I was never particularly bothered by Halloween growing up. Our family didn’t celebrate it and as I grew older, it felt like a particularly commercialised ‘festival’ with a bit of nastiness (in the form of the trick option of trick and treating) thrown in. I could definitely take it or leave it. But for the last two years, I have been pleasantly surprised by having an excellent time on Halloween and both times, they were at the Passage House Inn. Incorporating fancy dress, good music and fundraising into the night, they seem to have got it down to a fine art! Last year, was particularly spectacular with their three day extravaganza including a sponsored head shave, raffle, live music and marquee full of activities for children including pumpkin carving and face painting. It was also incredibly successful in that they raised over £3000 for the very worthy cause of Children’s Hospice South West.
I was gifted a lovely book (Festivals, Family and Food) by a friend and was interested to learn that Halloween corresponds to May Day (or Beltane) which marks the beginning of summer’s warmth and vegetation as it recognises November 1st (Samhain) as ‘the first day of Winter’s cold and barrenness’. Obviously, there was a lot more to it than just an observation of changing seasons as they also remembered the dead and anticipated ghosts, ‘general mischief, witchcraft, magic and hobgoblins of every sort’. Personally, I shy away from the connotations of spirits, magic and otherworldly activities but I can very much get on board with consciously marking the change in seasons.
Ever since living on a boat for 3 years, I find myself particularly aware of what is going on in nature around me and continue to somehow try and mould our lifestyle so it fits the seasons. I think it’s easy in this day and age to keep the same routine week in, week out, all year round but I think our ancestors had it right. Spending more time outside when we have lighter evenings is undoubtedly good for our bodies and souls and means that when the darker, barren months creep in, we can spend more time indoors, catching up on the activities that might have been neglected during the previous outdoor based season. Being fluid and not fighting the limits or opportunities that the season offers seems like a very sensible approach to me!
Over the last few years, I’ve started to find myself relaxing when it comes to Halloween. I think even if you don’t like the darker side of it, there is still a way in which everyone can engage with it. So this year, I’ll be heading down to the Passage again as they continue in their tradition of fundraising for Halloween. This year they will be offering pumpkin carving for the children in the afternoon, live music from Exeter based Dirty Money in the evening, a raffle for Children’s Hospice South West throughout the day and as always, a bit of fancy dress. This year Halloween falls on both a Saturday and the Rugby World Cup final which they’ll be showing inside for all the Rugby fans so there’s no excuse not to bring the whole family down for a brilliant day out. I’ll see you there!