Monday, October 31, 2011
And it is Halloween as I type. October 31st, when large populations, America and the United Kingdom leading the charge, behave irrationally and expressively, and even aggressively in the hedonistic persuit of partying and "trick or treating," and where costume manufacturers rub their hands in glee as millions take advantage of their vestments, sold either in superstores or else via catalogues advertising "More Boo For Your Buck!"
In my greying years I continue to think about this fete in an incredulous way. I don't worry about it, and neither do I condemn it. I leave that to the funless-mental branches of the Faith. If it's fun, and my teenage daughter will surely have fun at tonight's sleep-over with food and a "scary movie," then let people have fun. But why? For what reason? Even an impromptu party has a raison d'etre.
In today's Daily Telegraph, Christopher Howse wrote an brilliant essay entitled Halloween Simply Can't Be Tacky Enough. I enjoyed it, I agreed with it, but I wanted more. (Especially as he didn't say anything about the drunken Irish-American origins of modern "trick or treat." In the early 20th century when most communities were striving to improve themselves, that lot in Boston and New York were inventing ritual begging with real violence.) But I know that I will go unsatisfied.
It goes without saying that commercial festivals have, once created, an inertia of their own. Or rather that of the market forces that lie in the shadows (ooh! A Halloween flavor!) behind them. But is that it? If we accept that Halloween has no connection with Christianity (All Saints' Day), ancient Celtic culture (Samhain) or modern paganism (who falsely interpret Samhain), then what are we left with? Nothing. So a people who celebrate simply because a giant marketing culture snaps its fingers and announces, "Boo!" is in a very sorry state indeed.
Posted by Tim Lewis at 9:11 PM