Wednesday, 30 October 2013

Pimp my isle

Us Irish have been, and are, called many things but ostentatious can never really be one of them. In comparison to our brethren across the pond (the bigger pond that is), we tend to be quite a reserved bunch; then again who isn’t when viewed in such a light?

The 'flashier' side to a modern Irish Halloween
Halloween -- less substance, more shabby style?
Even at the height of the Celtic Tiger when many people had more (borrowed) money than sense, we never really became too brash or cocky. Sure we may have built to excess but we tended to stick to the ‘less talk, more action’ mantra. Things were ‘grand’; you’d be hard pressed to find anyone use that flamboyant, quintessentially North American word ‘awesome’.

Perhaps much of this was due to the fact that deep down, even if we didn’t outwardly acknowledge it, we knew our newfound (borrowed) wealth wouldn’t last.

So now that the arse has well and truly fallen out of our ‘mighty little’ economic miracle, you would think being showy is the last thing on our minds – considering that is, that we traditionally don’t do it, it just doesn’t sit well with us at all. Rather than things being awesome, they’re just awkward.

Yet, as the dust settles on our ‘gluttonous’ years, one obvious legacy, very much in evidence over the Halloween period, is the desire for young families to ‘pimp up’ their homes for various events and festivities. Okay, one might have expected a scaling up in this regard when the country was awash with (borrowed – get it?) money, but there appears to be no sign of scaling back now that we’ve returned to our ‘normal’ financial state (hard-pressed that is).

Christmas decorating predates the ‘boom’ years and it’s not something we’ve too many misgivings about, although its arrival seems to get earlier and earlier each year with an accompanied increase in the lavishness of these Yuletide manifestations.

It’s the relatively recent uptake of Halloween folderol that has us scratching our heads. We’ve always recognised the day of course – in fact it’s an Irish festival, its roots going back to pagan times on the island. But the odd costume and trick-or-treater aside, we were never too bothered about jazzing up our houses and streets with a host of Halloween paraphernalia – we left that to the Yanks, in much the same way we ‘let’ them outdo us in the St. Patrick’s Day celebrations.

That all seems to have changed now. Decorations are a prerequisite these days – fake spiders’ webs are hung up (while at the same time frantically sweeping away real ones), figures of witches and skeletons put on display and pumpkins are ‘planted’ in every corner of the house.

An 'explosive' Halloween bounty
Now there’s nothing inherently wrong with such practices – you could argue that they bring some lesser-spotted cheer to surroundings in these hard-pressed, almost gloomy times (the current state-of-play being far spookier than any contrived Halloween scare). However when you’re preaching poverty to strait-laced neighbours who happen to be paying your way, being a bit flashy doesn’t send out the right signals, does it? It’s a bit like the struggling parents, who apparently never have money for anything, hiring a private photographer when it comes to their little Johnny’s or Mary’s Communion Day. Well come on, they couldn’t be expected to share the one laid on for the group or, whisper it, take their own amateur photos on such a momentous day.

Back to Halloween, how about returning to some of our more, erm, traditional, simpler customs? The ‘innocent’ days of kicking some old man’s hard-saved cabbage, launching fireworks and ‘mild’ explosives at ‘legitimate’ targets and subsequently getting chased by An Garda Síochána (the Irish police) appear lost in the past. Solid substance has been replaced by shallow style.

Come on guys, you know this showiness doesn’t suit us. It’s not always best practice to slavishly follow Mr and Mrs Jones.


  1. A chara, your cutting close to the bone here, your imminent departure have anything to do with this? ;)

    1. Really?! Which bit exactly was 'cutting close to the bone'?! 'We' haven't left yet!