A tiger. A ballerina. A bag of jelly beans. A giant baby. These are some of the Halloween costumes I wore before the age of 10. They ooze awesomeness, don’t they? Once I was too old to go trick-or-treating, we’d sit outside handing candy bars to Pooh Bears and famous athletes and as we sat, we’d see a police car and fire truck drive slowly down the road. No, not because they were approaching some Nightmare on Elm Street-esque disaster, but because they would throw candy on the streets to the passing trick-or-treaters. One of our neighbours across the road would set up a haunted house using his garage, with a maze, spooky music, strobe lights and a smoke machine. Carved pumpkins would sit on doorsteps down the street, not with scary faces glowing in the darkness, but the candle within illuminating Spongebob or a scripted “Happy Halloween.” This, my friends, is Halloween in America.
I would love to dress The Duchess up in one of these costumes for her first Halloween and “oh and ah” over her supreme cuteness, but walk into a UK supermarket in search of a costume and all you find are witch, pumpkin, zombie, werewolf and dracula costumes. Halloween, on the whole, is truer to its dark origins here and so seems ‘darker’ across the board.
I’ll give you an example of what I mean by ‘across the board’…we’re not just talking kiddie costumes. A few years ago when I lived in a large city in the UK, I got egged in the lead up to Halloween and it’s important to note here, it wasn’t my house. A car drove by a group of us as we were walking home one night and threw eggs at us from their car. I was one of the lucky ones for I got hit in the back. Others, who were not so lucky, received blows to the head. Not a pretty sight. Eggs can kill a man, you know. (That’s not true, as far as I’m aware, unless they have a severe egg allergy.) Friends of mine were egged the year after that…and the year after that. And that’s not all. We were warned that if you weren’t giving out candy, some lovely young lads and lasses thought it was a hilarious “trick” to put fire crackers through your mail slot. My first Halloween in England was spent with all of the lights off in our house and layers of duct tape covering the mail slot. For the next 8-10 hours, we would quietly live in fear until morning came. Halloween in England.
I can’t say that this is what would happen where I now live where youth rebellion consists of gathering in the car park of the local supermarket and talking really loudly in front of the opposite sex, but alas around this time of year I would kill to see some kid strolling down the street in a Pooh Bear costume, instead of dodging zombies and keeping my eyes peeled for flying eggs.