November 1, 2008

A Superstitious Dyslexic's Worst Nightmare

This year Halloween was really seven parties in one night! We had a pre-pre-pre-party in Laura's and my flat, when the girls came over and we ordered Pizza Hut and ate festive cupcakes, while we put on our costumes and got ready to go to the pre-pre-party in the boys' common room, followed by the pre-party downstairs in the Mylne's Court common room for free booze and candy (we're not fools), before going right outside our dorms to see the Halloween Parade. Then we returned to the boys' common room to finish off our supply, then ventured out and joined the post-parties at the pubs. Of course the night ended back in the boys' common room.

During our 3xpre-party, Paige needed a sharp tool to poke holes in the fabric of her costume in order to put the finishing touches of lacing a ribbon through it, so I fetched her the sharpest knife we had in our kitchen. Then, I pulled a Lindsay Lohan and we took a series of photographs of me with the knife, pretending to kill my friends. Although, L-Lo just did that on a random night and she was probably all coked-out... I like to think mine was in the spirit of Halloween and not quite as trashy-celebrity-I-need-to-go-to-rehab-tabloid-article.

Dorothy Parker killing Robin Sparkles
This year Halloween fell on Friday the 31st...spooky. It's a superstitious dyslexic's worst nightmare. I was so ready to celebrate the haunting holiday in the most ghostly place on earth, but was surprised by the traditions here. When asking my classmates what their plans were for the evening, more than half of them said they weren't doing anything. Of the other half, only a small portion were even dressing up, and of those costumes they were all witches and devils, and simple scary demons and creatures. Whereas back home we tend to get pretty creative and elaborate with our costumes... or just slutty, speaking of Lindsay Lohan ( Mean Girls on Halloween ). My British friends told me that they do trick-or-treat here, but only really small children participate, and not even that often. Young adults and grown-ups don't have Halloween costume parties the way we do in the States. They don't even have candy corn here!
My parents shipped me over a small amount of candy corn and I introduced my UK friends to the Halloween treats. Bella claimed that they looked like drugs, little colored pills (I guess it didn't help that I was carrying them in a clear ziplock bag).  But she enjoyed the taste - she said it was like icing, or the inside of a fudge bar. Who wouldn't enjoy eating a sugar/honey/marshmallow mix?! Since it was so expensive to ship the candy, I had to ration my small amount. It was such a strange concept to only eat four or five pieces a day when I'm so use to buying a big bag and just devouring it in one sitting. Although, once you eat more than five pieces, the sugar-rush is unmanageable and you feel dizzy and nauseous. To quote the comedian Jim Gaffigan on American eating habits: "have you ever eaten so much that you felt sick... yeah, isn't that great?! ...That was strangely patriotic."
But despite their lack of the American traditions that I'm used to - there was a parade! The Beltane Fire Society celebrated Samhuinn (pronounced sow-win) with a procession down the Royal Mile. They started at the Castle Esplanade (which is right next to my dorms) and ended in St. Gile's Square with a performance on a constructed stage. Samhuinn is the pagan festival signifying the end of the summer harvest and the beginning of the Celtic New Year. The name, Samhuinn, in Old Irish, refers to the date of the celebration: Nov 1st, typically associated with the first frost. It's the end of the "light" half of the year and the beginning of the "dark" half: a festival of the dark and of the dead. It was tradition to remember ancestors and tell tales of the dead at Samhuinn feasts with bonfires or "bonefires" where Celts would slaughter their cattle in preparation for the coming winter months and toss their bones into the massive fire pit. Folklore says that Samhuinn is a time when the boundaries between the world of the living and the world of the dead are blurred and spirits walk the earth, so it is a time to pay respect and make sacrifices to those who have passed on... because now they're back! And ready to haunt you.

Samhuinn Parade
The parade was really creepy and really disturbing. The procession (only to the beat of drums - there were like two guitars but you could barely hear them) was so slow - almost like a funeral march, and all the characters were painted from head to toe in either white, black, blue, or red, with just one green guy (who looked like a mix between the Jolly Green Giant and the Ghost of Christmas Present). They all had shabby clothing that didn't always cover all of themselves, and horned hats, and masks, and were either stumbling around drunk, or running around wild like they were possessed by some demon. And they all had torches.  

Samhuinn Parade
One group of cloaked characters with drums marched by in silence, not beating a single drum, not speaking or cackling like the others, not even looking around at the crowd - just staring straight ahead with their robes draped over their faces so that all you could see were their eyes. It was unsettling. 

Silent drummers of the night
There was a performance in St. Giles Square, but we couldn't get close enough to really comprehend what was going on. I did see the white character (who I'm guessing was Jack Frost) sit in a wicker chair throne while the red characters entertained him by drinking and dry humping each other. Since we couldn't really see what was happening, my friends and I headed out to the pubs.  Frankenstein's Monster Mash party was packed, so we ended up at Oddfellows, home to the best DJ in all of Edinburgh. We sang and danced on tables until 1:30 in the morning. Thankfully, I didn't see any ghosts all night... it was an awesome Halloween!

Apple Sour Shots at Oddfellows

Halloween dance party at Oddfellows
My favorite moment of the evening: Robin Sparkles' Kick-and-Run with the homeless man's coffee cup of change. Well done Rachel, it's not enough that the man is sitting Indian-style, on the sidewalk, in the cold, at 11pm, on Halloween, begging for change, but you have to go and kick whatever collection he has so that it rolls across the street... and then you just keep walking. You know you're going to hell, right?

Sparkles' kick-and-run


Me, dancing on the street

1 comment:

Carly, the cupcake lady said...

Hey you silly girl, it was AWESOME to see you last night. I miss you!!! It was great to see your family! They miss you soo much so you better get on your broom for christmas I promise I will make you ewwy gewwy welcome home cupcakes.