Sunday, October 28, 2007


It's that time of year again folks: the world-famous festival of fake blood and tackiness known as Halloween.

In my local pound shop, called George’s Mini-Market, you can buy vampire teeth, horror masks, wigs, face paint, skeleton costumes, glow-in-the-dark fingers and vampire's blood from anywhere between 10p to £2.

You can buy all the same things everywhere else too. The windows of all the shops are full up of the stuff.

Meanwhile in one of the posh craft shops in our town they have a proper witch's broomstick in the window, obviously hand made. They also have a witch's hat. My sister went in and asked how much the hat cost and they laughed. They got it from Woolworths, they said.

When I was on holiday in Romania last year I went to Bran castle in Transylvania, which is popularly known as "Dracula's Castle". They were selling all the same tat there too.

It's an international conspiracy. Why go to Transylvania when you can buy your Dracula gear from George’s Mini-Market?

Actually the only connection between Bran Castle and Dracula is the fact that the movie Bram Stoker's Dracula was filmed there.

The real historical Dracula, Vlad the Impaler, may have spent a night there once. "Dracula" was one of his titles. It means "Son of the Dragon".

Bram Stoker based his own Dracula's Castle upon one in Scotland which he also visited only once.

So Bram Stoker and Vlad the Impaler have one thing in common. They both only ever went to Dracula's Castle once.

A few years back Christians used to get very upset about Halloween. They would send scary letters to the newspapers accusing anyone taking part of "occult practices".

Fortunately this kind of superstitious scare-mongering seems to have died out in more recent times. Or maybe it’s that Christians don't want to be accused of being spoilsports any more, when secretly they still disapprove.

The first time I was ever published was in my local paper in a letter sent in reply to one of these letters, which I signed "Puck". It filled up almost half a page and the editor added a disclaimer to it. "The views expressed in this letter are not necessarily those of this newspaper."
I was going through a pagan phase at the time.

In pagan circles Halloween is called Samhain, and is the Celtic New Year. It is a very ancient festival indeed, and involves a meal in which an extra place is laid out for the visiting dead.

It had mainly died out in England due to its replacement by Bonfire Night, but was revived recently as an American import after the popularity of Steven Spielberg's ET, which used Halloween night as a convenient plot-device.

These days the ET costume has become a part of the Halloween tradition. If ET was around now he wouldn't have to wear a sheet over his head. He could come as himself.

Sainsburys, meanwhile, is refusing to sell flour or eggs to under 16 year olds. Apparently this is to do with the practice of egging people's houses as part of Trick or Treat.

A friend of mine has the following notice on his door:

No Trick Or Treat

X-Ray Lasers
On Roof.

It seems to work. Or so he claims.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Strange isn't it ?

When I was a kid (I'm 46), Halloween had little meaning. I only ever remember the kids over the road walking round with a candle in a hollowed-out turnip one year.

But you'd think that fireworks would be illegal by now. At least as far as public sale is concerned. All this talk about "war on terror" and we still openly sell explosives over the counter.

In the 70s I remember the statistics (and horrific pictures) of children injured by fireworks.

Daft I call it.