all up with woolen webs and hollow out pumpkins with scary faces. We would light candles and night lights to create a spooky atmosphere. Because Halloween is the ‘night of the dead’. And the general idea is to get ‘scary’. And be scared.
The actual name Halloween is derived from All Hallows Eve (the evening before 1st November) which is All Saints Day. This festival finds its origins in the Celtic calendar, when all the harvest had been gathered in, preparing for the winter months ahead, it was time for a free day and of course a festival. A moment when the veils between life and death were lifted. This is known as Samhain. The Celts loved their festivals of course and believed that Halloween was the day when all the ghosts of those who had passed during the year, came back to the living once more. The ghosts would then knock on people’s doors, scare them silly and ask for food. The origin of getting yourself made up to look even more creepy dated back to Celtic masks which were worn, similar to those on Beltane (the spring festival in May).
When the Romans conquered the United Kingdom, the Celtic traditions were merged with their own traditions and it became a festival of celebrating the harvest and the honoring of the dead.
In the 9th Century, as Christian religion spread across to America and Canada, the festivities became more well known. Special cakes were baked for Halloween, with currants and raisons. By the baking of each bread a prayer was said for those who were no longer here and to help on their way to heaven. This we know today as ‘trick or treating’.
It is a festival that seemed to have taken on big proportions these days. Parades are held where people dress up and look scary. Dance events are held where you get yourself made up to look like skeletons and ghosts and shops are full of Halloween merchandising.
So, for all of you out there today, Happy Halloween.
Now in the UK Halloween is quickly followed by another celebration for Bonfire Night. This is the 5th November when we all remember the moment when Guy Fawkes tried to blow up the Houses of Parliament in London with gunpowder. This is celebrated still today when dummies are made up to look like Guy Fawkes, bonfires and fireworks. This morning, I happened to read a funny article in the paper which I would like to share with you.
And mention the dreaded word BREXIT. And yes, I know we are thoroughly sick to death of the whole subject. We do not want to hear another single word, but there is a funny twist to this blog. This day, 31st October was supposed to be the final moment for the Brexit break with the EEC, deal or no deal. And the best spooky person ever in this story is of course the completely mad Boris Johnson, or BoJo as he is known to his chums.
It was in fact 23rd June 2016 when the British people voted on whether or not they wanted to break away from Europe. Yes, 2016 and in 2019 we are STILL talking about it!
The main problem was, and a lot of my friends confirmed this, that no one had any idea about the consequences. And look what trouble there has been ever since. Grown up people in the Houses of Parliament have spent months and months of debating and shouting about how this should actually happen. In other words, they had no idea whatsoever when the referendum reached the conclusion that the British people no longer wanted to be part of Europe. They preferred to stay on their own island and do their own thing. Ok that is OK, because I think there are a lot of people in Europe who would like to see the EEC dissolve.
So, after months or arguing the terms and conditions and people going to and fro from Brussels and Strasbourg for yet more talks with the EC council, where are we actually standing now?
Well I will tell you, the entire circus has been postponed yet again until next year. It cost Theresa May her premiership and now the British people were more or less forced into having to have someone to lead the country, and what did they get – BoJo. There have been so many things that have never happened before in the rich history of British democracy. Parliament was sent home on a long recess, which surprisingly enough the Queen herself approved. She is probably like many of us, totally fed up of the entire subject.
In other words, the mess continues, without any clear direction and now talk of an Election, so if BoJo no longer is the Prime Minister, who is in charge then? The wonderful Mr. Speaker John Bercow has retired and who can blame him after all those voting sessions and shouting order until his voice was hoarse!
So tonight, as the children have their ‘tricks or treats’ perhaps a thought to make you smile.
What if Guy Fawkes had been successful on the 5th November 1605 and actually blown up the Houses of Parliament, might things have been a bit different? Perhaps a lot of people in the UK will think on the 5th November that their ‘ultimate treat’ would actually be that a life without parliament would be the best festival celebration ever?