For years, youngsters were told never to accept sweets from people they didn't know and yet now this annual escapade has parental approval. It is, of course, all the fault of America.
We have succumbed to the “tradition” of Halloween even though it has never been this sort of tradition on this side of the Atlantic. Goodness knows why we should accept the marketing spin that has us dressing up off-spring as witches, ghouls and Dracula and spending a fortune on confection. Particularly when we have seen all the horror films that have been spawned by the occasion, starting with Michael Myers trying to kill Jamie Lee Curtis for 90 minutes back in 1978.
The message from Hollywood has been clear: Halloween equates with psychopathic slashers on a grand scale.
Unfortunately that first film, shot on a budget of $300,000, grossed $70 million worldwide. The message was clear and the franchise and the many copycat movies helped lodge the date, not just in America's psyche, but Britain's, too.
Centuries ago, we had a Celtic harvest festival around this time called Samhain, when pagans believed the worlds of the living and the recently dead were particularly close. This morphed into the Christian All Hallows Eve – the evening before All Saints Day. Traditions included mummers and prayers and divination: it was said if a person walked backwards down the stairs while staring into a mirror, the face that appeared would be their next sweetheart. Or, if they tripped and broke their neck, they could become the next dearly departed.
Before the importation of the commercialism of Halloween from America, Britain had Mischief Night on November 4. Practitioners might knock on doors and run away but no one expected a bag sweets, wore fancy dress or chased Jamie Lee Curtis with a carving knife.
I suppose my ire has been ruffled because I'm disappointed by the way Britain has succumbed to US influences ever since GIs arrived three years late for the Second World War in 1942.
Rock and roll and Levis followed in the 1950s, although I didn't mind those so much, and anyway we got our own back in the Swinging 60s when Britain led the world in fashion and pop music. Real invasion came with Coca Cola, McDonalds, Colonel Sanders and pizza parlours.
Pizza parlours? In Britain? Why couldn't we be satisfied with chips shops?
And why oh why, did we have to let Halloween in when it is more geared to them than to us? Particularly as it has meant I've had to buy loads of mini Mars bars to hand out to expectant mites who don't know they should actually be celebrating Samhain with a bonfire and a roast ox in the middle of a cold field. They think a fancy dress outfit from Asda and a shy smile is all it takes to start a new tradition. The annoying thing is, they're right.
Read more at Huddersfield Daily Examiner:http://tinyurl.com/k6omhwv