Random Musings: Halloween and hibernation


Have I mentioned that I love Halloween? Its traditions appeal so much more than the trappings of a modern Christmas. For one thing it falls in autumn, that season of mists and mellow fruitfulness, when the trees turn their leaves into flaming displays before consigning them to the ground to be crunched underfoot on crisp, early morning walks. Fires may be lit and blankets wrapped around shoulders as sofas are snuggled into. Curtains are drawn early giving rooms a cosiness forgotten over summer.

Halloween does not demand that gifts be exchanged with all the pressure this brings. Friends may choose to get together but it is acceptable to eschew the social whirl. There is no requirement for an expensive, time consuming meal.

Have you guessed that I am not a party animal? I choose carefully the events I will attend and who I will spend time with. Whatever the occasion I wear clothes that are comfortable on my socially derided bulk. Christmas exacerbates my anxieties with its demands and excesses. It is glitter and false promises of joy to the world.

Had I been born back in the day, I ponder if I may have been considered a witch.

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Witches were often women who would not follow the crowd. Perhaps they refused to marry, choosing to live alone rather than be dominated by a man. Perhaps they dressed differently and would not do as they were told. Some accused of being witches had simply drawn the anger of peers who believed in a hierarchy of sycophancy and aspiration. Witches lived apart and appeared content with that. Their autonomy angered many; in the time honoured tradition, conformists sowed fear of the ‘other’ – and witch hunts ensued. Maverick tendencies are anathema to those whose comfortable lives rely on social discipline.

The festive season, with its myriad of expectation, joviality and consumerism fills me with dread. Each year I dream of locking my doors and hibernating with just my family for company. At Halloween I am permitted to do this if I choose – me, my family and my books.


Recommended reading for Halloween

Hex by Thomas Olde Heuvelt (translated by Nancy Forest-Flier)

A Love Like Blood by Marcus Sedgwick

The Loney by Andrew Michael Hurley

The Blackheath Séance Parlour by Alan Williams

Foxlowe by Eleanor Wasserberg

Pavement by Richard Butchins

The Weight of Blood by Laura McHugh

The Many by Wyl Menmuir

The Children’s Home by Charles Lambert

The Black Country by Kerry Hadley-Pryce

I shall be curling up with ‘Dark Matter’ by Michelle Paver. The cover promises me a ghost story…




3 comments on “Random Musings: Halloween and hibernation

  1. Great post, made me think of Halloween in a different light. Sadly it too has now been commercialised with the introduction of Trick or Treat – never existed in my younger days. Our excitement was carving a turnip to put a candle in (we’d never heard of pumpkins outside of fairy stories!). When I write things like this I realise I’m getting older and turning into my mother (who bizarrely -to me -has a collection of rather hideous witches displayed around her house).☺

    • Jackie Law says:

      It has been commercialised but still feels fun to me. Carved turnip lanterns, sparklers and bobbing for apples were the height of excitement when I was a child but my kids enjoyed Trick or Treat. Dressing up as Death or a zombie, or Harry Potter style witches and wizards appealed to them more than the prettifying and performance that most events required. Our village felt friendly with bands of youngsters roaming the dark streets from which they were generally discouraged due to imagined parental fears. While my children were out I would willingly distribute sweets to those who called. Now that they are older – two live away from home – I make use of the posters produced by our local police force requesting that we not be disturbed. Thankfully these are respected so I can hibernate. I don’t feel judged for not wanting to engage as I do at Christmas.

      • We don’t have children, so I suspect that’s why Trick or Treat, feels a bit alien to me (and the fact I’m a grumpy so & so at times )☺Essentially I don’t like ‘society’ telling me when and how to celebrate. I go into complete hibernation mode on New Year’s Eve. Enjoy your Halloween, hope you’ve got your book pile ready x

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