Why is it that Halloween has become so popular in this land of the politely awkward Brits? It is plain to see as October approaches that Halloween is on Britain’s mind. Supermarket aisles are to be heavily avoided if you want to enjoy your lunch, shop windows are competing for the tackiest graveyard scene, and threateningly luminous orange sweets dust the shelves.
Despite what it seems from these displays, it definitely isn’t just children that this summer-ending celebration captivates. It is adults that really relish in the celebrations, and have now converted this once rather low-key celebration into an essential annual event. So why is the Halloween weekend one of the most popular in the clubbing calendar?
The commercial Halloween that we know today may have its roots in America, but many of the traditions that underpin the holiday in folklore are British in origin, so it has always been in our roots. Here’s a little history for you — if for nothing else than costume inspiration. Halloween has a sordid and complex past, with a hundred histories blended together to form the festival that we know today.
The Gaelic festival Samhain marks the end of the Summer Harvest, when the days become shorter and the dark nights longer. Samhain whispers of Pagan origins, conjuring images of Druids and sacrifice. There is a evidence to suggest that Pagans considered this time extremely sacred — so much so, that they aligned their tombs with the sunrise at this time.
Cattle were slaughtered and fire ceremonies were carried out for protection. Samhain was seen as a time where the boundaries between our world and another could be more easily crossed; in Irish folklore this meant fairies and spirits, and in Christianity this meant demons and angels. The Souls of the dead were thought to rise up and revisit their homes, asking hospitality of their neighbours or loved ones, which is perhaps how ‘Trick or Treating’ was born. Gaelic people dressed in costumes to disguise themselves from the ‘Aos Si’, or spirits, which is perhaps the ancient origin of the sexy cat costumes we know today.
Wicca (modern day Pagans) also view Halloween as a religious holiday. The Western Christian church has also an had an influence on Halloween today, with ‘All Saints Day’ or ‘All Hallows day’ (where Christians pay remembrance to Saints), converted to ‘All Souls day’ (where Christians remember their relatives). This has merged with the influences of our Celtic, Gaelic and Pagan pasts to form Halloween as we know it today.
But we are surely not celebrating the end of the summer sun, or visiting the graves of our deceased relatives. Forgetting its rich and diverse past, Halloween is now a more commercial and secular celebration. Perhaps its popularity is because it isn’t seen to be as sacred as New Year’s Eve, or as family-orientated as Christmas? Is it just a good excuse to wear whatever you wish? Whether that be a sexy witch, Donald Trump or even a glamorous toilet roll (I’ve seen several), does the dressing up give Halloween more authority in the clubbing calendar than any other holiday?
For clubbers, it comes at the perfect time — just as those post-Summer festival blues creep in. With winter is coming and next summer seems worryingly far away, Halloween comes in to save the day. Much like a festival, it is the perfect excuse to dress up as adults and be praised for it as if this is the norm, and the usual jeans and T-shirt rather sacrilegious. That one magical weekend where public transport is teeming with angels, demons, and everything in between.
With this rise in popularity (and consumerism), comes greater expectation. Halloween has wormed its way in to British culture and it’s here to stay — and clubs, event organisers and Student Unions have to up their game and rise to the challenge. Ghost Tours, Witch-themed Musicals, Theatre productions and dedicated Theme Park rides are on offer, as well as the countless nights out. So how does one choose what to do on the one night of the year that you’re encouraged to go over-the-top with your fancy dress?
Enter IllumiNaughty — we have combined all that Halloween should entail and can quench your desires in just one long night! Take a step into our world and relive that summer festival feeling, safe from the October weather, with four deliciously decorated rooms and stages. We will have the biggest names in Psytrance, Drum & Bass, Bass and Metal playing, delivering a sonic experience to satisfy your Halloween alter-ego. It’s not just a night out, it’s a festival — we are providing all you could want for Halloween. The full experience. The works. Just one night that feels like you’ve been to several clubs, seen several shows, and been to a festival.
We may have abandoned or forgotten much of Halloween’s history, but that doesn’t matter. In its essence, those lovable dates still lend themselves as a therapeutic release of enjoyment that can mean whatever you wish them to. Join us in Manchester and we will show you what Halloween means to us — take a step into our world and lose yourself in an alternate clubbing universe!