How Americanised Halloween has taken over from Guy Fawkes’ Night

It’s funny how you don’t see children asking for “a penny for the Guy” any more.

One time, they were everywhere; little ones with home-made Guys, dressed in the most bizarre clothing, trying to make a few bob to buy fireworks.

But nowadays they’ve disappeared, perhaps due to the fact that children are no longer safe to hang around street corners in the dark.

It may also have something to so with the surge in official bonfire/fireworks events which have more geared to entertainment (with music and laser/light shows) than commemorating the Gunpowder Plot.

Or perhaps it has more to do with the fact that Halloween is now celebrated like never before, becoming a major event on the social calendar.

In days gone by it was all about turnip lanterns and apple-bobbing games – now it’s one of the most commercial events of the year.

So I asked readers what they recalled about the “old fashioned” Halloween nights, before the “American invasion” of pumpkins and shop-bought masks and costumes.

Linda Chambers took to the Gazette’s Facebook site to tell of: “Scraping a turnip out, real candle inside. We tore a black plastic bag up and wore it, and if we were lucky, a plastic mask from Woolworths.”

Melanie Meston said: “My dad was a wood carver so my turnip had mint ones, and my mum was brill with the sewing machine. I loved Halloween so much.”

Samantha Kelly told how: “Yer knuckles had no skin on after scraping out the turnip! I can still smell singed turnip off the candle stub inside! Nee tea lights for us!”.

Marie Simpson remembered: “Bin bags, cardboard witches’ hats and a turnip on a string! Happy days.

“It’s all just a competition now to see whose child has got the best costume, who can decorate their house the best, who can throw the best party and whose child gets the most sweets etc.”

Rachel Lydon went on social media to say: “We used turnips and black bags, white plastic fangs. I love Halloween, I do pumpkins with the girls, they love it, we don’t make it scary at all – just fun.”

Sharon Oley remembers: “Scraping a turnip out and putting a real candle in it, as well as making our own costumes. Never went trick or treating then”, while Maria Wilkinson had a “black bag with neck/arm holes cut out and a dressing gown belt, and a witch’s hat made of painted newspapers, and a carved-out turnip with a proper candle in it.”

Michelle Wall also spoke of “Turnips, plastic bags and homemade witches’ hats. Good old 70s,” while Angela Nicoll also had a “turnip and a cheap plastic mask from the corner shop”.

Helen Banks mentions: “Turnip with a candle. Had an aunty and mam who were ace sewers and made home-made costumes. Happy days

Jimmy Campbell said: “We made our lanterns out of turnips”, as did Kath Morrison, Julez Rutter and Jean Dickinson, while Kathleen McConvill talks of “a naggie and dooky apple in the house. Pumpkins and scaring outfits or trick or treat didn’t exist.”

Peter Watt adds: “Don’t mind the scary costumes, but pumpkins are just so American!”