Halloween is upon us this week and children all over America will be dressing up as ghosts, witches and monsters etc. to go trick or treating to get candy and such from willing neighbours. The holiday has grown in popularity in my adopted country of Great Britain over the past two decades. However, the celebration of Halloween in Britain has brought more than its share of controversy along with it. Many Britons, especially the older generations and some on the political left, resent this ‘American’ holiday being ‘forced’ on them. Many see the practice of trick or treating as nothing more than sanctioned begging. Even the usually pro-American, Republican Party supporting UK newspaper, The Sun, has claimed that America has forced it onto the people of Great Britain. Listening to them, you might think that the US scrambled a squadron of B-2 bombers and flew them to Britain with the threat of bombing London into oblivion if it didn’t start celebrating Halloween (and the prom.)
A B-2 bomber flies to the UK with fighter escort ready to bomb London if they don’t accept Halloween.
The fact is that America didn’t force Britain or anyone else to celebrate Halloween. Most Americans don’t give two stuffs if any other country celebrates it or not. The real culprit behind the Halloween craze in the UK is children’s television. Thanks to cable and satellite TV, children get a huge range of American children’s programmes that they wouldn’t have known before those days. In many of those children’s shows, there is always one episode every season on Halloween. That’s a lot of Halloween episodes. As a result, British children get to see American children celebrating Halloween and naturally want to do the same thing themselves. Therefore, Halloween has grown bigger and bigger throughout the past 20 years.
Considering myself to be left of centre in my politics, I hear the left’s cries of American capitalism flooding Britain. There is truth in that, especially now that British supermarkets now have sections for Halloween during the run up to it and plenty of adverts on television. However, in spite of all of this, the bottom line is that the children of Britain wanted to celebrate Halloween and go trick or treating. Nobody forced them to do it nor forced their parents into allowing them to do so. People made a choice!
What gets me is that many people in the UK, especially on the left, balk at Halloween simply on the grounds that it’s American. However, if it was celebrated in any other culture, anyone who objected to its celebration in the UK would be called ‘racist.’ Many of those who would do the calling are those who object to Halloween on the grounds that it’s an American holiday. They need to remove their rose coloured glasses.
Let me clarify one thing. There is a practice by some British children that if they don’t get anything when they knock on a door when trick or treating, they throw flour or worse things at the house. Let me say that this is not an American practice. What has happened is that this practice has been confused with the unofficial “Mischief Night” which is the night before Halloween. During this night, windows get soaped, eggs get thrown at houses and other like things. It is not a holiday and it’s illegal. I know that in some of the towns I lived in as a kid, the cops were out in mass on this night.
Halloween is alive and well in Great Britain, like it or not. British children are looking forward to going out trick or treating and adults who embrace are looking forward to giving out sweets and might even go as far as putting on a little scary performance for their visitors. They realize how fun it is and celebrate it in good spirit. Halloween is not forced on anyone, especially not by America.
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