Remember remember… but no knocking.
5th November 1605, Guy Fawkes attempted and failed to blow up the Houses of Parliament.
He failed. And this causes us such joy: so much so, that every year, we celebrate his failure by blowing up fire works, and setting fire to effigies of him. I love it.
This celebration of failure makes me feel incredibly English, and, yes, he was tortured and put to death for his treason, which is a little bit gruesome and bloody-but so is much of our history (1066 and a guy with an arrow sticking out of his eye?).
I made an attempt at explaining Bonfire Night to an American friend. He was horrified at how much joy I get out of celebrating the fact that a long dead person failed to achieve his goals. I did rather enjoy recounting the story and the plot twists of being found, surrounded by Gun Powder and being scuppered.
The second half of our year is full of celebrations, and whilst Bonfire night lights the sparks of joy in my heart, Halloween doesn’t.
Now, don’t get me wrong, there are some activities that we have adopted from our American cousins that I do rather enjoy-carving pumpkins for instance, does brighten my day-mostly as I like a good pie made from its fleshy pulp.
The “tradition” that makes me shudder though, is that of children dressing up, knocking on strangers doors, and asking for a “trick or a treat”.
It could be because we were never allowed to do it as children. My mum always said that we were not going out begging for sweets. And having talked to other parents, this seems to have been a common opinion amongst the older generations, and is one that I will be passing down to my own son. It is just not going to happen for him. I do not like it.
Now I am not a complete Scrooge going out of my way to try to ruin other people’s fun, but, I’m just not comfortable with it. It seems to go against the grain of what we try to teach our children from the moment they can comprehend what is being said to them-“do not talk to strangers”, “do not knock on doors” “do not take sweets from people you don’t know”, I’m sorry but I am not going to go against these teachings once a year just because it might be “fun”. I’m sorry but to my over protective and over active imagination, that’s just one step away from a kidnapped or molested child. And well, none of us want that to happen.
Over the top? Maybe. But that is how I feel about it.
I know the arguments for the many that do participate-that they supervise their children, they go to people that they know who wish to partake in the fun, and it only happens once a year. But it’s still not going to be my son knocking on those doors.
I would rather he watch a straw stuffed man burn.