Debbie Young Debates: Halloween or Guy Fawkes' Night?
|Cotswold cosy mystery novelist Debbie Young|
|A fun seasonal read for October|
Most British friends rejected Halloween as a US import at best - which actually, it's not.
The Celts exported the ancient post-harvest festival of Samhain to the States, from which it morphed into its present form, before rebounding back to here with new associations. To be honest, I only realised this relatively recently myself, when attending a glorious Samhain celebration at the Scottish Crannog Centre, an Iron-Age settlement recreated on the banks of Loch Tay.
So where do I stand on the issue?
I have fond memories of childhood Guy Fawkes' parties in our family home, and also of trick-or-treating, American style, when we spent a year in California, when I was eight years old. In the village where I now live, we have both a strong Halloween tradition and an annual community Guy Fawkes party, both of which are much enjoyed by villagers of all ages.
These days both events make me equally uncomfortable for different reasons.
Modern terrorism makes it hard to embrace a night that focuses on a plot to blow up the cradle of our government, even if what we're celebrating is its thwarting. The notion of burning an effigy of anyone, for any reason, is barbaric.
As to Halloween, I think in our uncertain era, children need to pursue sources of comfort rather than fear - and I don't count comfort-eating vast quantities of sweets as a valid means of guarding themselves against the anxieties thrust upon them by the modern world.
But I don't mean to be a kill-joy - and Trick or Murder? is certainly full of fun.
I also surprised myself by including an altogether different kind of tradition that wasn't in my original outline for the story: All Souls' Day. It turns out to be a pivotal moment in the plot, falling in between Halloween and Guy Fawkes Night, with important revelations for Sophie on more than one level.
No plot spoilers here, whether or not of the gunpowder kind.
Whatever you plan to celebrate at this time of year, I wish you a happy and peaceful autumn, full of mists and mellow fruitfulness.
|Christmas is coming... (Out 6 November)|
Which should Sophie choose for her first foray into playwriting: traditional pantomime or nativity play?
She's hoping it won't end up as a farce, especially as she's working with children and animals, not to mention the surprise appearance of some ghosts of the Christmas past who certainly weren't in her script...
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