One of my favourite holidays back home in the US is Halloween. It feels like one big party and it is delightful to see, in particular, all the children dressed up and getting into the spirit (please forgive the pun) of the day. When I first came to London I didn’t expect it to be such a special day here, but it seems that in recent years they have made more of an event of it and even incorporated what I think of as an American custom, ‘Trick or Treat’.
It’s thought that Halloween actually originated in Britain and Ireland from the Celtic harvest festivals and was adapted by Christian traditions. The word comes from ‘Hallowed evening’ or the eve before All Hallows Day – also known as All Saints’ Day. It has also been said that the origins of trick or treating and dressing up were in the 16th century in Ireland, Scotland and Wales where people went door-to-door in costume asking for food in exchange for a poem or song. Many dressed up as souls of the dead and were understood to be protecting themselves from the spirits by impersonating them. So, if true, I am living where the roots of the holiday began.
The Notting Hill supermarkets seem to have a good supply of Halloween costumes, or fancy dress as they say over here, and it is fairly easy to find decorations in shops similar to what they sell back in the States. The sweets (our ‘candy’) are displayed in abundance. There is no shortage of pumpkins and witches’ hats and it seems London will be one vast Halloween party this weekend ahead of the actual day on Monday. I think there are a few Vincent House residents gearing up for Halloween celebrations and, having checked out the various listings such as Time-Out, there are any number of events to go to.
The question is ‘what fancy dress do I wear’? Will I be a witch, a ghoul or a vampire? I am getting my creatives juices flowing to see what sort of costume and makeup ideas I can come up with. I am really looking forward to a couple of scary but fun Halloween parties London-style! Are you going to be dressing up – I would love to know if you are and if so what Halloween character or creature you will be portraying.