This is one of those topics that even at my ripe old age of thirty, I’m yet to make up my mind about.
Before emigrating to the UK, I was vaguely aware of Halloween as something that existed only in Hollywood movies. It took an episode of ‘Friends‘ to realise that it was actually a full blown, proper holiday in the United States. I didn’t think much of it though, at the time in Nigeria, because, I mean… come on; we had bigger fish to fry. It quite frankly just wasn’t an issue.
After arriving in the UK, atleast during my first year, I had little or no encounter with halloween as my itinerary consisted mainly of going to UNI, then to the Library and back home so I basically had no idea that people celebrated Halloween (albeit on a smaller scale at the time) in the UK.
Imagine my surprise when one night, a couple of years after graduating from Uni, while on a night out with my newly acquired boyfriend (now husband), It felt like all the super hero rejects from Hollywood had suddenly decended on London town! It took the hubby to point out that it was Halloween for me to understand the apparent siege.
They were everywhere! Especially around central London. This was quite a surprise for me as I had been living in London now for two years and I’d never seen one single person in my area of town; North London, ever dressed in a costume or even talking about Halloween. No one ever came to knock on our door trick or treating either, so forgive my ignorance at the time.
We’d barely taken off our coats as soon as we’d gotten to said newly acquired boyfriend’s house which was a stone’s throw away from central London when we heard the doorbell ring. We looked at each other puzzled, I was new to this and this was his house so as far as I was concerned, he was in charge ;-).
He went to get the door (me trailing behind him in tip toes) and standing at the door was the cutest bunch of kids I’d ever seen. There were three of them I think, all dressed in costumes ranging from tigers to lady birds and such, and my heart had just turned to marshmallows! They were absolutely adorable, and they were escorted by their mum too.
Obviously the boyfriend and I went from righteous indignation at having our pre planned nice quiet evening rudely interrupted to dashing into the kitchen searching cupboards above and beyond for sweeties, or bisuits or anything to give to the kids. Fortunately, the boyfriend had a nice stash of sweeties and ‘cadbury’s celebrations’ to save the day and we sent the happy kids on their merry way.
Needless to say that was the end of our quiet night, I just couldn’t turn them away as they came one after the other in various costumes. Surprisingly, I found that I actually enjoyed it, but I suspect this was probably because it was children who came knocking all night.
I didn’t think much of Halloween after that, the next year, the then boyfriend and I had become smarter, we stayed out for most of the night on Halloween. Subsequent years, we turn off the lights and it’s as though the others get the message because no one comes knocking if you don’t let the first ones in. I don’t even know if I mind or not but the now hubs doesn’t really care much for it.
last night, a documentary on the BBC about how some big supermarkets prepare for Halloween got me thinking about it again though. Apparently, millions of Pumpkins are now being sold in the UK every Halloween and that’s set to rise over the years, as well as costumes and other spooky paraphernalia…looks to me like this is one American Holiday that is here to stay.
If this is the case, then I think it’s time I make make my mind up about where I stand as I might have some explaining to do to my toddler in a year or so when he starts school.
I don’t mind the fun bit of Halloween, the parties and the dressing up and the part this plays in bringing everyone together. What I think keeps me away from Halloween is my religion and my Nigerian upbringing. Being a Muslim, it’s a no brainer; there’s just no way it’s Islamically acceptable to celebrate Halloween. Same goes for Nigerian culture,
In Nigeria, witches and wizards are the absolute bane of the society. For years, the movie industry ( a.k.a Nollywood) was awash with stories of the evil and atrocities that these characters wreck in our society. I don’t mean the watered down, mild mannered witches in Hollywood movies here, I mean the real deal and most times, these stories were downright scary and had serious religious and cultural repercussions both in movies and in real life.
This is why it’s difficult for me to celebrate stuff like this, where I come from, things like these don’t only exist in fantasies, they are the stuff many a pastor has made his millions from through exorcism and banishing away of evil spirits and forces.
Astonishingly, I hear that the holiday is also big in Nigeria now so I’m thinking, if the country can move on, maybe it’s time for me to do so too?
But then….there is the small matter of me being a scaredy cat. Seriously, I can not watch a horror movie, if i do, I will no doubt be haunted by it for several weeks after watching it and this has been the situation since I was a child. I get scared of anything that crawls or flies. I cannot kill a spider and I jump at every single moth that finds it’s way into our home..so you see where I’m coming from?
My main worry is that the kids will undoubtedly want to get involved when they’re old enough and I don’t know if I’ll have the liver for it, but we’ll just have to wait and see I guess.
For now, I’ve decided to see the funny side of halloween so I’ll leave the lights on tonight and my pack of ‘Cadbury’s Quality Street’ is already on the dinning table…..bring it on folks.