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Hallowe'en traditions...A question

post #1 of 8
Thread Starter 
There's a tradition? practice? ...whatever... in Vancouver, and at least some other parts of the province of BC, that I had never encountered before I came here. That is fireworks -- not organized public displays, such as around Canada Day or other such holidays, but private stuff -- groups of a few individuals letting off fireworks, usually in the street, apparently for their own amusement. It starts several days before Hallowe'en, and trickles on for a few days after, and can happen every evening.

How widespread is this custom? Does anybody know its source? history? I've got to say I've never understood what it's about, and as long as there have been fur people in my life, I've been very much against it. When that nonsense is going on outside, we've got three spooked kitties inside. You can bet this is one of the occasions when they DON'T have access to the outdoors, and for a good week every year we have feline frustration up the ying-yang, not to mention the upset when the #%&##^%&# things are going off.

I'll never LIKE the practice, but if I could understand the cultural significance, perhaps I could feel less resentful of the effect it has on my babies, and their habits. Without such an understanding, I can only think of it as dangerous and barbaric.
post #2 of 8
I dont know about Halloween fireworks as a 'tradition' I just think it is an excuse! Halloween was not such a big deal over here until the past few years when the little beggers come round for sweeties and money! The fireworks start round here about 10th October and go on and on until was past Guy Fawkes which is 5t November. 'bonfire night' as it is called (the ritual burning of a effigy of Guy Fawkes who tried to blow up the Houses of Parliment)on 5th Nov is a free for all where fireworks are concerned. We have big organised bonfires which are very good but it is the seemingly random selling of fireworks for weeks before that is a worry. Very loud bangs every night round by us. This then will continue sporadically until Christmas! Very scary for little outside kitties who cant get home in time! Needless to say my lot are tucked inside long before it gets dark.
post #3 of 8
No fireworks here for Halloween. People have started in recent years stringing up outside colored lights, like the kind used for xmas but in Halloween colors. I don't really like that, as I am used to colored lights meaning xmas. To me, Halloween decorating involves lots of paper decorations (cats, skeletons, witches, etc) in the windows, a scarecrow outside, bales of hay, corn stalks, and lots of pumpkins.
post #4 of 8
It could be that BC has a large population of people from China and fireworks mean more to them then to most people. They use them in all types of festivities. Maybe that has something to do with it.
post #5 of 8
To me, Halloween means pumpkins, ghosties, bats, candy corn, candied apples, costumes, and maybe a visit to a haunted house. Setting off firecrackers is one I haven't heard of.

I'm sure glad it doesn't happen down here...we already have to keep all the cats & dogs indoors for a few days around New Year's Day and the 4th of July. It's sad b/c there are a lot of missing pets around those days, from poor frightened animals jumping fences and running away.

I wonder if it might be a new variation of the 'trick' part of trick or treat?
post #6 of 8
Thread Starter 
Originally posted by adymarie
It could be that BC has a large population of people from China and fireworks mean more to them then to most people. They use them in all types of festivities. Maybe that has something to do with it.
It's true, there's a large Asian population, particularly in Vancouver. However, I suspect that this is only a small part of the explanation at the most.

These private fireworks have been going on for a lot longer than would be explained by the recent increase in the Asian population, and they happen all over the city, in all neighbourhoods, pretty much without exception, not just the primarily Asian ones.

My husband grew up in Victoria, longer ago than he'd like to admit, and even as a child he remembers this "tradition" in his completely non-Asian neighbourhood.

The increase in the Asian population probably has served to increase the incidence of this practice, but I doubt that it's responsible for its existence.

Tulip2454: I can see where the Guy Fawkes celebrations in the UK might generate some anticipatory fireworks in October. It sounds as if they gear up for and wind down from that in much the same way as these folks do around Hallowe'en, though it also sounds as if they take somewhat longer about it .

I wondered for a moment whether that might have been a factor in our phenomenon, since there's also a large British influence here, particularly in Victoria, said by some to be more British than the British, and to be behind "the Tweed Curtain". But I don't think that's an explanation, either. It might have been in Rob's neighbourhood, but he remembers it as connected with Hallowe'en, not Guy Fawkes.

There was also another specific occasion I remember a number of years ago -- my first experience of it, in fact. The people involved might well have been inclined to celebrate Guy Fawkes, but that's not what they were celebrating -- it was very specifically a Hallowe'en party for which Chris got fireworks.

Like the rest of you, my experience of Hallowe'en, growing up, was lotsa paper decorations -- witches and bats and cats and pumpkins and what not -- jack o'lanterns, traisping around the neighbourhood in costume with friends, with a pillowslip to collect the ton of treats -- none of which had been injected with poison or had razor blades inserted, I might add -- just good clean fun, and admonitions for the next week, "OK, you've had enough for today. Put the goodies away."

Mom of 10 Cats: We're starting to see coloured house lights around here, too. I don't care for it, either. Coloured lights is Christmas, and I'd just as soon they waited until December to do it, and took them down at Epiphany, too. But that's a different tirade, so I won't go there for now

Thanks for all the responses, folks.
post #7 of 8
For the past few years, I've been seeing colored lights, for Halloween - orange and purple. I bought two strings of the purple ones but, they're for my Christmas tree.

If it weren't for the possible thievery, I'd buy some of those neat animatronics, for the yard. The Halloween Superstore, near my house, has some great ones. I think that I'm going to get the motion-sensor cat, though. It will drive Rowdy crazy!
post #8 of 8
Umm...I feel the need to explain fireworks from an Asian point of view...and in the process probably screw up thousands of years of history.

Fireworks are used for all sorts of reasons as adymarie said.

They're used to ward off evil spirits and bad omens at weddings. Generally firecrackers are used for this, though these days fireworks are used because, heck they do look pretty.

There is a Spring Festival where fireworks and firecrackers are set off. This started from a legend that there was a monster Nian, (translates to year), that always attacked people during Spring. So the people gathered together and came up with a plan to throw bamboo on fire to make a big bang to frighten Nian away. It worked and Nian vanished.

At Chinese New Year, firecrackers and fireworks are used to welcome the God of Wealth. This is done at exactly midnight because the earlier that the fireworks are set off, the more likely the God of Wealth will come to your home.

I think that covers it.

Though after saying all that I do not agree that the average person on the street should be able to buy fireworks and set them off. I have the knowledge to make fireworks and know what to add to make pretty colours. The reason why I don't actually do it is because I'm not a professional. There are so many dangers involved in making and while setting them off, firecrackers included.

And Halloween traditions...well I live in Australia...some kids dress up and trick or treat. That's about it. No one really decorates their homes. It's not really an Australian tradition so I can't figure out why people over here do it. I suppose it's the free candy. Heck, how did Halloween start anyway? Though some kids do some damage on Halloween and you can bet that my front gate is going to be shut and locked. I live in a rough town and on a pretty rough street.
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