Today I am 55 years old. I am a Halloween baby. I envy the kids in US and Canada, they celebrate my birthday in such a big way. In the UK it was never seen as a day to celebrate, so I never dressed up or went trick or treating.
We did have a carnival for Guy Fawkes. He was a man who wanted to blow up the Houses of Parliament in the UK. I was never sure why we celebrated him, but as it was a joyous time for me and my brother,(his birthday is 4th Nov and Fireworks night was 5th), I never complained. We had hot potatoes and candied apples. It was always frosty, and dad would visit his friends for a pint of ale on the way home. We would get to sit outside the club and eat our treats. There was no fear or worry of gangs or trouble, just pure enjoyment. Memories I hang onto.
During my research for The Man in Room Eighteen, based in mid-1800's, I learned the tradition of that carnival, and it had nothing to do with the blowing up of politicians. It was a way of the young navy apprentices to earn money for charity and their Christmas treats. They re-created the ships they built in miniature form, and paraded them around town. The folk who joined in the parade threw coins and it became a large part of Harwich Town, UK Essex celebrations.
This weekend my baby granddaughter will follow the footsteps of me, my husband and her parents. She will witness the bigheads and bright lights. I do hope it is a tradition that will never die and she gets to take her children in the future.