29 October 2011

The yobs are at it again, letting off firecrackers and fireworks. It started a while back with Diwali, when some people let off fireworks, but yobs being yobs, they latched on to it, and are using it as an excuse to set off fireworks. I have a feeling that this will continue well beyond Guy Fawkes Night. This is the Halloween weekend, so that is – in their mind – yet another good reason to let off more firecrackers and fireworks.

Halloween has become much more prominent in England over the past decade or so. It wasn’t particularly a big deal when I was at school, if I remember correctly. Guy Fawkes Night was a much bigger and a much more eagerly anticipated event: burning stuff was more fun than trick-or-treating or wearing costumes. I believe that in some places in England, the good folks are still burning effigies of the pope, together with those of Guy Fawkes and unpopular politicians.

Go to a supermarket now, and there are shelves of things related to Halloween, from costumes to pumpkins to sweets. The television advertisements use various Halloween themes. While there is a lot of things on sale, Halloween fever has not yet reached that of the US proportions: I was surprised that, by early October, New York City was full of stuff related to Halloween. At least that’s better than finding Christmas merchandise on display from late September, as is the case in many places in Britain.

Generally, the events that had not been central or integral to English calendar are being adopted as such: it is no longer only God of Anglican Christianity and war that mark the calendar, but festivals of other major religions and celebrations of various groups within the society such as St Patrick’s Day. Perhaps this is a pronounced metropolitan phenomenon, however, it’s a great process, as it demonstrates that the dominant or host society is open to others and open to change, as well as the communities and groups being open and sharing their celebrations with the rest of the society.

What is less welcome is the increased commercialization, and the yobs using the diversity of celebrations and commemorations as an excuse for misbehaving.