This time of year is a strange time of year. You know the end of the year is signalled as soon as the X Factor appears on ITV. It runs for the entire four months before Christmas. It starts just before children’s school terms start, and finishes just after they’ve broken up for Christmas. Its appearance coincides with Christmas decorations appearing in High Street shops, which appear before the Halloween stuff gets displayed, despite Halloween arriving well before Christmas.
The X Factor’s final 12 weeks are ‘live’ shows. The previous weeks are the pre-recorded auditions, designed to provide the cruel and nasty in our society with pathetic humans to laugh at and about in a kind of remote ritual bullying.
Once the live shows are underway, Halloween begins. Now, many years ago Halloween was just one evening a year. Indeed, in the UK, Halloween wasn’t celebrated until the late 70s. There was a crossover time when poor old folk were terrified by the knocks on their front doors and the yells of ‘Trick or treat’. They had no idea what it meant.
As soon as Halloween had crossed the Atlantic Ocean and was firmly established here, it started to grow. Now it lasts about 10 days. It isn’t confined to the 31st October night, but in various forms we get, well, ‘Halloweek’, with a non-stop celebration of the macabre, and dressing up as ghouls and chainsaw accidents.
This kinda merges into children mugging passers by with ‘Penny for the Guy’ routines, using the ghastly apparel that comes with Halloween, now fashioned into a dummy human that will be thrown onto a bonfire. Of course, they expect more than a ‘penny’. A Pound coin is more appropriate, especially if you don’t want to actually get mugged.
After the actual Halloween night, the next on the agenda is the British celebration of ‘Guy Fawkes Night’, or ‘Bonfire Night’ which means a load of noisy fireworks get set off whilst a bonfire is burned. This is when the dummy is thrown on the fire like a witch being burned under the orders of Christians. It’s to celebrate the day a plot to blow up Parliament was discovered and stopped.
Or maybe it’s to celebrate the wishful thinking behind the ‘plot’.
Fireworks have bled into the month before and month after as to when they are set off. Kids get hold of fireworks, especially the ‘bangers’ type and set them off at any random time, night, or day. They are at their loudest on 5th November, ‘Guy Fawkes Night’, second is the Saturday and Sunday nights near 5th November, and the rest of the time the explosions just rumble on and on until the kids have run out of them and it’s off-season so they can’t restock.
It’s compulsory after this to wear poppies on TV and everywhere in public. This ‘poppy week’ is now about three weeks, and culminates with the two minutes silence on 11th November and also the Sunday before. Once upon a time it was just the Sunday.
After this more serious commemoration has gone, it’s downhill all the way. Christmas decorations go up and Christmas shopping and Christmas drinking and partying starts with a fever. There are 5 weeks left of the X Factor telling the public which rehashed old song to buy and make the Christmas Number 1, and suddenly the day of focus arrives.
Ah yes, Christmas Day, the day when people who hate each other all get drunk together. The tension and fear before Christmas Day sends sufferers into a meltdown that is second only to the meltdown associated with a wedding.
Then it’s all over. The blurred into one season of Halloween, Guy Fawkes, Armistice, and Christmas, all soundtracked by the drama of the X Factor, has come to a final blessed climax.
So, only 65 or so days left. How are you coping?