Ghosts and Sensibility

You're dying to know about Halloween in London. What did we do? What did we wear? What did we say? It's all very exotic and foreign.

Or you're just bored cause it's Sunday and nothing is happening on social media and you're pretending to read something pertinent on your smartphone, tucked discreetly behind the pew. Whatever the case, hello, and don't worry, there's no sound or video in this post.

You wouldn't have really known it was Halloween around here until a couple of days before the event. Some pumpkins put out, some spider webs here and there, and a few tombstones at the more ambitious places. Newsflash: the Brits start prepping for Christmas in September, and anything else in the interim is just a fun distraction until The Holiday.

It couldn't have been a nicer day - about 70 degrees - sunny and warm. Someone said it's the warmest Halloween in the UK on record. I'll take it, cause I wasn't having any luck figuring out how to get a coat over Cleopatra's arm party.

I should also point out that Eli was told he had to dress up if he wanted to go trick or treating. He was dropping hints that he might just go around collecting candy as a "Boy," but I read him the Halloween Handbook about the uniform requirements. Which is why, you will see he is clearly ready to trick or treat as, "Random Horse Boy."  #igiveup


We met up with some friends from school and they led us to the best streets. It's sort of like clusters of trick or treating - even the streets that were very crowded just had every fifth house participating. It seems that lit pumpkins are the universal go-ahead signal. The candy scene is quite restrained - only one piece per child, and you better get there first, because one bag of candy means the house is out pretty quickly. Most kids had small pumpkin buckets - very small and once they got to the rim, they were delighted with their haul. My kids were a bit stunned but then quickly opened their big American mouths about how much more candy they would get in the States. I had to shut down the bragfest about the streets of the US being paved with sweets with my wilting mom glare. I'm just glad I don't have to deal with a month of eating down the stash, best (chocolate) to worst (any hard candy).

Here are my impressions - you either go all out or don't do it at all. The houses that were doing trick or treating were very prepared. Lots of decorations, real life goblins hiding in bushes, hanging mutilated body parts, and sometimes performances. Yes, there were people putting on shows on their thresholds. Way more adults in costume. In fact, I felt weird not being dressed up, especially because the other moms called me out on it:

"You're American! We expected you to be wearing an absolutely over the top costume!"

You also don't see a lot of cute costumes, er I mean, fancy dress. (Yes, it's called fancy dress here, which doesn't quite make sense to me because a chainsaw zombie just doesn't scream Fancy Dress.)  Costumes are supposed to be scary - lots of witches, ghouls, goblins, and vampires. I didn't see a single princess or fairy. Well, I think I saw a zombie princess, but she was wearing a lot of black and some blood.

When we returned to our house, it didn't look as though anyone had been trick or treating on our street. It really just seems to be certain areas - or people that throw Halloween parties. But you know what? It was kind of nice to get a break from the weeks-long preparation for Halloween in the states. The pumpkin patches and trunk-or-treats, and parties, and school parades - I just didn't have to deal with any of that. I do love all of those things, but it just takes so much planning and energy, this felt so low key and to the point. We got dressed up and went out, got our candy, and were home by 8pm. Very sensible, which is pretty much the British ethos.




Mendy Waits2 Comments