I don't do Hallowe'en as it's done these days. In my childhood as a Church of England chorister, that time of year was about the Harvest Festivals, then All Souls' Day, or All Hallows' Eve, followed by All Saints' Day at the end of October. Pagan festivals incorporated into the modern church calendar. And as it was close to Guy Fawkes Night on November 5th, we had bonfires, fireworks, toffee apples and some dressing up all together on the closest Saturday night. And it always, always rained on Bonfire Night.
A few kids - usually the "naughty ones" - dressed up in old sheets and went round knocking on the doors of the houses in their street asking "trick or treat?" If the householder said "treat", the kids got penny sweets or an apple, and if they said "trick", the most they got was an egg thrown at their front door. My friends and I were never allowed to do this, and I can't remember getting many people knocking on our door.
As the years have gone by the season's commercialism has snowballed in the same way it has for Christmas. Fireworks are now seen for weeks before-hand, the shops are full of costumes as soon as the kids go back to school in September, and it's become another reason to keep Hallmark in business.
But the thing that got me the most was when I was back in the UK on a visit last Hallowe'en, and on the Saturday afternoon I happened to be in the little market town where I grew up. I went into the new Starbucks for a hot chocolate, and was served by a young witch with green hair and a beaming smile - and blue teeth - and offered sweets from a barrel by the door. When I came out at about 4 o'clock, the busy high street had turned itself into a school playground in costume.
I had never seen anything like it; hundreds upon hundreds of supervised tinies all carrying buckets, wands, hatchets. There were the expected witches with baby sister as their cutest black cat, fairies, pixies, ghosts, zombies and vampires (lots of those - the first Twilight film was due out). I saw some little round pumpkins that made me wonder whether their waddling gait was caused by their costumes or their nappies. And lots of far more obscure little court jesters, cheeses, bears and Star Wars characters which confused me a bit. Maybe their mums left it a bit late at the costume-hire shops.
They were all having a fantastic time, like an enormous street party. I guessed that they dispersed into the nearby businesses and houses, and suddenly the reason for the barrel of sweets became clear. I watched it all with the amused smile of the foreigner who is witnessing some quaint local custom for the first time. In my home town, after 3 years away, I absolutely felt like a foreigner.
When this October's ScrapJazz card challenge was to make an autumn or Hallowe'en themed card, I could only chose the autumn one. Not having anyone to send a "Boo!" card to. And the Whiff of Joy challenge was to use this sketch:
I really meant to mat everything, honest. But it just looked better with the edges heavily inked instead. And lots of ink colours all blotted together with parts of a stamp around the image. She's "Willow with hot chocolate", stamped with Versafine and coloured with Copics. The flowers are punched with EK Success punches, and there's a liberal sprinkling of my favourite Diamond Stickles. The papers are Basic Grey from the Scarlett's Letter and Lemonade collections. I'll enclose a coffee shop gift voucher when I send it.