The Virginia Monologues, part 2
In the UK, grey squirrels are taking over the habitat of native red squirrels and giving them diseases. This is of course a Bad Thing, so back home I regard grey squirrels with mild resentment.
But here, I like them. They belong here.
This Squirrel Effect applies to culture too. For example, the Scottish Hallowe'en custom of guising is dying out and being replaced by an invasive species of trick-or-treater, which annoys me, especially as most British ones are teenagers who demand cash instead of sweets and wear masks only so the police won't recognise them.
Like squirrels, though, traditions are much nicer and make more sense in their native context. Trick-or-treating is meant for very young children, too small or shy to memorise songs and jokes. In the same vein, pumpkins (an exotic and rather pricey vegetable back home) are in season, so making lanterns out of them is a natural harvest celebration.
Of course, I will always think turnip lanterns look better and more ghoulish, but that's upbringing for you.
Anyway, it's lovely to find out that these traditions, however much is lost in translation, do have something real at their heart and aren't all thought up by the greetings card companies. And it's very refreshing to be able to enjoy a festival without lamenting how Americanised it's become.
Labels: Crossing the Pond