Thursday, November 01, 2007

Happy Run-up-to-Christmas Day

By 4pm yesterday, I had bought no Halloween candy. Last year, we got no trick or treaters and I had to bring the candy in to my work (and eat a fair bit of it myself). But in a last minute glow of Horror Holiday nostalgia I rushed to the local grocery store to find the shelves picked nearly bare. I managed to find some Werther's originals and some kind of strange candy stick thing in boxes, probably the politically correct offspring of candy cigarettes.

I also checked the "seasonal aisle" to see if I could find anything to top up Cletus's outfit. Nope. Where accessories had been reasonably well stocked only days before, there were only a few vials of fake blood and some tatty witches hats. An Arabic speaking father and daughter where tearing through the remnants in search of costuming for a little boy and they sought my help. I pointed to some novelty skull spectacles in a child's size and he seemed happy enough with that, but the distressed daughter was pointing to the spot where £1.50 ($3) capes used to sit.

On the way home I noticed two jack-o-lanterns on my street. Two more than I had ever spotted before. And it warmed the cockles of my halloween heart.

We had two sets of trick-or-treaters - though I did have to go out for a while during peak trick-or-treating time, so we might have had more. At any rate, I did give away some candy - although we do have an awful lot of Werther's original.

Anyway, despite much sneering for many years by the English about this "American" holiday, they finally seem to be taking to it. I've always wondered why folks haven't taken to it more - I mean c'mon, dressing up and free candy. What's not to like? Who doesn't have room on their calendar for an extra fun holiday?


And as we all know, Halloween is no longer All Saint's Eve, but the Run-up-to-Christmas eve. And in recent years it marks the beginning of the "War on Christmas", too. And here's the first story in the gruesome advent calendar. Because this story appears in The Daily Mail - it's hard to tell exactly what the truth is. They distort everything to make it "political correctness gone mad" - I know this because this happened to a project I worked on.

But it appears that a favorite Labour think-tank, the IPPR is about to issue a report calling on us to "downgrade" Christmas. Leaked recommendations include:

"If we are going to continue as a nation to mark Christmas - and it would be very hard to expunge it from our national life even if we wanted to - then public organisations should mark other religious festivals too. We can no longer define ourselves as a Christian nation, nor an especially religious one in any sense.

Britain may no longer be particularly religious, but this country is still ethnically and culturally Christian to a large degree. And folks still love their Christmas.

I'm all for celebrating other holidays - as long as they're about fun and feasting and not scourging and fasting. But I don't see why we need to downgrade any existing holidays to do so.


Slight digression:

Another finding of the IPPR report was that the state should make a bigger deal of the birth registration.

The system in which parents are required to register a new baby at a register office is dismissed as "purely bureaucratic". The occasion should be transformed into a "public rite", using citizenship ceremonies for immigrants as a model, the report says. "Parents, their friends and family and the state [would] agree to work in partnership to support and bring up their child."

Hell, NO! I'm not working in partnership with the state to bring up my child.

And anyway, this shows a leaning toward a particular ethno-religious tradition - infant baptism. I guess there are parallels with some other religions, too - the Bris for Jewish boys and I think there's some kind of thanksgiving sacrifice traditional made for Muslim children (two lambs for a boy, one for a girl, if I recall correctly). But in my religious tradition - hard core Protestantism - we don't hold with such things.

And besides, the report authors (two men) have clearly never had a c-section. You have to register the birth within six weeks - but at that point I couldn't even get myself down to the town hall never mind organise some stupid statist ceremony.


jen said...

"I'm all for celebrating other holidays - as long as their about fun and feasting and not scourging and fasting. But I don't see why we need to downgrade any existing holidays to do so."

well said.

Vol Abroad said...

not that well said - seeing as how I made a grave homophonic offense (now corrected)