Halloween in the UK this year has seen a higher degree of debate about the history and transmission of the festival than I can recall from previous years. In particular there's been an attempt to trace its transatlantic migrations more accurately than the knee-jerk 'it's an American festival' of some of the tabloids.
I'm also struck by the extent to which some older local formulations seem to be reappearing in discussions of the chaos around Halloween. In a report on home repairs after Halloween pranks, Santander General Insurance refer to the damage done during 'mischief week'. (They reckon nearly a quarter of British households have experienced damage, which may be why my local council is enforcing a ban on selling flour and eggs to under-18s for the duration).
But, of course, the real meaning of Halloween is the Contemporary Legend ... I'm delighted to see a return of the 'doctored Halloween treat' story, with this report that LA County Police are warning parents of an increasing number of marijuana-laced treats. (This is a difficult legend, because of the hideous ostension attached to it historically).
In the story linked to here, I particularly like the vagueness about the products themselves. LA County Director Public Health Jonathan Fielding has apparently said they are a risk 'because of the lack of information regarding their manufacture', while the story recommends detecting them 'by smell'.
The real pointer to the legendary character of this report, though, comes in this succinct statement: 'Although the Sheriff's Department has never received a report of laced Halloween treats being distributed, it is nevertheless warning parents about this new potential threat.' You have been warned.