L is for Lantern

Happy 5th of November!

I’ve always preferred Bonfire Night to Halloween (although Diwali has gained a large place in my heart since a former co-worker and I ate all the sweets she’d brought in for our two departments). I grew up in a village where bonfire night was a big thing, with competitions for the best Guys and best turnip lanterns (even if my animal husbandry lecturer later made a point of telling us that those were swedes and the smaller, whiter root vegetables are properly turnips).

On the other hand, pumpkins are easier to carve than turnips (though not as good for eating in my opinion) and the supermarkets do sell a fabulous range of Halloween-themed sweets. Not to mention the fun videos that come out at this time of year from the zoos that go all out hiding treats for their animals in carved pumpkins and other spooky decorations. Like this one (links to lots more videos from the same place) and this one.

There’s a downside to lanterns though. The growing popularity for releasing Chinese lanterns is causing a lot of worries to arable and livestock farmers amongst others. There’s a very real danger that lanterns might set fire to crops and dry fodder in drier weather than we’ve had of late, and the wires from extinguished lanterns can get mixed up in fodder and cause serious problems if eaten by cattle. The Welsh Assembly has debated limiting the sale of these lanterns and they have been banned totally from the bonfire night celebrations in Regent’s Park and on Primrose Hill. It will be interesting to see how this story develops as more authorities debate the issue.

To end on more cheering spooky news, the latest theory on Alderney’s ‘ghost pig’ is that it may be a wild boar that’s swum across from France.

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