I can't be the only one who DOESN'T celebrate Halloween right?
Jump on social media or take a walk down the shops and Halloween seems to dominate the world during October and me and my pumpkin photos feel a tad inadequate. There isn't a day that goes by without yet another advert or promoted post pushing spider shaped food or a horror fest in your face and frankly, it's all getting a bit... much.
Maybe it's a cultural thing?
Here in the UK I can recall acknowledging Halloween maybe ONCE in my entire childhood, at a Halloween party organised at a local pub. During the 90's we wore plastic witch hats and a bin bag. It was nothing like the Halloween's celebrated by our American cousins. No trick or treating. No pumpkin picking. Definitely no pumpkin-spiced lattes. For us, October was all about the Harvest Festival- the end of the summer harvest, gathering all the food we had, and sharing the bounty with the community. I remember the piles of vegetables, tinned goods, sunflowers and bunches of autumnal leaves and swags of dried hops decorating the heaving tables at school. I remember the songs we sung. Apple bobbing. Collecting conkers. Taking boxes of food donations to elderly neighbours. The way the sky started to go that inky blue colour around 4pm as the nights drew in. Definitely no mangled limbs, face paint or horror movie marathons. Sandwiched between Harvest and Bonfire Night, Halloween came and left swiftly in the form of the Simpsons special and maybe watching The Adams Family.
That was it.
Halloween only really came into my life around 2003... when I had just started university and any excuse to dress up in something attention seeking and get wasted seemed like a good idea. And many parties were had. Including the one were I was scouted by Playboy in my bunny costume and invited in for a test shoot (which I politely declined)... It was fun but also mostly forgettable (and it wasn't the Absinth). The only thing I took away from this time in my life was what I learned about Halloween, or Samhain, from my witch friends whose celebrations seemed to align a lot more with what I understood that time of year to represent.
The end of the bounty of summer.
The beginning of the great sleep of winter.
I never became a witch but I couldn't fail to see the sense in their rituals and ceremonies. I was privileged to witness a coven conduct a ceremony to celebrate that Hallowed Evening as a guest and that was the only time I recall seeing real magic at Halloween. It was refined, and revered, and full of love, and deeply spiritual. It was moving.
The skeletons with glowing eyes, zombies and vampires all seemed a bit bizarre in comparison. After that none of the usual Halloween celebrations made sense to me.
And do I really need to point out the elephant in the room? Halloween is big commercial business. They try really hard to get us to spend money, even if it means selling us the idea that everyone on Earth is celebrating Halloween... even when we're not, in the hope to part us from our hard earned cash.
Do you know what I'm going to buy this Halloween?? A box of Haribo Starmix. That's it. And not for trick or treaters either because WE JUST DON'T GET ANY. In the past I've stocked up! Oh yes, dear reader. As a home owner I have prepared for the influx of mask-wearing, fake blood-dipped revellers who I was promised would be knocking constantly on my door come October 31st. But no. No one ever came. In 12 years I've seen maybe 7 trick of treaters. And come to think of it, I've never been trick or treating myself. And I doubt my children will ever go either... just because... well... we don't know anyone who does.
So where is everyone? Do they even exist? Maybe everyone's hiding at home with the lights off hoping nobody bothers them? (Now THAT's a story I've heard far more often.)
Maybe this is the spookiest stunt Halloween has ever pulled? None of this really exists outside of Pinterest?
So today I stand up, raise my hand and say NO to Halloween.
Yet again I will not be donning my Morticia wig and dressing up this year. No, you won't be getting Halloween artwork from me. No, I definitely won't be eating 'spooky' black and orange themed food either (how is that even spooky??)... at a push I might get a pumpkin or two and do that incredibly non-instagramable thing of, yknow... eating it... and then regretting it, because pumpkin tastes fucking awful and covers my kitchen in a film of sludge during its preparation that takes hours to tidy up... all for a glorified candle holder that goes mouldy soon after. I'd rather just go to bed with a book thanks. And keep those Haribo to myself.
With that said. I don't deny anyone their enjoyment at this time of year. I am more then happy to indulge others. I've hosted parties. I've been to parties. I've shredded bin bags to make ghosts and removed that awful cobweb stuff from my fake eyelashes. I've eaten Halloween themed Krispy Kremes. My kids get me to dress them up and do their makeup. We watch Coraline. It's fun!
But I acknowledge this time of year in other far more subtle ways:
I will breath the air. I will light a fire and say thank you. I will feel gratitude for the food I have. I will look ahead to the winter and know I have a warm home to sleep in. I will enjoy my good fortune.
And I will continue to take my crappy photos of pumpkins.