Friday, October 1, 2010

Halloween in England

[Hello readers. This post originally appeared last year. But it's still good--smell it and see for yourself!]

Left: A fancy pumpkin by Scott Quick at his blog "danse Absurd."
Two of my very favorite Brits are bloggers who love horror movies and spooky stuff. They are Paul S. of The Cobwebbed Room and Judd Clarke, the Igloo Keeper at Igloo of the Uncanny.
Wanting to celebrate Halloween with some class, I asked them both about Halloween in Britain. (Brits always have class, unless they're soccer hooligans.) Judd told me "I think it tends to be celebrated in the US a lot more," and Paul told me the same thing.
 Judd did mention however that last year on Halloween he missed a
"free screening of An American Werewolf in London in London at an old converted church with free booze! Imagine how gutted I was!" Of course, I had no idea what he meant by "gutted," unless some suitably gory fate had struck him on Halloween.
 Then I realized that was probably funny British-type talk, like "chokey" for "jail," "stand" for "run," or "biscuits" for when they mean "cookies." (And they completely mangle the meaning of "fanny," which we all know is a perfectly cute and acceptable word for someone's behind.) I guessed that "gutted" meant "disappointed." I meant to ask Judd more about it, but forgot.
 But I digress. Anyway, I asked Paul several more questions and he gave me nice long answers; the Q & A follows this paragraph. Read his descriptions of Halloween in England and then visit
The Cobwebbed Room. Also please visit Judd's macabre and always entertaining Igloo. (A name which in British-speak still means "igloo.")
___________________________________

Paul, what's Halloween in England like? Is it a big deal on television with lots of horror films scheduled?
  PS: For many years now the TV channels seem to almost forget Halloween, either showing the odd film (usually John Carpenter's Halloween), or sometimes a documentary about Monsters or Ghosts. Some years there has been nothing suitable on TV to watch during Halloween. One of the best of these nights was an all-nighter hosted by a horror host called 'Dr.Terror' but the all-nighter only lasted for this one night; there were a few other nights in which he introduced the odd horror film. Haven't seen him now for over 10 years.
Are Halloween traditions similar to those in the U.S.? Are there kids trick-or-treating in costume?
 I think that Halloween here in England is probably very similar to what it is like in America, except your country celebrates this annual event a lot bigger than we do here. I really wish that it was bigger over here because being a horror/monster fan like yourself it is something to look forward to.
 Some people do go around Trick or Treating and dress up in spooky costumes, although I think this has died down these days. My own experience of Trick or Treating with my brother and a few friends is that a lot of the time people either say "No thank you", don't answer the door, open the door and shriek and give you either some loose coins or anything that is edible.
 Some people open the door to you and begin to laugh at you all dressed up and sometimes call other people in the house to have a look at you and then give you a treat of some kind.

Halloween Brits who are neither Paul nor Judd. Image source HERE.

 What are costumes like there? What have you worn in the past?

With other Trick or Treaters some dress up with just a basic mask, or go to town and really make an effort, hiring a costume or making it themselves. Most of the time I used to get made up as Dracula (because I had my own red-lined cloak, etc.) or Zombie of some kind. Another time I made myself a Frankenstein Monster headpiece. Last year I just dressed up as a spooky man with cobweb-covered top hat, tails, and ghoulish grey/white make-up.
Halloween in medieval England. Kings used midgets with plates stuck to the back of their heads to pretend they had given birth to triplets. A very strange and forgotten custom. Source found HERE.
Are there Halloween items on display in people's homes and yards? Decorations and jack-o-lanterns? Halloween parties or other events, like haunted attractions?
A few people decorate their house with Halloween attire, using Happy Halloween banners, black balloons, skeletons, cobwebs etc. Many of us buy a pumpkin or 2 and carve out a spooky face; I am sure you agree it always creates a good effect. I think that unless they have children or like to celebrate the festival, a lot of people don't seem to bother.
 Parties or nightclubs are usually the best place to go for Halloween because the decor is suitably dressed and people make the effort to dress up in all manner of ghosts and ghouls and the downright bizarre.
 There was a time when myself and a friend decided to go as one of the walking dead; we got some old clothes, tore them, soaked them in mud and when they dried poured fake blood down them. I must admit our costumes looked really effective. We went to a nightclub and during the night we kept leaving traces of mud over the seats and dance floor. We kept our costumes for awhile, but when we looked at them later they had gone all mouldy; certainly would have been even more effective but not very nice to wear and they certainly didn't smell too good.


This cat says "Tally Ho-lloween!"

I have seen a few of the Haunted House attractions that you have in America on the internet and on dvd; I wish we had something like that over here. All we really have is ones that appear at fairs usually Ghost trains, although there are some seaside towns that have an Haunted House attraction of some sort and there are places like The London Dungeon etc, but certainly nothing as varied as what you get in your country.
The best shops to buy Halloween-themed items are usually fancy dress shops or supermarkets such as Asda. Some other shops have a few items in but these are usually really cheap and tacky. Some of the best decorations are those that are made in America. I would love to celebrate Halloween in America, to experience to whole monstrous affair.
Thanks Paul and Judd for telling me a bit about Halloween "across the pond." I'd love to host you both for Halloween in America. I'd see to it that you both would have a GREAT time! And I wouldn't kid you in person about British English even once.
Okay, maybe once. But you'd get more in your trick-or-treat bags than anyone else.
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To learn more about Halloween in England, check out this link:
Halloween - History and Traditions of England

Related story about Halloween and people who speak English in a funny way:
Australians hate Halloween.

4 comments:

Melissa Walker said...

Found you through the Countdown to Halloween. "Tally Ho-lloween" made me spit coffee on my keyboard for some bizarre reason.

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Shame they don't do more with the haunted houses and attractions. Universal's big fest would probably overwhelm them.

The Igloo Keeper... said...

Thanks for the shout out Max, you're too kind.
And I must apologise for taking liberties with your language. It won't happen again. I really am a bit of a fanny sometimes. Incidentally, that self same venue I missed the free screening of last year is showing Quatermass and the Pit this Halloween. I won't miss it this time, no sirree - sho' will be swell! I think you say...

Paul said...

Hi Max, thanks for this post, nice to see something about how amazing Halloween is in the UK...Yeah right! When I have tea with the Queen and Prince Charles I shall mention how great your site is Ha Ha AARRRGHHHH!
Just got back from Orlando,Florida, was there on vacation and had a fantastic time, also managed to go to Spooky Empire's Scream Fest held at I-Drive, fantastic event and it was nice to get a taster of Halloween in America;had a look at the Halloween goodies for sale at Walmart and Dollar Tree. Some cool stuff, picked up a few things.

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