October is coming to a close which can only mean three things: Halloween is upon us; Bonfire Night is coming soon thereafter; and the clocks are about to change. Like most people, we at the Varsity Hotel Cambridge are more fond of the first two. Though at this time of spooky thrills we can appreciate the latter’s potential to throw the world into vampiric inspired darkness…
A Community Celebration
These days Halloween is celebrated in all sorts of strange places across the world. But here in Britain it has only become a mainstream event in the relatively recent past. As in, during the lifetimes of those who are now parents and grandparents. Before then, Halloween was a little like Thanksgiving is today – a celebration that is a big deal in the US, but completely ignored in the UK.
Thanksgiving is a holiday created by the US and unique to their history. More or less. While Halloween was instead a festival brought into the melting pot of a nation by immigrants, mostly from Ireland. But over time it was adapted from its first Pagan and then later Christian roots to instead become a festival based around building up and reinforcing a community.
The old traditions of Samhain did not include bobbing for apples or trick or treating. And while costumes were worn the idea was not to have a come-as-you-aren’t night. These and more were all slowly melded into a new US identity to foster strong communities.
Bonfire Night, a UK celebration only which falls a week after Halloween, has a past considered much more dubious by a modern audience. It is a celebration of the failure, capture and execution of a group of religious extremists and convicted traitors. Their crime? Attempting to blow up Parliament, thus assassinating both the leading politicians of the day and the King as well.
For many, many decades afterwards this event was considered a cause for joyous celebration. That England was spared from the spiritual devastation of rule by…Catholics. Nowadays most Brits can’t fathom why anyone even cared about that. And are more than a little concerned about celebrating the deaths of others.
No, far better not to question the reasons why we celebrate and just accept the excuse for a party. That’s certainly what we at the Varsity Hotel prefer to do. And this year we have some spectacular Halloween-inspired cocktails on offer in Six, for your viewing and drinking pleasure.
And we’ve also rolled out an old classic for out hotel guests. We’ve reintroduced the very popular Advanced Purchase Rates, offering our guests discounted rates on rooms when booked far enough in advance. We look forward to seeing you soon.