A rather messy war in Britain during Halloween

In the past two months, since the death of the Malayan communist leader Chin Peng on the 16th of September, I have written nine challenging posts about Communism and the brutal jungle war in Malaya and the suffering of the Batang Kali children who travelled without a suitcase. These are challenging to me because I had never set out to write about major historical conflicts on my blog. When I started blogging in English less than two years ago, I had never anticipated that one day I would handle such a sensitive and emotional subject, as the pains of the Batang Kali children are still clearly felt though Communism is already dead in Malaysia.

While I am still reading about the Malaysian history during the Malayan Emergency period while reading War of the Running Dogs: Malaya, 1948-1960 by Noel Barber, and Jungle Green by Arthur Campbell, I have also noticed the change of the season. The warm summer has faded into a rather chilly autumn. In Britain, our clocks moved one hour backwards on the last Sunday in October. It delighted me last weekend as I felt I had earned one extra hour’s sleep.

Change of season; Change of topics

The change of the season also signals a change in my writing. I will take a break from the intensity of the guerrilla fighting during the Malayan Emergency (or you may call it a Civil War or War against terrorism) to other lighter topics.

Today, I’m going to switch from the bloody Jungle War in Malaya to a slightly messy war in the UK. It is called the War against Egg and Flour during the Halloween. Halloween this year is on the 31st of October (Thursday). Though it is not a major festival in the UK, but Halloween seems to be quite popular amongst youngsters.

Have a look at these posters, and you’ll understand what I’m talking about. There is a serious egg and flour sales clampdown in the UK as these are somehow seen as ‘weapons’ used by young people, who go round to people’s house to terrorise innocent people.

I am astounded that the UK is fighting against youngsters in possession of eggs and flour during the Halloween. Even though I had seen posters against youngsters buying eggs and flour before, this is the first time I found such a variety of high quality designs, and some with good sense of humour in the posters issued by various police forces around the country.

Halloween in the UK seems to have been turned into a form of ‘terror’.

Police issued mischief night warning to teenagers that they should not buy eggs or flour. Apparently, it is a trend that some young people would use eggs and flour as their weapons during the Halloween to attack innocent people, causing distress to vulnerable people. Throwing eggs and flour, or mixing flour with water then chucking it at people’s double-glazing windows have become a nuisance.

Luckily my house has not been hit by eggs and flour in the past, possibly because it is a safe neighbourhood. I have spoken to some friends and they all told me how messy it could be to be attacked by eggs and flour. My friend told me that if a raw egg gets thrown at my car and hit the windscreen when I am driving, do not instinctively use the windscreen wipers as the egg will get spread across the windscreen and I will be unable to see. This will cause an accident.

I’m most impressed by the poster designed by the Wiltshire Police. The warning is written as a rhyme:

Eggs and Flour make a mess
Don’t be the one to cause distress

My 12-year-old son first wrote a very insightful post called What is it with Halloween? in his blog two weeks ago, and our conversations since have sparked my interest in this topic. I am not sure how Halloween is celebrated in other countries, but surely banning eggs and flour can’t be a universal rule.  I’m also curious why the Halloween celebration would turn into such a big-scale ‘terror’ in the UK. Do you have any answers? In your country, is there such a ban on eggs and flour sales for youngsters?

18 thoughts on “A rather messy war in Britain during Halloween

    1. Janet Williams Post author

      I thought the particular anti-social behaviour is only in the UK. It’s interesting to know that the same thing happened before in other parts of the world. To be honest, eggs are expensive (about 35p each). It is silly to waste their own money.

  1. Behind the Story

    I’ve never heard of the ban on eggs and flour. In the United States, children go “trick-or-treating” on Halloween. They dress in costumes and walk around the neighborhood, knocking on doors and singing out, “Trick or treat.” If they don’t get a treat, they can play a trick on the homeowner. But everyone has candy for the kids, so they always go away happy. I haven’t heard of any problems for years (besides tummy aches from too much sugar). Halloween has become a time for everyone, kids and adults, to dress up in costumes and either go trick-or-treating or, in the case of adults, attend a costume party.

    1. Janet Williams Post author

      Hi Nicki,

      Trick or Treating is getting more and more popular here, but we don’t always welcome it, as you don’t know who the people are outside your ‘castle’. I live in this lovely neighbourhood with a lot of elderly neighbours, and Trick or Treating is a nuisance to them, not to mention Eggs and Flour. In the UK, you can stick a NO poster on your door and hopefully the zombies and the undead will stop knocking on your door.
      No Trick or Treating

      I think Halloween is a foreign import to the UK. My father-in-law said that “In my youth, Halloween was only celebrated by the few – the rest of us were too busy building vast bonfires and spending our pocket money on fireworks which we could throw at each other.” Don’t forget there is The Guy Fawkes Night on November the 5th, and for many British, bonfire is more fun and it is British.

  2. Hari Qhuang

    I heard that egging is a very old/ traditional way of protesting in UK. I had no idea that children throw eggs to houses as “trick” (because they don’t get the treats)!
    By the way, this post reminds me of what happened in the finale of this year Britain’s Got Talent. 😀

    1. Janet Williams Post author

      Dear Hari,

      I think kids still go round other people’s houses to do traditional Treat or Tricking, but throwing Eggs and Flour is something like a subculture and some people turns it into a night to cause damage. Halloween is not always perceived as a ‘proper’ festival in the UK, and with Eggs and Flour, I think the connotation associated with Halloween is getting more negative than positive.

      What’s about Britain’s Got Talent? I haven’t watched it this year.

      1. Hari Qhuang

        Ah, I see!
        Thank you for explaining, Janet! 😀

        In the finale show of BGT, a female musician, a member of the orchestra to be exact, egged Simon Cowell during the performance of one of the finalists.
        I Googled it to find out more about the incident. One of the articles I found mentioned egging as a very old way of protesting in UK. 😀

      2. Janet Williams Post author

        Thanks for explaining this, Hari. Now I seem to remember the egg-throwing incident was on the news.

        I used to keep some chickens and I know how precious eggs are. They are not cheap, and why wasted them!?

      3. Hari Qhuang

        That is so true!
        Why would someone waste the eggs?
        Don’t they know they price keep raising? (especially the Malay Chicken Egg! The price is twice as high!)

        Er… why am I talking about egg price now? ha ha ha
        Note to myself: Make a post about Malay Chicken… and its eggs!

      4. Janet Williams Post author

        Excellent! Hari, I’m also keen to know about Black Chicken — it’s supposed to be very nutritious. Tell me more please! I can’t wait for your quirky stuff!

  3. janetweightreed10

    Thank you Janet for another interesting post.
    I was born in the UK….moved to the States in 1966 and returned to live in the UK/Europe in 1993. When I first went to the States, Halloween and Trick or treat were things I had never heard of in the UK….and indeed it wasn’t until about 1993, that the Brits followed what was an American tradition.

    What has amazed me is that in twenty years, the Brits do just as much, and in many cases more than the Americans!!
    Someone is making a lot of money from this….including the sellers of flour and eggs:)
    Have a lovely weekend. Janet.

    1. Janet Williams Post author

      Dear Janet,

      When a culture is transplanted on another place, absorbed in the local soil, it always changes into something else, sometimes unrecognisable. I bet Halloween just proves that how an innocent activity in America is now a completely different game in the UK. Even in China, their Halloween zombies are very scary. I found on Age UK website that pensioners are taught Tips on how to survive Halloween and trick or treaters.

      AGE UK’s mentioned: “n America, ‘trick or treat’ is an activity that’s really only for small children who are always accompanied by an adult. It’s not considered in any way threatening or anti-social – in fact it’s a community event with neighbours turning out to appreciate the elaborate costumes.

      Unfortunately, it can be a different story in the UK, where some of us fear visits from rowdy teenagers who may cause damage – or at least throw eggs and flour – if we don’t answer the door and hand over some goodies. ”

      I’m glad that now the zombies are all gone, hopefully. But now we’re anticipating lots of noises and fire from the bonfire – “Remember, Remember, the 5th of November!”

      Have a lovely weekend!

  4. 国樑 KL

    Halloween was not a “treat” that found common in Singapore. But at least for yesterday, I was rather surprised to receive such a treat in the Singapore Airport. I do not know why we should subscribe to this.

    I also recalled when I stayed in Camden Town, London for a year between 1993 and 1994, and a year in 1999, I was not horrified by Halloween back then. It seems that given time and space, Halloween culture has developed aggressively in UK. Is it a good or a bad thing?

    1. Janet Williams Post author

      Halloween is a highly commercialised event. I agree it’s been developed aggressively in the UK in recent years. I don’t think such an invasion is a good thing — as the anti-social behaviour is now getting quite serious. People’s peace has been disturbed; people get scared and worried. There are a lot of old people living alone, and a night of strangers knocking on their doors, or a potential that their doors/windows would be decorated with eggs and flour is not going to be ‘fun’ for them. I could imagine that most people are sensible and they treat Halloween as a fun evening out, or a night for dressing out, but unfortunately, it looks like Halloween is not an innocent evening in some parts of the UK. Various police forces have issued posters and warnings — lots of taxpayers’ money are wasted over eggs and flour.


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