Theo Hobson: Halloween is for grown-ups too

It’s Halloween. Listen carefully, and you’ll hear the familiar annual sound of shrieking and groaning – not of witches and ghosts but of liberals whining about the horror of commercialism. Frightening spend on Halloween, read a Guardian headline a few weeks ago. Supermarkets are cashing in on the festival, the article explained, and taking about 10 times what they did five years ago.

Instead of complaining about its commercial aspect, we should be glad that Halloween is booming. It’s part of a wider trend: British culture has, in the last decade or so, woken up to the value of festivals. We are hungry for moments of shared meaning. We have begun to realise that we are a festival-impoverished culture. We only have a few shared cultural moments, fixed in the calendar. Apart from Christmas, what is there? Easter is a non-event for most of us. Guy Fawkes/Bonfire Night is still fun, but the meaning is vague (it should be reinvented as British Freedom Day). Valentine’s Day pleases smug and cheesy couples. And that’s about it. (It’s because we are so festival-impoverished that we get so over-excited about national sport, which can only partly satisfy our urge to unite in celebration. It doesn’t produce reliable occasions for joy, to put it mildly.)

So Halloween is the second best festival we have

Read it all


Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, England / UK

7 comments on “Theo Hobson: Halloween is for grown-ups too

  1. libraryjim says:

    I’m listening to “Live 365” internet radio at work, and have it set to a station playing Hallowe’en music (right now, the theme from “The Munsters”).

    I, however, seem to be the only one dressed for the occasion at work. I dressed as ‘Clark Kent’ with long sleeved shirt, open to reveal a Superman t-shirt underneath, and lest anyone miss the message, a tie draped around my neck with Clark Kent pulling open his shirt to reveal his Superman costume underneath.

    LOL I can’t wait to get home tonight to take my son around the neighborhood for trick or treating.

  2. libraryjim says:

    I disagree with one thing, though. For a Christian, this is not the ‘second most important holiday’.

    For me, it’s like sixth on the list:

    Wedding anniversary (you who are married know this is true!)
    St. Patrick’s Day

  3. Br. Michael says:

    Ah, the problem of diversity. As the common bonds of shared culture disappear, what is there to hold people together? Strength though diversity is a pipe dream. At some point the civilization will start to break apart or coexist bound only by the most fragle of ties.

  4. ReinertJ says:

    Theo is making a bit of an overstatement! Halloween has very little to do with English culture it is an American thing, it is not celebrated in Britain. Here in Aus it is seen most definately as another American import and as such resisted.
    Jon R.
    p.s. I know it may come as a shock, but we don’t celebrate Thanksgiving either!

  5. driver8 says:

    It is difficult when you have to write all the time. Sometimes you know you are writing rubbish but can console yourswelf that it is wrapping chips the next day.

    I recall the first person marking Halloween that I ever met. A lone, uncostumed teenager who knocked on the door of my house during the day in 1990 and said ‘trick or treat’. I had no idea what he meant or what was supposed to happen. I gave him 50p.

  6. Ross says:

    On a bit of a side note, but speaking of Halloween

  7. azusa says:

    # 4 – what? No Fourth of July either? What about college homecoming?…..