Tuesday, October 30, 2001
Here we go. Something wise for you to read that I didn't write. (You may have to log in to the New York Times site to read it.)

On the other hand, driving to Madison I did pass a church with a huge sign outside proclaiming that it would, on Sunday, expose the true satanically evil nature of Hallowe'en to the faithful and the curious...

It made me think of something which may be urban legend (ie I read it in a newspaper, but then, I've worked for newspapers so do not automatically assume they describe the world as it is) -- that in the UK, starting about 15 years ago, the Thatcher government began actively to encourage Hallowe'en celebration, in order to distract people from private Guy Fawkes celebrations.

Guy Fawkes is the November 5th fireworks celebration. Folklorists, and the occasional sociologist, long ago noted that the parts of England that celebrated Hallowe'en didn't get into celebrating Guy Fawkes, and vice versa. (There's a fascinating map to that effect in one of Iona and Peter Opie's books on children's Lore and Language.) It had long been a wish of governments and health authorities to stop the back-garden bonfires and fireworks of Guy Fawkes Day -- given the number of people, children and adults, who would find themselves waking up in their local burns unit on November the 6th. Making fireworks illegal was not an option. Redirecting people's attention most definitely was. Thus, active governmental support for American-style Hallowe'en.

Not sure if it's true or not, although it feels true.

I do know that, as of 1996, I couldn't find anywhere that made the cardboard Guy Fawkes masks (like the one V wears, in Alan Moore and David Lloyd's lovely V For Vendetta). And the props department of the BBC, who said "We can find anything" when I asked them about it, were forced to admit puzzled defeat when they went looking for one for me.