This week’s Remember the Time Blog Hop has the theme: Halloween
Growing up in Belfast during The Troubles I did not get to experience fireworks; the sale of these explosive devices was banned throughout Northern Ireland. When we heard the bang of an explosion it was most likely to be a bomb going off, an all too frequent occurrence in the city throughout the 1970s.
Across the water in England there was much talk of bonfire night (5th November) when effigies of Guy Fawkes would be burned and fireworks would be lit in people’s gardens or at organised displays. We did not celebrate this event, preferring the traditions of Halloween.
My mother would dig the inside out of a large turnip (the English call this vegetable a swede) to make a Jack-o’-lantern. The great effort required to do this was lost on me at the time, but I did appreciate the scary face she would carve and the glow when the candle was placed inside and lit. It smelled awful.
I do not remember dressing up and we did not go trick or treating. Our low key parties involved games such as ducking for apples in a basin of water and munching on toffee covered apples that my mother made for us. We would light sparklers in our back yard and swirl these sticks of light around, making momentary trails of miniature stars in the cold dark. I found these thrilling.
Our most memorable Halloween party though was one year when my cousins came over to join us for the evening. They had discovered a new entertainment and brought it over to try: indoor fireworks!
My parents must have been redecorating our front room as it had no carpet. We four children were sitting on bare floorboards while the adults enjoyed drinks in the back room next door. I guess we knew that this new, exciting amusement would be frowned upon because we did not seek permission to proceed. Instead, we read the instructions carefully and gathered together the implements required: matches and a plate. Unfortunately we selected one of my mother’s best plates, set out ready for the adult’s supper later.
My younger cousin had possession of the pack of fireworks so was the one to prepare the first device and light the fuse. We watched with bated breath, expecting a colourful explosion of light that would fill the room. It was exciting and scary, probably because we could not truly believe that a firework indoors could be safe.
As the lit fuse reached it’s base there was a slight pop and then a mighty crack as the plate holding the non firing firework was sundered. At that moment, perhaps realising (as a parent will) that we children were up to some mischief, my mother walked into the room. We got the explosion we had been waiting for, but not from the anticipated source.
My mother’s plate could not be replaced. She could not comprehend why we had not used an old, cheap item of crockery or, better yet, gone outside (but they were indoor fireworks mummy!). Young kids playing with lit matches on a wooden floor horrified her. I am not sure if there was a crime that we had not committed that night.
The remaining fireworks were removed and we were sent to find less damaging entertainments. Chastened and tearful we each blamed the other for causing such upset. I think we were as put out about the lack of display from the one device we had managed to light; all that trouble caused and not even a show to mollify us.
Halloween has now changed beyond recognition as the American traditions have crossed the water. Candy, costumes and pumpkins have all been adopted with barely an apple in sight. The thrill and fear of what the night may hold has been replaced with a jolly celebration as the ghosts and ghouls become figures of fun to be mocked and played with. If the souls of the dead are still at large, they stay away.
To read the other posts in this week’s Blog Hop, click on the link below.