Childhood remembered: Halloween vs Bonfire Night

29 October 2017

The nights are drawing in, the air has a crispness to it and supermarket entrance halls are piled high with pumpkins, ghoulish costumes and black and orange multipacks of sweets as the town readies itself for October 31st and the hoards of children who will bang on our doors, threatening to deliver ‘tricks’ if they aren’t first given ‘treats’.

The current tradition for marking Halloween in this way is widespread across the UK, and yet was only introduced as we know it today within living memory.  For those of us brought up in the 1960s and 70s, Halloween was a very low key affair and Trick or Treating something we knew of purely from American cartoons and sitcoms such as Bewitched.

It seems that Halloween has now become a more important event in the UK than the traditionally celebrated November 5th – Bonfire Night – which marks the foiling of the Gunpowder Plot, the attempt to murder King James the First as he opened Parliament on that date in the year 1605.

But it wasn’t always the case, and many of us have fond memories – evoked (for me at least!) by the smell of autumn in the air or a particular quality of the evening light at this time of year – of the excitement and community spirit of the bonfire nights of our childhood.

You can read the memories of bonfire night in the 1970s by former Loughborough resident Mik Sutton here.

Go further back in time and read memories of an even earlier Leicestershire November here or about Halloween’s early English origins here.

What were Halloween and Bonfire Night like when you were a child?

Alison Mott