Friday, 21 October 2011

A Slower Start to "The Holidays"

As a kid, I thought of "the holidays" as the time of the year between Halloween and New Year's Day, inclusive.  I think most (American) adults consider the holidays to be about one month shorter than this due to the realisation - made at the time that soliciting free candy from your neighbours becomes embarrassing - that Halloween is not in the same holiday category as Thanksgiving, Christmas or New Year's.  From about that time, most people either give up Halloween or use it as an excuse to dress up as a sexy nurse or wear a "THIS IS MY COSTUME" t-shirt and getting staggeringly drunk.  (OK, I have no scientific evidence that those two options are what "most people" do, but I have anecdotal evidence.)

This continues to be the state of affairs until the people who gave it up, the sexy nurses and the "THIS IS MY COSTUME" guys have kids.  Well, Bethie and I are at about this point in our relationship with Halloween.  I have never really cared much for Halloween, with the exception of handing out candy to kids who ring the bell.  Bethie is fonder of Halloween, though I don't believe she ever took the sexy nurse route, so perhaps she's an exception to the rule.


I sense that these last months of the year - "the holidays" - are going to present a couple of unwelcome cultural changes for your new Londoners.  We're having a great time embracing the cultural differences of our new home, but no one ever said anything about giving up holidays.  I mean, Thanksgiving is going to be brutal.  To a much lesser extent Halloween.  Apparently Halloween isn't a big deal here.  That suits me fine, but I recognise that the world would be a better place if it had a few photos of Charlotte dressed as a pumpkin.

We understand from our sources that trick-or-treating isn't really "a thing", but surely retailers try to push it, right?  Let's walk down to Sainsbury's and find out:

Well, good: we can get a pumpkin for carving.  Little known (?) fact: the pumpkin is an import to Europe from the Americas.  By the way, £1.50 seems like a steal.  Then again, it's a vegetable that you cut holes in for decorative purposes and then throw away without eating.  So, maybe not.

If you pay twice as much, they'll make it "monster".

I'm not entirely sure, but I think most of this stuff is on sale most of the year, but with less "scary" packaging.  I've never seen "cinder toffee" flavour before, though.  Sounds OK.  I'd eat it.

I expect the only thing "petrifying" about these is the ingredient list.  Or the texture.  Anyway, the point of this photo is that marshmallows are not your traditional Halloween treat.

But they make more sense than this bag of wacky.  Cheese and onion potatoes snacks...let me tell you this: if someone dared to stick a handful of crispy cobwebs into my plastic jack-o-lantern candy carrier, they'd feel the business end of a witch's broomstick.

A costume is called "fancy dress" here.  This was confusing to me when Charlotte's nursery told us that some employees would be in "fancy dress" one day as a charity fundraiser. 

On the right is the Halloween aisle.  On the left is one of several of the Christmas aisles, which have been set up since about June.  I think we know which holiday this country really does well.

Missing are the huge displays of "fun size" (fun?  pshaw!) candies.  In fact, there is almost no Halloween candy at all.  There are some ghost-shaped Haribo gummies, but no Tootsie Rolls, no tamarind-chili candies (oh man, in 2003, we were that house the kids avoided...Bethie actually ran across the street to give those things away), and definitely no Smarties.


  1. For the record, I was never a sexy nurse, but I was a French maid. Does that count?


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