Halloween and Bonfire Night

I’ve just realised that we’ve gone through Halloween and Bonfire night without me mentioning much about it.

As I was growing up we never really made much of Halloween. A few people may have cut up a pumpkin but that was about it. When I was young I remember Halloween just passing right by without much fuss. A few kids might come to the door playing “Trick or Treat” but it was rare. Then, just a few days later it would be Bonfire Night – a quirkie celebration here in the UK where we set off fireworks and light fires to celebrate Guy Fawkes. Click here to learn more about it. American readers will be used to letting off fireworks to celebrate Independence Day, however here in the UK we let fireworks off to celebrate some guy trying to burn down the houses of Parliament. How weird is that eh ?

Anyhow, I don’t know if it’s just me but things appear to have changed over the years. A few years back we would have kids coming to the door asking for a “Penny for the Guy”. This was basically just plain begging on a slightly less glorified scale than “Trick or Treat”. Children would dress up a “Guy” to represent Guy Fawkes and then burn him on a bonfire some days later (nice eh?) Normally it would be a football with a hat on which was loosely draped in an old coat. The whole thing would then be carted around the streets in a wheelbarrow with children knocking doors and shouting, “Penny For The Guy”. You basically opened the door and gave them some cash – that was the deal. You either did that or ignored them.

Now however it’s all changed. No longer do I see children walking around asking “Penny for the Guy”. All the effort now appears to be focused on Halloween. I think it all started changing when TV here in the UK exploded into the multichannel world. Now Christmas is called “The Holidays” and Halloween is taking over from the “Penny for the Guy”. I don’t mind a whole lot. I myself have picked up some Americanisms… My language has changed after several visits to the USA and constant involvement with Americans. I tend to construct sentances differently because I know there’s not just a UK audience reading this. The US TV shows have entered into our lives now and the vocabulary and dictionary of a typical Brit has expanded. Ask any Brit what a “Diaper” is or a “sidewalk” or “10 bucks” or “this Fall” and they’ll instantly know that it’s a “nappy” and a “footpath”, “10 Dollars” and “this Autumn”. In the end we don’t even bother translating the subtle differences and those words enter our daily lives here in the UK.

It’s very rare that the same thing happens the other way round. I could be wrong, but some British words rarely get understood in the US as they’ve not been heard on TV in the same way.

Sh*t. Where the hell was I going with this? Ah yes, so Halloween is now a big thing here in the UK. We had 5 different groups of children knocking on the door. I actually love it. I went out to get a big bag of sweets (candy in the US, but again I’ll bet our UK readers already know that) to give to the kids.

They’d all really put huge effort into their costumes. One little girl looked frozen solid – she was only about 6 and had little red horns and a red dress on. She was shaking with the cold, then – as I gave her some chocolates I looked up at her mother who was wrapped up in a huge coat and scarf! Nice!