35 / Hallowe'en
I am forever grateful for autumn and inordinately fond of 31st October.
Without autumn’s timely occurrence in our climate, in the annual procession of the seasons, summer would be in danger of slipping undifferentiated into the mawkish, Christmas season. Already intense commercial pressure is piled up against Hallowe’en which is the lynch pin of this season of mists and mellow fruitfullness. Christmas goods begin to make a coy appearance in our shops from earlier in October. Eradicate Hallowe’en and we would be lost in a salmagundi of indistinguishable, undifferentiated merchandise seeking to manipulate our greedy tastes and appetites; tempting us to pounce on early, festive Christmas bargains. If this were to happen the task would be to get Christmas over and done with as soon as feasible so the shops could then be filled, with left-over Christmas commodities at discounted prices for the January sales, until the season was ready for Easter eggs again. A consumerist nightmare vision of untrammeled consumption. A year-round bonanza with celebrations confined to special family occasions and events and a consequent diminution in our sense of sharing in a wider community.
Happily northern Europeans – in particular the Irish and the Celtic Scots - loosed an orange tide of pumpkins into the stream. During the period of mass immigration from these shores Hallowe’en was popularised in America. The Jack o’ Lanterns have multiplied and come bobbing back to us across the Atlantic propelled by all the tacky paraphernalia of tricks and treats and tatty ghoulish costuming that offer up possibilities for exploiting Hallowe’en still further. Bring it on, I say. We can take All Hallows Eve, or leave it. But I, for one, am glad it’s still a calendar date to be reckoned with.