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American Halloween VS. British Halloween: A Thorough British Breakdown

By Petr Knava | Miscellaneous | September 28, 2016 |

By Petr Knava | Miscellaneous | September 28, 2016 |

Because I was raised and live in England, the following sentence is a very strange thing to look at:

For a limited time this year, Starbucks is going to be offering a ‘Halloween Frappuccino’.

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‘Why the hell does Halloween need its own coffee?!’, my little Anglo-brain bemusedly mutters, as I walk around a house entirely unadorned — inside and out — with spooky paraphernalia, which sits on a street lined with houses equally bare, that joins with other streets and boroughs and towns and counties, the vast majority of which will experience Halloween as they always have for as long as I can remember: not at all.

But then it hit me: Starbucks is American, and in that gigantic, sprawling land of yours across the pond, Halloween is a big deal.

Just by way comparison, here is a picture I took of my street this morning:

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And here is how that same street is going to look come Saturday:

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But you guys? You guys…
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Our reaction to all this:
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Here, the most I’ve seen by way of house decorations is a pumpkin sitting in someone’s front garden which admittedly looked quite horror-like — though that’s probably because the owners have kept it since the year before; and maybe some cobwebs in the windows (probably due to poor dusting technique on the part of the occupants).

I have never in my life gone trick-or-treating; mostly because when being taught the whole, ‘don’t take sweets from strangers,’ rule as a child, I never heard it qualified with, ‘except when it’s Autumn and dark’.

But then there’s you guys:
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What is this? What the hell am I meant to do if that shows up at my door? It’s Saturday, gimme a break, I’m probably hungover; you should be giving me something. Do you have any paracetamol in that cauldron, Dracula? How about you, Giant Ladybird, any aspirin in that plastic pumpkin? Hulk, come on, man, you of all people have got to have some painkillers on you, right? No? Well, don’t look at me - I don’t keep sweets in the house. What do I have? Let’s see, I can offer you a choice of: coffee, a can of tuna, or a cigarette. No wait, scratch that last thing, I’ve only got one left.

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And it’s not just your kids who dress up! Every age group seems to fall under some sort of mass hypnosis, convinced that they must fulfill their destiny of looking like a classic monster, a movie or TV character popular this year, or…well, this:


I do admit that I’ve noticed this costume thing picking up a bit of steam here now too, with clubs hosting Halloween parties encouraging people to dress up, and people actually going along with it. Hell, even I did this once. Luckily we seem to be quite bad at it as a nation: the night I dressed up, my costume of, ‘Hawaiian shirt + otherwise normal clothes = Hunter S. Thompson,’ seemed to fall not that far below the average level of effort witnessed. Meanwhile the costumes you guys wear look like they are all on loan from Tony Stark’s private collection. And some of them are homemade! And they still look amazing! Is, ‘Halloween costumes,’ part of your yearly household budget?

I’m not even going to start on the Pumpkin Flavoured Everything. Because if I did I would never finish.

I guess the best way I’ve found to describe it to myself is: for you guys, Halloween is like the starting gun in your sprint to Christmas, whereas for us it’s a time when we start moaning about how a few shops have already started to sell Christmas-themed shit.

That, and enjoying things like this, I guess:

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Vive la difference!

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Petr is a staff contributor. You can follow him on Twitter.