October 31st marks the Celtic pagan festival of Samhain which marks the ending of the harvest season and the beginning of the “darker half” of the year.
The Christianised version is what we know as Hallowe’en – a festival for remembering the dead – which precedes All Saints’ Day and finishes with a day commemorating the faithful departed, usually relatives (All Souls’ Day).
Like many festivals with religious connotations it has been “hijacked” and commercialised into something much more different than it was intended to be. Now people are out on the towns dressed as ghouls, zombies and weirdly Disney characters and paying over the odds to get into clubs with an abundance of spewing smoke machines and cobwebs, just to drink spookily named and coloured cocktails and dance the night away to “scary” songs. Hallowe’en and Mischief Night now feel like they are dragged out over a week or more depending on when the 31st falls.
We’ve been in the States around this time of year a few times now, and even spent time in the horror attractions at Universal Studios. We’ve seen how big a deal it is over there and over the last decade or so it’s influences on UK shores has grown exponentially. I can’t remember exactly when the supermarkets here had an aisle dedicated to today, but I can remember when it never caused a blip in their store, apart from a much larger pile of pumpkins – the only decorations I can recall seeing as a kid.
For a dyed in a he wool metal fan it seems all very perplexing that the straight laced people we might work with week in week out all of a sudden joins our clan, and gets an interest in fake blood, horror films, wearing black head to toe and having that three day love affair with reanimated dead bodies. By the Monday after All Hallows’ Eve it’s a case of “can we have our sub culture back now please, you’re embarrassing us”, as people and venues now move onto planning their overpriced Christmas and New Year events.
So happy Hallowe’en and what better band is there to “celebrate” it with that German band Helloween. You don’t know how hard it’s been to type this out and write Hallowe’en without using three E’s!!