Saturday, November 04, 2006

Off with a bang

The family has just been to the fireworks display on the village green: a huge bonfire, the smell of wood smoke, burgers, candy floss, and lots of fireworks.

It struck me how uncommercialised the whole event was - the whole tradition.

Halloween in my part of Britain used to be a minor adjunct a few days before Guy Fawkes night: I went to the occasional Halloween-themed party, but it was never the focus.

Compare it to recent years: in the supermarket on Tuesday were racks of horror-themed costumes, orange trick-or-treat buckets, pumpkin cake moulds, ghost ice cube trays etc. Next to the sausages - bonfire-night food - was no mention of any associated event. There were toffee apples on sticks - another food which goes with fireworks - again no mention of an associated event.

On Thursday, the staff were removing the Halloween themed products and replacing them with Christmas crackers etc. But still no mention of fireworks.

It annoyed me: a traditional English event glossed over by English retailers. Instead they were focusing on imported traditions, simply because they could make lots of money on products that would either be eaten or sent to landfill in a few days.

However standing on the Green, watching the fireworks go off, listening to the bangs, I was glad the retailers were ignoring it.

There was nothing there because some marketing department had decided it would be good for their profits. Admittedly there were things to spend money on, but not a lot. Burgers or hotdogs - simple fare to eat outside on a cold night. Glow sticks, for the children to play with: some people had brought sparklers. A couple of fun-fair rides, bright in the darkness. Popcorn, freshly made, and candy floss, the only food available that could never be made healthy.

Everything was there because people would enjoy them, nothing was being pushed on us. Enjoyable it all was.

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