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I don’t know about you, but I LOVE Halloween. I love the autumnal feeling, leaves on the ground, the crack and fizz of fireworks, houses decorated with pumpkins and mechanised skeletons that shriek like a banshee when you innocently set them off. I love the costumes, the makeup, the special effects, the nostalgic movies, the food, and overall, the idea that you can do pretty much anything you want and be totally and completely silly and everyone allows it – because its Halloween!

I’m certainly trying hard to pass on my love of this unusual holiday to my kids. I encourage dressing up and pretending, expression and creativity and good old fashioned, simple fun. Recently, as my daughter and son have been telling me what they want to dress up as, and I’ve been looking ideas up on Google, Pinterest and Amazon it occurred to me just how different Halloween is to the celebration when I was young.

Ah, the 80s. A simpler time. Northern Ireland in the 80s was, let’s face it – rather grim. I’m not even going to go in to the generally horrendous political situation, but for the normal kid living in Belfast, there was very little in the way of resources for costumes or parties. Parents had to improvise. I’m sure everyone reading this who grew up during that time is remembering the completely embarrassing home made costumes that they had to suffer through. Not only was there no online ordering, but you couldn’t even get your hands on a pumpkin, oh no, that was FAR too exotic back then. Not a chance. Some of my favourite memories of Halloween include;

  • Those rubbery witches fingernails that were like little tubes that you put on your fingers. Yes, you thought you were awesome.
  • Going to fresh garbage to buy the only pot of black nail varnish that existed in the entire province.
  • Your Mum buying a turnip. YES A FECKING TURNIP to hollow out and ‘pretend’ it was a pumpkin.
  • Your Mum cutting her hand while carving the damn thing.
  • Holding said turnip out in the street with your friends and burning your fingers on the metal coat hanger handle because the candle inside over heated the metal. No Health and Safety rules here, folks!
  • Your friend having a plastic Dracula cape and being SO jealous of them.
  • Plastic bendy vampire ‘teeth’ – for some reason, no one has improved this – you can still buy them and they’re still crap. And slightly dangerous.
  • There was no such thing as actual ‘trick or treating’ – you knocked on random doors and sang the ‘Halloween is coming’ song and you were lucky if you got 20 pence.
  • Actually being a bit scared about dunking for apples. Only me? Okay then.
  • Having your costume made out of any of the following; a black bin liner, a white bin liner, an old sheet, your Dad’s clothes. Scundered.
  • Did anyone else’s Mum make apple tarts and put dirty, old ten pence coins ‘for luck’ inside? Not even wrapped in foil or anything? Were my parents trying to kill us?
  • Going to your friends for an illegal fireworks display – they weren’t allowed in NI back then unless you had a licence. Felt kind of exciting, though!
  • Getting your tongue stuck in the little slit of your £1 mask bought from the spar up the street.
  • Really not knowing why monkey nuts were in the house. Actually I still think that. Does anyone actually eat them? Ugh.

But at least the mercy of all those embarrassing and slightly strange days was that at least it wasn’t all documented in all its cringe-worthy glory on instagram!!! Phew!

Happy Halloween, folks!