Halloween is commercial and unnecessary. Can’t we give it a rest?

Young boy dressed as a vampire for Halloween (Photo: PA)

So, what are you doing for Halloween?

I myself am doing absolutely nothing, but it is easy for me as I do not have any children. There are no little people in my house pestering me to take them out trick or treating, or to decorate the hallway with fake cobwebs, or to help them dress up as witches. For all of which I am profoundly grateful; and as for those parents who have to do all these things, you have my sympathy.

It is always risky to frown on something that other people enjoy and which seems of itself harmless. After all Halloween is hardly akin to liking gladiatorial contests or bear-baiting. Nevertheless, I am not a fan of Halloween.

In Italy, Halloween arrived, as it did here, from America, but some years later. Italians despise Halloween; they see it as an import from what they call “il mondo Anglo-sassone”, and thus foreign to their culture and damaging to it. Here too some purists might see children celebrating Halloween as a part of the continuing MacDonaldsisation of our culture, but this argument is not a particularly strong one with me. On the whole I would like Britain to be more like America; and many good things have come to us from the US and been absorbed by us, such as eating turkey at Christmas.

My real beef with Halloween is that it is commercial and unnecessary. We do not need yet another ersatz feast which compels us to buy things we do not need. We have had it up to here already with our commercialised Christmas, Mother’s Day, Father’s Day and so on. Can’t we give it all a rest, and allow our supermarkets to sell us things that we actually need? In fact my objection to Halloween is the same as my objection to Christmas as currently celebrated: the religious meaning has been lost under a tsunami of schmaltz. Just as at Christmas we need to celebrate the birth of Christ, at Halloween we need to celebrate the first Vespers of All Saints.

Halloween seems to me to be not a pagan celebration, but rather a post-Christian celebration. When you cut down the tree, all sorts of secondary growths spring up. Because we no longer celebrate Christian feasts, we still need something to celebrate, and thus we make do with Halloween.

It would be good to hold All Saints parties instead; or parties for All Souls, with a trip to visit the family graves. That would be beneficial fro children! And as for dressing up, what’s wrong with Carnival?