Saturday, 5 November 2011

Halloween, Christmas and the death of ordinary time

Last week, I noticed my local pub was advertising 'Halloween weekend'. Basically, three days of 'celebrating'. When I was young, Halloween was just one hour in the evening and a bowl of apples.

That's until the Christians decided Halloween was a Bad Thing and then it became nothing. But nothing is, in fact, what Halloween means for most of us. Not something we celebrate. Not really part of our culture.

No children knocked on our door on Monday night. I heard adults complaining they had to eat sweets on Tuesday because of a lack of trick-or-treaters. This 'tradition' is, in real life, not something that everyone does, whatever the sellers of confectionery and fancy dress would like us to believe. That's just another lie to make us buy stuff.

Today, our local branch of Gregg's had 'trick or treat' gingerbread in a pile by the door, and Christmas cake in the window. Can't they just let us have a short break between shopping opportunities?

In the church, they have something called Ordinary Time. Those seasons when it's not Christmas, not Easter, not a special occasion of any sort. It's a good notion. It's restful.

For the retail world, though, life is never ordinary. And you can never rest.

I wish they would leave us alone. I've lived half my life already, and it's gone faster than I'd have liked. I don't want to be rushed from one date to another. I want time to think. I want time to wait. I want ordinary time.

Meanwhile, in the pub, there's a table in the doorway with a bowl full of Christmas crackers and a reminder to book your party. It's been there since September.

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