One of my earliest memories of Halloween is noticing my neighbour’s rather uncouth decorations, and it’s only now that I’ve realised that this probably formed the genesis of my adult attitude towards the “holiday”. He had no pumpkins, no skeletons, no little tubs of sweets and chocolate. He hadn’t decorated his garden, or made any particular effort to make his house scary or spooky. No, what he’d done is got a sharpie and scrawl on a big cardboard sign the simple, elegant words “Bugger off! We’re ENGLISH!”
You see, my neighbour had discovered the hidden truth of Halloween, namely that it’s ridiculous, tiresome, and horribly American. Every year, I dread the 31st October and the weeks that precede it, because I know that I will once again be subjected to hordes of Halloween groupies, for whom not spending hours carving fruit, have the temerity to remain in normal clothing, and not consuming your body weight in sugar is tantamount to criminal activity.
My question is simple: why? Why should any sane person bother with Halloween? It’s fun, you might say. What’s fun about it? I’m too old to trick or treat, not that I ever did. (Again, it’s far too American.) Dressing up is about the most tedious thing I can imagine and, as far as I can gather, most people don’t really bother doing it properly anyway. (I’m no fashionista, but DIY cat costumes and red paint on your white shirt don’t really count, but you’ll see enough of them every October.) I suppose it’s an excuse to have a drink as, you know, we students almost never get an opportunity to have a drink or three, but other than that I really don’t see the point.
In light of this, I propose a beautifully simple solution: ban Halloween. Not necessarily the word or the celebration, but let’s at least legislate against what Halloween has become. Now this may seem rash at first, but at least let me make the case. We’re all open-minded, liberal students, after all.
We would all at least be liberated from the social hell that the “tradition” is rapidly becoming. No longer would we have to feign interest in what people are dressing up as, and neither would we have to worry about fashioning a costume out of spare household cardboard at the last minute to save yourself from social embarrassment. Fancy dress parties would be no more, and we could all go back to just having a nice drink in a controlled, normal environment. It would also, in a very real sense, be a great social leveller: we could take back the 31st October from those who have the time and money to make (or buy) a stupidly intricate costume, and restore socialising and partying to normalcy.
Finally (and I think I speak for the silent majority here) Halloween is a colossal faff. For the more outgoing amongst us, it means throwing a party, a stressful responsibility that I am convinced no normal person can honestly enjoy. Will enough people come? Will people dress up? Should we provide snacks? Do we have enough drinks? No, all these worries will vanish in an instant, and you will be truly free. More importantly, however, it will emancipate the unenthusiastic masses from the chore of fancy dress. No more agonising over what to wear (even though you knew you weren’t going to put any effort in, anyway) as you can just wear your regular comfortable clothes, and maybe even stay in and sleep at a regular hour.
I don’t think this is an impossible task, either. In my experience, Halloween zeal fades rapidly once people progress beyond the age of eleven, and I honestly think I could get most of the country on my side. We are a grumpy, lazy nation, and I think we’re all a bit tired of this Halloween malarkey. It’s far too garish, and far too much effort: ban it, before it’s too late!