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…the fifth of November. Gunpowder, treason and plot!

I was thinking about Halloween’s origins, about dark druidic plots on young virgin’s lives, or medieval morality plays where people dressed as skeletons and the Grim Reaper to remind watchers of their own mortality, a call for them to get right with God. Remainders of these practices, like Toussaint in France or Mexico’s Day of the Dead, still keep the focus on one’s own personal dead; those fathers and grandfathers and friends who have already passed away.
But, I thought to myself, only in America could we take this holiday and turn it into just a candy-fest. Oh sure, people dress up like skeletons and Grim Reapers nowadays too, but it’s just so frothy. And I felt a little smug about my home culture. Only in America would more people care about Britney Spear’s lip-injections or clothes budget than the fact that General Musharraf has just declared martial law in Pakistan.
It’s not that I don’t like everything to be fun, but I like to think that other people are being serious, being the adults for me, while I fritter away my time reading the comics section instead of the Business news (bo-ring!). I weighed American culture in the scales of Halloween and I found us wanting.
But then I remembered that it’s November 5,  Guy Fawkes Day. Who else but the English could take a serious threat to national security and turn it into a day of bonfires, fireworks, and children going door-to-door collecting small change.
I guess we’re not so bad after all.
Go Britney Spears! And, penny for the guy?

November 2007

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