Excuse me

‘It’s not sensible in a pandemic’: cancel Halloween, officials advise

Halloween is not in fact an official event, devised or declared by government or those who would rule us. Rather, it’s a pure and entire invention of the little platoons out there. Who will be the people to decide whether it goes ahead or not.

These tossers really are claiming that we should have their permission to take the kids around to see the neighbours.

Lions with flamethrowers, there is no other answer.

43 thoughts on “Excuse me”

  1. Bloke in North Dorset

    This bunch of incompetents are making it up as they go so I wouldn’t be surprised to see them making it illegal for “children to dress up and knock on doors” or “to demand treats with menaces”.

    The problems with policy stem from the current Cabinet’s vast inexperience: the Health Secretary has been in post for just over two years now; the PM and the Chief Medical Officer a year. The Joint Biosecurity Centre is overseen by a senior spy who monitors the spread of coronavirus and suppresses new outbreaks. Add to this mix the new chair of the National Institute for Health Protection, who similarly has little or no background in healthcare. Our leaders amount to little more than a Dad’s Army of highly paid individuals with little or no experience of the job at hand.

    This inexperience leads to rash decisions and arbitrary policies.

  2. Photos of whose faces might adorn Guys atop the nation’s bonfires…?

    I’ve been toying with idea of selling a range of waxwork effigies for people to stick pins into.

  3. I’m quite in favour. Having trick or treaters accompanied by parents on the streets keeps the egg-throwing and car-vandalising teenagers at bay.

  4. “pure and entire invention of the little platoons”: in England it’s surely just creepy copying of an American habit.

    In Scotland it’s a real thing dating back presumably to pre-Christian times. But even being ancient doesn’t prove it to be an invention of little platoons: maybe some Iron Age priesthood imposed it on the plebs. Who knows?

  5. I’ve been convinced now for a couple of months or so that current government actions are designed not to deal with a real crisis, but to exaggerate and embed a sense of crisis: to retrospectively justify the initial – arguably understandable – lock-down to manage an unknown new disease.

    Of course we now know much more about that disease and it just isn’t that serious. But very serious economic damage has undoubtedly already been done. And for that reason, I reckon governments around the world are struggling with how to deal with the fallout. I bet that – rather than coming out of it now, and people thinking ‘well, that was an overreaction’ and having an inevitable negative electoral response – it’s being gambled that after another 9 months or so of this people will think ‘Well, that was really serious, so not an overreaction and we forgive (and thank!) the wise powers-that be’.

    Either that, or Hancock and Johnson are suffering hysteria, or a form of PTSD which is affecting their decision-making. Especially in Boris’ case.

    Or both.

  6. What vast experience is needed to deal with a seasonal respiratory epidemic which happens every year? There is two centuries of experience and knowledge, understanding, analysis and experts Worldwide, all of which has been/is being ignored.

    Here’s a summary.

    https://youtu.be/8UvFhIFzaac

  7. “We should cancel Hallowe’en because it’s a stupid commercialised US import. And not for any other reason.”

    Would you feel better if it were imported from Canada?

  8. In America my very distant impression is the Halloween fancy dress is often something pop-cultural like superheroes or cartoon characters, whereas in England it is usually something spooky, witch or ghost-themed. So it doesn’t seem to have been a wholesale copying, or maybe it was and then one or other diverged?

    Anybody know why this is?

    For what it’s worth, I quite like eating pumpkin. Not sure why it isn’t eaten more regularly. Minority opinion but I feel the same about Brussels sprouts, rather spoiled by being pigeonholed for use on a particular date.

  9. As Tony Heller picked up from Fauci’s statement, Covid is not spread by asymptomatic people. The entire Western reaction is a diversion, in effect. Unless . . . symptomatic people can’t be trusted to stay the hell away from everyone else. It’s true that Cuomo can’t be trusted not to send symptomatic people into care homes.

    But children ringing doorbells presents no threat whatsoever.

  10. MBE: All Hallows’ Eve has more to do with saints than with the Justice League of America though the present pontiff may of course decide to add St Superman or St Batman to the canon.

  11. “Demanding free stuff with menaces is a Scottish thing?” No, that’s an American thing.

    In Scotland (whenIwasbutalad) you performed some sort of entertainment – sang, danced, or in my case did a handstand against a wall and recited a short poem. Then you were allowed to participate in some jolly food-related jape such as dookin’ for apples. Then you’d be given a couple of sweets or a tangerine and sent on your way. All very civilised and couthy.

  12. @TMB

    Yes it’s the trick-or-treat fancy-dress bit that confuses me, I’m very hazy what historical relationship that, or the “spooky” spirit realm/ghouls/general commemoration of the dead stuff, has with either All Hallow’s or the pre-Christian tradition before it. My very limited understanding is that some form of costume element was a long-running Celtic aspect (think dearieme is right about it being “an actual thing” in Scotland rather than a US import) but whether that was more about ghouls or impersonation or fancy dress in general, whether it was pre-Christian or not, I have no idea. And somehow the US version seems to have ended up in a very different place to the UK one, but whether that’s radical divergence, a slow drift apart or a cultural import that didn’t exactly translate, I haven’t the foggiest.

  13. All Saints Day. Having looked at the Catholic calendar, can’t hep but notice that, apart from days with other religious significance, every day seems to come with it’s attached saint. Was the early church running some sort of martyrdom quota? “Go out & stand in front of the archery butts, lad. Get yourself pierced with arrows for the Lord” Does All Saints Day imply they missed the target or overshot?

  14. Damn! Missed the obvious gag. ” “Go out & stand in front of the archery butts, lad. Get yourself pierced with arrows for the Lord. We’ve only got the last week in October to fill & we’ve got the full set”
    Oh for an edit function.

  15. “Was the early church running some sort of martyrdom quota?”

    Trying to match the other polytheist religions. They’ve got Poseidon, so Catholics countered with Brendon, Christopher, and Elmo. And Andrew and Clement.

  16. My understanding was that All Hallows eve was the day before All Saints, the resurrection when the dead rose from their graves. Hence the ghouls and zombies.

  17. “All Hallows eve was the day before All Saints, the resurrection when the dead rose from their graves.”
    Tricky for those eaten by lions. Do they arise from their own grave or the lion’s?

  18. What dearieme said.
    Trick or treat is a stupid American invention – previous generations would have got a cuff round the ear if they’d tried that on.
    I can remember dunking for apples but I wasn’t good at it.
    The Anglican prayerbook has saints’ days but they are a modest minority of days of the year – I get the feeling that post-Reformation Popes created a lot of local saints as part of a marketing campaign as peasants would feel more loyalty to a local saint not recognised by the Protestants than a Pontiff hundreds of miles away in Rome.

  19. @john77

    Recall any costuming, even if not trick or treat related? I believe the dressing up component had a long (many centuries) history in Scotland and maybe Ireland.

    Not sure whether it was some distant cultural relation of mummering, which still seems to be an (Xmas-season) tradition in Labrador.

  20. @MBE: it was called guising. We’d dress up in old clothes, assume some sort of disguise – a false moustache, maybe, or a liberal application of burnt cork, or a hat many times too big – and carry a lantern carved from a neep.

    What it conspicuously lacked were two features of the American tradition (i) there was no threat of violence or damage, implicit or explicit, and (ii) there was no notion of getting something for nothing – only once you’d done your party trick were the apples and biscuits and whatnot available to you.

    I suppose that the American tradition is what the Scottish tradition would have become if adopted by Chicago gangsters.

  21. Darn it, I forgot the treacle scones. What a wonderful mess you could get into with those.

    Still, burnt cork and treacle, eh? Very unwoke.

  22. Wot Tim sed…

    The whole Halloween thing is a “sanitised” mongrel from the US, with its roots in Samhain.
    Well for the “celtic” version anyway. The traditions runs deep in the entire germanic, celtic and slavic set of cultures, and there’s examples of still surviving Local Traditions all over Europe.

    The premise is simple: the “veil between worlds” is thinnest at that time of year, so it’s easy for the spirits of the deceased to cross over, and they’re supposed to use the opportunity en masse. If need be with a little push and shove.
    At the same time, of course, it’s damn easy for Bad Spirits ( pick your folklore, they’re many…) to cross into this world and wreak some havoc. Which, of course, you don’t want.

    The general solution has always been dressing up and chasing the Bad Spirits back to where they belong ritually. Or bribe them, in the case of hordes of brats, dressing up and knocking on your door, representing…
    All very Thradhithional and wholesome. And with winter approaching, for the adults the last chance for a good party, celebrating a Job Well Done.

    Quite a lot of those traditions were so universal and so deep-rooted the Church couldn’t get rid of them, so they took the practical approach : They moved the dates of their festivals to coïncide with the “Pagan” festivals that couldn’t be rooted out.
    So we got Christmas, Easter, and yes… Halloween ( and a sheaf of (some obviously tailor-made) Saints..) at the dates they are. And people ignoring that the nativity story makes no bloody sense for the season… And stuff.

    Some of that …editing.. can even be found in the Anglo-Saxon Chronicles ( to keep things UK-ish). The complaining of self-important monks is fun when they spill too much of the beans when they assume no-one local can read what they write anyway… 😉

  23. Not sure whether it was some distant cultural relation of mummering, which still seems to be an (Xmas-season) tradition in Labrador.

    You can still find mummering in England around yule.

  24. @ MBE
    I don’t actually remember about costumes – I left Scotland when I was 6 – but I did have some accoutrements to an “Irish” costume so I probably wore it for Hallowe’en

  25. Bloke in North Dorset

    “ So we got Christmas, Easter, and yes… Halloween ”

    I thought Easter was one of the rare Christian traditions that wasn’t taken from pagans, which is why the won’t/can’t nail it down to a specific date?

  26. “I thought Easter was one of the rare Christian traditions that wasn’t taken from pagans”: we used to decorate hard-boiled eggs, roll them down a brae, and then consume. Sounds like a pagan Spring celebration to me.

    The date business is based on a misunderstanding of how the Jewish priests of Jesus’ time fixed the date of Passover.

  27. @djc, JuliaM
    No. The pumpkins and other crap is USA.

    Halloween (Samhuinn) & fancy-dress was always big in NI (and Scotland) and was our bonfire and fireworks night too, Apple bobbing/dunking, Toffee Apple etc too

    @John B
    Spot on

    @MBE
    The USA ‘trick or treat’ was combining Halloween with 5 November’s ‘penny for the guy’. Fancy dress modern prob as no shared history

  28. As a ‘Merican, I’m not embarrassed at all by Halloween. People have fun. Y’all sound like you are against fun.

  29. I thought Easter was one of the rare Christian traditions that wasn’t taken from pagans

    There is some thought that it is named after an English fertility goddess Eostre, but a few seconds of googling can’t confirm if that is regarded as fact or myth.

  30. Spring is here, celebrate, the new born lambs etc – a common enough festival in a northern hemisphere society.

  31. Julia: I’m from Norn Iron and I used to do it when I was a we’an. We used to dress up, wear masks and sing a begging song (a reworked Christmas song, I think, about a goose getting fat).

    I actually preferred it when, a few years ago, it became okay to give them sweets and nuts instead of money. I used to have to save small change for months ahead to keep in the hall for them.

  32. @ BiND
    It wasn’t so much pagan festivals as pagan “holy places” that were incorporated by the pre-Reformation church. All the “Holy Wells” were blessed by a Bishop and converted from worship of some local pagan goddess of the spring/water into, hopefully, Christian shrines. Harvest festival has roots in Old Testament Judaism. The Christmas Feast is an attempt to convert the old Yuletide/Saturnalia into a Christian one, but there aren’t any other feast-days celebrated by Protestants that are adopted from paganism. Easter and Hallowe’en are times of prayer rather than feasting, except for the Easter egg tradition.

  33. what is halloween? Something to do with Snoopy and pumpkins?
    Remember remember the 5th of November. Gunpowder, Treason and Plot. And aim those fireworks towards Westminster! Build the bonfire high, with copies of all those EU laws we are about to ditch. Effagies of prominent EU figures, and all the traiterous MPs.

  34. @Gamecock
    Fun? In NI we loved Halloween, great fun – reduced a lot when fireworks banned due to septics funding terrorists

    It’s the Septicisation we don’t like. Turnips much better than pumpkins and candle inside smells nice

    NI: New Year, Easter, 12 July, Halloween, Christmas – fun

    @tom
    Goose rings a bell – ‘spare a penny’ ‘old man’s hat’?

    @Fawkes
    Hancock

  35. Christmas is coming, the geese are getting fat,
    Please to put a penny in the old man’s hat.
    If you haven’t got a penny, a ha’penny will do.
    If you haven’t got a ha’penny, God bless you.

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