So this brings me on to Halloween.
The British, at large, celebrate this event in a more restrained tone compared the the US. Which makes me scratch my head curiously because the tradition dates back to Celtic times in Ireland (a short swim from UK shores) where Pagans would treat this night as sacrificial in preparation for their winter harvest, using what livestock they had. It was also the night they would dress with masks and costumes to mimic the dead and ward off evil plus they class 31st October as the end of the Pagan year - to them it was party night! . So when the Irish settlers found homes on US shores, they brought these tales with them and continued the celebration to what it is known and loved for today. I have to admit that Halloween is celebrated with more vigour in the US than over here in the UK.
There are a lot of homes in the UK that do not entertain children who come trick or treating. For us its a more modern celebration that the older generation have not grown accustomed to but certainly it has become more popular in the last 20 years with the latter generations because of the hype that the US bestow on the event. The general rule of thumb on Halloween over here is that if the lights are on, you may trick or treat at that house. Its funny to watch my neighbours clamber home from wherever, draw the curtains and lay low for a few hours when they don't want little ghosties and ghoulies come a-knocking! Of course the UK kids love it and do it anyway (where they can) and Id say 60% of the houses on our housing estate do play along and its just the best night for dressing up, making pumpkin faces, play bobbing apples and stuffing your face with sweeties (candy) and chocolate. My daughter selects the best houses for treat giving (based on previous years haunts) and manages about 10 or 12 houses then comes home to splurge. We of course decorate the porch and hand out sweeties to any welcomed guest but as our house is hidden round a little nook on a street of old age pensioners, we don't get that many visitors - so we get to hoard the stash for ourselves too!
I wrote to Janine, one of our new SC DT who lives in Germany and asked if they celebrated it and her is what she had to say (thanks Janine!)
"Originally there's no Halloween here in Germany. We do have Fasching also called "carnival" in February/March where we dress up. Although the children walk with their self-made lanterns in November where they collect sweets, which can be most likely compared with 'trick or treat'. Halloween swapped over from the US some years ago, but it's no tradition here, and no trick or treat. Some kids do it though, but most kids collect sweets when they walk with their lanterns in honor of St. Martin in November ( you can find more information under 'Folklore' there). In Germany, Halloween is an additional reason to party, hehe."