I answered the bell of my front door at about 9.30 pm last night to be confronted with a guy, certainly not a child, standing on the step wearing a hideous mask on his face. I rather jumped at the unexpected sight of him and was so glad that both my son and husband were not too far behind me. I courteously declined a 'trick or treat' at which point he walked away and took off his mask and walked up the street.
I got to thinking how this Halloween thing has come from America and become big retail business in recent years. Whole areas of grocery stores taken over with hideous costumes and anything to do with witches and the like.
It took me back to October 31st when I was a young child. We did not celebrate All Hallowes Eve, this being a night of the supernatural, and the occult side at that when witches and evil spirits were believed to be roaming freely. What we did have was 'duck apple night' where parents filled a large container with apples and the only way to get one was to duck for it with ones hands behind ones back. We also had apples hanging on string from some high beam and again had to eat them with hands behind backs. Sometimes there were home made toffee apples. It was soon after the main apple harvest season so I guess apples were more plentiful.
Continuing the picture of then and now took me to Guy Fawkes night which is celebrated here on 5th November in rememberance of the foiled Gunpowder plot to blow up parliament in 1605. Some Catholics led by Guy Fawkes were out to murder King James I.
Today there are very few private bonfires and people go to hugely organised bonfires and watch masses of very sophisticated fireworks where 'health and safety' play a huge part. Added to that there are fireworks being set off every night for some time before this event and well afterwards with the odd ones going off right into the New Year or later.
Wind back to my childhood. Just about every street had a bonfire in the middle of the road (very few cars around then) and the only fireworks would be maybe a small catherine wheel or rocket and maybe a couple of penny 'bangers'. Mostly we had hand held Sparklers. Children would build a 'guy' by stuffing old clothes with straw and he would be taken around the street where neighbours would hand out small change with which we would buy fireworks. What we did enjoy very much were the potatoes that we would roast in the fire. No baking foil then, just a potatoe shoved in the fire. If the fire got too hot it was not unknown for a window pain to shatter and the houses nearest to the fire would be showing blistered and peeling paint on the front door the next morning. Lots of innocent fun and I was too young to wonder what happened about the paint. I'm sure there were complaints but childhood amnesia is a good thing.
Ending this little tome brings me to an interesting conversation I had recently with a 23 year old friend. She is a bright third year medical student and this conversation brought home to me how little our young people are aware of our recent past.
Some of the young people in our house church were talking about things one had to go without when camping. When I said that we did not have central heating when I was young, one 35 year old asssumed that we must have heated the home with an electric fire. She could not believe it when I said that we did not have electricity, the only heat was from a coal fire. We discussed some more of the things that we did not have, during and just after the war, and when I explained that we had to cut newspaper into squares for lavatory paper, my 23 year old friend very seriously said, "Why didn't you use kitchen roll (paper kitchen towels)". She was serious.
Things have changed so rapidly in my lifetime that one forgets that young people of today have only ever known, and take for granted the little luxuries of life. I guess my grandparents would have felt the same about my generation.
Which brings me to the big '0' birthday that is coming up - more in next post - this one was just a little extra that I have shoved in!