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Oiche Shamhna Shona Daoibh

How I love Hallowe’en. During my childhood, it was easily the highlight of the year, second only to Christmas and birthdays (yes, OK, that’s third). Here in the UK, people are still getting the hang of it. There is much sniffiness over the fact that it’s an American import, but no one seems to wonder where the Americans got it from. Well, wonder no more: it’s originally a Celtic feast and very popular in Ireland (where understandably the whole Guy Fawkes thing hasn’t caught on). My boss (who is Canadian) was complaining that the British still don’t understand that you should only go trick-or-treating at the houses that have pumpkins, etc. In Queen’s Park, most houses are now ‘on message’ and I saw lots of groups of children marauding around on Sunday evening. They were all accompanied by parents, which seems sad. We never went out with parents unless we were very tiny. Is the world really more dangerous today, or is it just perceived as such? We also made all our costumes: there was no such thing as a shop-bought costume, and I made countless pointy witch hats out of cereal boxes (what did anyone do before those?)

I spent most of the actual Hallowe’en (Sunday) recovering from my party the night before. I didn’t ask people to dress up, but partly inspired by this fabulous blog I did spend about 3 hours making bats out of black card and suspending them from the ceiling. Our stepladder seems to have disappeared, so my friend L had to help me by sitting on the sofa (as ballast) while I hopped up precariously on the back of said sofa hanging the bats with thread and sellotape. I’d had a glass or two of wine at this stage so I feel quite lucky not to have fallen and broken my neck. I was also going to strew the floor with dead leaves which I’ve seen done before and which looked really cool, but I realised this was too much madness. Sometimes I wonder: am I really 33 or am I just pretending?


  1. There's at least one parent per pack of kids in Ireland too and while, like you, I find that a bit sad, would you have the guts to be the one parent not to accompany your child out and about?

  2. eimear

    In our little village we could always buy cardboard pointy hats and masks, the rest of our costumes were always made up though (black coat with sleeves pulled to the inside for a cloak, the “twig” broomstick: my brother had a skeleton mask with a white poloneck and a white balaclava. ) There was always condensation on the inside of the masks after about 5 minutes. We never had parents with us.

    Back in the house we'd have the apple bobbing, coins in a basin, and all that stuff and of course the brack with its cheap plasticky ring in a twist of greaseproof paper. My mother is an excellent baker but that was about the one “shop cake” we did buy.

  3. Eimear: the condensation inside the mask! That just gave me a total madeleine moment. Re the brack: have you noticed that they no longer sell them with rings inside? Probably deemed a health and safety hazard – how sad.
    Basil: No, of course I would not be the one parent to let kids go out alone. Can totally understand why people do, I guess that's just the way things are now.

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