Halloween is really fun when you have kids. You can dress them up like this,
You get to go trick or treating and make sure to help yourself to the parent tax that exists on all children's candy. It's a fun excuse to dress up yourself, although I am learning that here in England, people enjoy "Fancy Dress Parties," which I initially thought to mean that you dress in your fanciest ball gowns and tuxedos, but it actually means that you dress in a fun costume, sometimes following a theme. I told you, Brits know how to have a good time! But I digress, the true meaning of Halloween is candy, and maybe scaring the poop out of someone you love. As a parent there is work involved with the proper celebrating of Halloween,
1. You must find or make costumes.
2. Finding pumpkins, carving pumpkins, figuring out how to carve the strange faces that your children design (one of our pumpkin designers this year drew four different faces on his pumpkin but we told him that he had to pick his favourite for us to carve). Kids can't use a knife sharp enough to carve a pumpkin, so who is doing all this work again? I also usually toast pumpkin seeds which no one likes but me (and recently Mr. K- he is the coolest).
3. NEW ISSUE, dispose of the pumpkins! England is very strict, or at least my neighbourhood is, about recycling and garbage disposal. My tiny green food waste bin was FULL of pumpkin remains and I didn't even fit it all in.
4. Decorate your house. I usually do some orange lights (this year I found pumpkin ones), various sizes of pumpkins (carved or not), and then plastic decorations, spiderwebs, things that I keep in a bin and pull out for Halloween. Now, you can obviously do much more than this, or much less. I did have 2 pumpkins out by my door since Canadian Thanksgiving (early October), and EVERY British person that came to my house said, "WOW, you must really like Halloween!" So maybe people don't do that here. I also have a fall wreath up but don't see anyone else with one. Dear British Friends, is it strange to decorate your house seasonally in England? WHAT HAPPENS AT CHRISTMAS? These are serious questions that I have.
5. You have to buy a lot of delicious candy in deceptively small packages and try not to eat it all before the trick or treaters arrive. Nearly impossible.
6. Somehow coordinate handing out candy with trick or treating. This year, I was to hand out candy but our children had too many emotions, I blame daylight saving time. So we all went for a bit and left a bowl of candy on our front mat.
7. Try to control your children's candy consumption as they are exhausted and headed to bed soon. I did not accomplish this. My three year olds had a hard enough time not opening and eating every single candy the moment after they received it. Mr. K doesn't really care for most candy- I told you he was cool! Luckily, although our neighbourhood here in England was awesome for Halloween (HOORAY), we did get less candy. Most people gave one or two pieces. You should have seen the children's eyes when I threw a little handful of candy in their bags when they came trick or treating at my house! Such a shocking North American I am!
8. Brush everyone's teeth for one hour.
9. Clean up.
10. Go to bed.
11. Try to not eat all your children's candy.
I actually LOVE Halloween. It's fun and really quite magical. However, it's a lot of work as a parent. I don't truly mind and I will continue to do all the work and have all the fun. I didn't fully realize the work load until we celebrated Guy Fawkes Day a week later, did practically no work at all, and my kids had just as much fun as Halloween, maybe even more!
Guy Fawkes was a member of a group who tried and failed to assassinate King James I in 1605. His reward for this attempted treason was to be executed and quartered and held as an example, a warning, to all. England continues to celebrate this grisly anniversary with bonfires, effigy burning (I did not witness this, unfortunately), and more fireworks than you can imagine, unless you are reading this in the UK, then you know exactly what I am talking about!
Disclaimer; this is not a glamorous travel blog. We do what we can with the time we have, with the kids we have, with the energy we have. So, if you are looking for an impressive write-up on how to celebrate a holiday or visit a destination in style, you will need to look elsewhere or be disappointed. No glamour here, believe me. I clean up other people's bodily fluids on the daily, glamour left me years ago. That being said, you can buy tickets and attend super big fireworks at various beautiful locations all over England to celebrate Guy Fawkes Day. Some of them have large bonfires, some don't. You can eat very British bonfire night food, wood-roasted lamb with chicory salad, sausage rolls cooked on sticks over a bonfire, cinder toffee and dark-chocolate lollipops, baked figs and rhubarb with cream and mint, hot smoked Tunworth cheese on a camp fire. To be honest, I don't know what all those things are, but they sound amazing! A lot of people host their own Bonfire night parties and set off their own fireworks.
What we did- we bought tickets to Mr. K's school fireworks night, which is on Wednesday, so we still have that to look forward to. On Guy Fawkes Day/Bonfire Night, we bundled up the kids (it was a delightfully chilly and clear night). We walked around the block waiting for our neighbourhood fireworks to start and snooped on other people's bonfires and fireworks. I HAVE NEVER SEEN SO MANY FIREWORKS IN MY LIFE. It was like surround sound. Fireworks all around. Having come from living in Canada's capital city for the last five years, I thought I knew a thing or two about fireworks, but I think Ottawa was just a warm-up for Guy Fawkes night. Also, why can one buy really big fireworks here and set them off wherever one wants? On the radio (yes I listen to local radio because I am a senior citizen in my heart), ads for buying fireworks were followed with, "Always follow the firework code." I don't know what the code is, but it must be something like, "do whatever you want, have fun." It was terribly exciting to walk around in the dark, turn a corner and have fireworks shoot up directly overhead.
Then the main show, some lovely neighbourhood young gentlemen set up a considerable amount of fireworks in a field. The display lasted about 40 minutes. We were so close that I kept saying, "maybe we should move," but we never did even as fireworks would shoot overhead and in our general direction. Highlight for me, when some large fireworks went rogue, shooting onto the street and everyone was running for their lives. No one was hurt, and I was highly entertained.
The fireworks continued all night, as they do, but our little ones were getting tired and grouchy by this point, so we crossed the street and we were home! Mr. L helped Daddy to make some yummy hot chocolate and then the kids went to bed.
Amount of work I did for Guy Fawkes Day, none. So although it is perhaps a controversial view to have, I believe that for me, this year at least, Guy Fawkes Day was far superior to Halloween!
Autumn in the Cotswolds is my new favourite!