Washminster

Washminster
Washminster

Monday, 31 October 2011

Halloween in the UK

You often hear people say that "Halloween is an imported American festival". In a sense this is true - many of the practices we see today in Britain were rare when I was a child. November 5th was a much bigger occasion. For weeks before children would make and take from door to door (often very amateurish) effigies asking "a penny for the Guy". Guy Fawkes was the former mercenary who was the person tasked with collecting the gunpowder; guarding it and setting it off - which would have blown the Palace of Westminster up & killed King James I and many of the members of the Houses of Lords and Commons. He was discovered only hours before the attack was due. Since that day, "Guy Fawkes Night" has been celebrated with bonfires and fireworks.

BUT we did celebrate Halloween - there were some games (I remember "Apple-Bobbing" - at which I did not excel) & we had pumpkins - but it is only in recent years that Halloween has eclipsed Guy Fawkes Night and taken on the characteristics of the American holiday. Of course its roots were in celtic practices - and there is an excellent website about the British traditions and history of Halloween.

For more information on Guy Fawkes see previous posts on Washminster - Guy Fawkes; The New Session; and the Bonfire Night website.

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