As October comes around once again, it’s not long to the autumn double dazzler of Halloween and Bonfire Night, those twin peaks of pleasure that brighten the dreary dark months for children and parents and party lovers in general. Halloween (31st October) and Bonfire Night (5th November) land on successive weekends at the beginning and end of half term, making this an ideal occasion for retailers to stock up their shelves with exciting seasonal merchandise.
If you thought it was named after a Hollywood movie, Hallowe’en actually takes its name from “All Hallows Eve,” the eve of the Western Christian feast of All Hallows’ Day, which falls on October 31st, and is revered by Christian believers as a time to honour the dead, including saints, or “hallows.”
But for most people Halloween is about the fun side of spookiness, with pumpkin lanterns, ghoulish face paint and candles, and kids and their parents dressing up in witches’ costumes and going out to scare their friends and neighbours for a laugh. Halloween as it is now took off here in the 1980s and 1990s, as an American cultural import, and has grown bigger and bigger over the decades. Each generation of school kids expects more from Halloween than the previous one, and in response the confectionery manufacturers and others come out each year with a selection of ghoulish goodies to mark the occasion. It’s not just school kids – everyone can dress up and party on down for Halloween.
Like Halloween, Bonfire Night has historical roots that are largely overlooked these days in favour of fun, in this case fireworks, bonfires and barbecues. The story is that around midnight on 4 November 1605 Guy Fawkes, a Catholic agitator, was found in the House of Lords with enough gunpowder to demolish the building. The ‘Gunpowder Plot’ was commemorated for years afterwards with the ringing of church bells and other public events, which later evolved into today’s Bonfire Night.
There’s more to this time of year than Halloween-branded confectionery and other ‘scary’ grocery stock lines. Treacle toffee has been enjoyed traditionally at Bonfire night and Halloween for many years, and continues to do well where it is on offer. Walkers Nonsuch’s treacle toffee is particularly popular in the winter months and an ideal addition to your Bonfire and Halloween offering. Remember, remember, the 5th of November…