Hallowe'en - October 31st

Halloween or Hallowe'en is a contraction of its original title "All Hallows' Even", also known as All Hallows' Eve, and is a holiday observed around the world, the eve before the Western Christian feast of All Hallows.


For an event that oc
curs just one evening a year, it hardly warrants its own tab, but like Christmas, its precisely because it does only happen every 12 months, that it is cause for celebration in my book!

I
was lucky enough to experience this festival in the country that recognises it the most, as I lived in California in the mid 1970s where I spent two glorious years as a boy, so this period on the calendar brings back happy memories for me. Aged 7 and 8, I used to go 'trick-or-treating' come dusk with two school friends and we'd roam the streets on our own for miles till we were almost lost, collecting candy in a sack which we would take home and unload, then head out again in the opposite direction. I remember we even went to the firehouse and looked over the trucks with the firemen who gave us McDonald's vouchers. Devoid of our parents, they were employed spooking other calling kids back home in their own inimitable way ("we gotta go visit those English guys again!" was heard spoken by costumed kids in the neighbourhood the following year!), and everyone joined in and welcomed the children, rather than the disjointed affair we have ended up with here, with some people putting signs in their windows telling kids to go away! That they are unable to drag themselves from the TV set and participate, open their door to little children for just one night of the year to say hello, ask what they are dressed up as, acknowledge their excitement and give something for nothing in return but a smile and a 'thankyou', marks them down as sad losers in life in my opinion. I still love that for one night a year you break the rules about talking to strangers and taking sweets from them in the dark, and that honest folk can show that evil does not lurk around every corner and trust in each other makes a brief return. Ironic that it should be so on Halloween night. I don't think though that back in the 1970's so many precautions applied as they do now, as times have changed, and some children have too. I came back to the UK in 1978 and did not realise that Halloween was then predominantly a party for adults, as when I tried going trick or treating, I was either ignored when I rang the bell, told to get lost if they did answer, or given money, fruit or biscuits which itself was weird as they were 'cookies'. I was the only child in the entire village out doing this, so I guess I was ahead of my time, but it ended prematurely a childhood favourite of mine and was a view into English society and grumpy people that probably added to me becoming the slightly spikey rebel, irritated with many aspects of England and wishing I was back with my friends in California. I've never been invited to what I would call a real Halloween party, so to get my own back on the dullards that don't understand it, I will now stage my own peculiar brand. If I was in advertising, they would be labelled, 'New Improved Halloween! ... with added sex!'




I have taken to growing my own pumpkins now which takes 7 months of the year, from germinating the seeds in March to harvesting them in October. There's a lot of effort in between, but large ones are expensive to buy so you're paying for my time to raise those to maturity. If they fail, around here, large ones have cost me £25/£30/£40 depending upon the summer, but last year (2011) I saw one selling for £60 at my local supplier as it was not grown outside and would have taken 3 men to lift it!! The Halloween parties will therefore be more expensive, but you're paying for an awful lot more work in terms of preparation and decorations, plus I have to carve and keep the pumpkins on hold for the night. There is a lot of planning involved to make it what it is and about 3 weeks work to decorate, so expect tickets to be around £100 per person.


I
intend to buy some new props such as a 'Low Ground Fogger' to create 'Ye Olde London Towne Fogge' at ankle height lol, and I've seen a cobweb making machine that they use on feature film sets that I will try and buy too. I hate mediocre, ordinary and average, and whilst it won't be a full on 'haunted house', it could end up that way over the years lol! I'm also having various creepy prints framed for the walls for this (they look great under a blacklight), which work out pretty expensive for just one night of the year, and all the music is painstakingly put together as well, as you'll see from the list below.

The theme is of course orange and black
. You're welcome to dress up, and I will try to persuade the girl too.

I miss the torchlit dungeon at the Gothic castle, it was truly the perfect place for Halloween night, but I hope the new props and appropriate music will make up for it.

Iron Maiden. The title track from their 1982 #1 album, and arguably the best heavy metal album ever cut, 'The Number of the Beast'. Dedicated to the memory of Clive Burr, their late drummer who plays here and is much missed. Thank you Clive, you were the drummer who inspired me to first pick up the sticks and all us fans loved your style and charm and your drumming abilities that so suited Maiden's songs. No more M.S., no more pain, rest in peace. Thank you : )
(His signature white drum kit was donated to London's Hard Rock Cafe in London, 2005).



Halloween Music  - This is going to be the best selection of suitably spooky tracks that you'll ever hear at a Halloween party! Set lists will be put on the walls during the party, and perhaps here, when I complete it. Examples ...

'Zombie Stomp', 'Devil's Daughter', 'Bark At The Moon',
'Waiting For Darkness', 'Spiders' by Ozzy Osbourne.
'Dancing On Your Grave', 'Dead Men Tell No Tales', 'Ace Of Spades' by Motorhead.
'Haunted Heart' by Alias.
'Teenage Frankenstein',
'Welcome To My Nightmare' by Alice Cooper.
'Hell's Bells', 'Highway To Hell' by AC/DC.
'Burn', 'Demon's Eye' by Deep Purple.
'Devil's Child', 'Night Crawler' by Judas Priest.
'Witch Hunt', 'Roll The Bones', 'Ghost Of A Chance' by Rush.
'Shout At The Devil', 'Hell On High Heels' by Motley Crue.
'Dead Man's Road' by Cinderella.
'Witch's Promise', 'Beastie', 'Cold Wind to Valhalla'
by Jethro Tull.
'The Number Of The Beast', 'Fear Of The Dark', 'Children Of The Damned'
by Iron Maiden.
'Something Wicked This Way Comes' by The Enid.
'Killer On The Loose', 'Angel Of Death' by Thin Lizzy.
'Prince Of Darkness' by Megadeth.
'Ghost In Your Heart' by Bad English.
'Evil Eye', 'One Foot In The Grave', 'Scream'
by Dio.
'Heaven and Hell', 'Lady Evil', 'Black Sabbath' by Black Sabbath.
'Haunted Lullaby' by Dokken.
'House Of Pain', 'Runnin' With The Devil' by Van Halen.
... and many many more!!

And yes, that really is Ozzy himself on the front cover of this album, in make up, just as David Lee Roth would don all sorts of disguises in his videos!




Historical background:


Opinion is divided as to the exact origins of the festival. According to some scholars, All Hallows' Eve initially incorporated traditions from Pagan harvest festivals and festivals honouring the dead, particulaly the Celtic Samhain, whilst other academics feel the feast originated entirely independently of Samhain.

The Halloween holiday is commonly thought to have pagan roots, even though the etymology of the word is Christian. Exploring the origins of Halloween, some folklorists have detected its origins in the Roman feast of Pomona, the goddess of fruits and seeds, or in the festival of the dead called Parentalia. It is more typically linked to the Celtic festival of Samhain, derived from the Old Irish 'Samuin' meaning "summer's end". Samhain was the first and the most important of the four quarter days in the medieval Irish and Scottish calendar and, falling on the last day of autumn, it was a time for stock-taking and preparation for the cold winter months ahead. There was also a sense that this was the time of year when the physical and supernatural worlds were closest and magical things could happen. To ward off these spirits, the Gaels built huge symbolically regenerative bonfires and invoked the help of the gods through animal and perhaps even human sacrifice to prevent the Sluagh. In Irish and Scottish folklore, the Sluagh were the spirits of the restless dead, welcome in neither heaven or hell, rejected even by the Otherworld (this was the realm of the dead, in Celtic mythology, the home of the spirits) and by the earth itself. They are almost always depicted as troublesome and destructive, the souls of deceased sinners, and according to Irish legends, the hoarde of evil spirits were seen to fly in groups like flocks of birds (i.e. The 'Dementors' in Harry Potter and similarly the 'Ringwraiths'/'Nazgul' in 'The Lord of the Rings', have borrowed from this), coming from the west. Believed to enter the house of a dying person in an effort to carry the soul away with them, west-facing windows were kept closed to shut them out.

Today the typical festive Halloween activities include trick or treating, attending costume parties, carving Jack-o'-lanterns, lighting bonfires, apple bobbing, visiting haunted attractions, playing pranks and telling scary stories but parallel to this are the religious observances of praying for the dead, fasting, attending vigils or church services. For my own sake I prefer to see it as a celebration of life and death and to remember the deceased who were here before us, our ancestors and their struggles to survive, rather than any assault on the living.

Nota bene:
Unlike previous parties at the castle, there will now not be any human sacrifices 
or blood sucking vampires ; ) ... but a cum sucking vamp will be in attendance who will still drain you of your life force.

Jethro Tull - 'Beastie'. Taken from the album, 'The Broadsword and The Beast'. 1982. Lyrics by Ian Anderson.





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