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Re: Do We Go Overboard for Halloween?

Jim Burks (
Sat, 29 Oct 2005 00:23:35 GMT

<> wrote in message

> I've noticed that Halloween seems to have grown substantially in
> importance as a holiday. Years ago it was one night -- kids went
> around and collected candy, maybe a few adults had a costume party.

I noticed several years ago when I was in the UK over October 31, that they
do not go in for it as much as we do in the US.

Here's an article on it:,0,4294835.story?coll=orl-home-promo

Some Europeans Aren't Fans of Halloween
Associated Press Writer

October 26, 2005, 4:20 PM EDT

VIENNA, Austria -- It's almost Halloween -- and all those ghosts,
goblins, tricks and treats are giving Hans Kohler the creeps. So the
mayor of Rankweil, a town near the border with Switzerland, has
launched a one-man campaign disparaging Halloween as a "bad American
habit" and urging families to skip it this year.

"It's an American custom that's got nothing to do with our culture,"
Kohler wrote in letters sent out to households. By midweek, the mayors
of eight neighboring villages had thrown their support behind the
boycott. So had local police, annoyed with the annual Oct. 31 uptick
in vandalism and mischief.

Although Halloween has become increasingly popular across Europe --
complete with carved pumpkins, witches on broomsticks, makeshift
houses of horror and costumed children rushing door to door for candy
-- it's begun to breed a backlash.

Critics see it as the epitome of crass, U.S.-style
commercialism. Clerics and conservatives contend it clashes with the
spirit of traditional Nov. 1 All Saints' Day remembrances.

And it's got purists in countries struggling to retain a sense of
uniqueness in Europe's ever-enlarging melting pot grimacing like Jack
o' Lanterns.

Halloween "undermines our cultural identity," complained the
Rev. Giordano Frosini, a Roman Catholic theologian who serves as
vicar-general in the Diocese of Pistoia near Florence, Italy.

Frosini denounced the holiday as a "manifestation of neo-paganism" and
an expression of American cultural supremacy. "Pumpkins show their
emptiness," he said.

To be sure, Halloween is big business in Europe.

Germans alone spend nearly $170 million, on Halloween costumes,
sweets, decorations and parties. The holiday has become increasingly
popular in Romania, home to the Dracula myth, where discotheques throw
parties with bat and vampire themes.

In Britain, where Halloween celebrations rival those in the United
States, it's the most lucrative day of the year for costume and party

"Without Halloween, I don't think we could exist, to be honest," said
Pendra Maisuria, owner of Escapade, a London costume shop that rakes
in 30 percent of its annual sales in the run-up to
Oct. 31. Metropolitan Police, meanwhile, haven't logged any
significant increase in crime.

But not everyone takes such a carefree approach toward the surge in
trick-or-treating -- "giving something sweet or getting something
sour," as it's called in German.

In Austria, where many families get a government child allowance, "parents
who abuse it to buy Halloween plunder for their kids should be forced to pay
back the aid," grumbled Othmar Berbig, an Austrian who backs the small but
strident boycott movement.

In Sweden, even as Halloween's popularity has increased, so have views
of the holiday as an "unnecessary, bad American custom," said Bodil
Nildin-Wall, an expert at the Language and Folklore Institute in

Italy's Papaboys, a group of pope devotees who include some of the
young Catholics who cheer wildly at Vatican events, have urged
Christians not to take part in what they consider "a party in honor of
Satan and hell," and plan to stage prayer vigils nationwide that

Don't take it all so seriously, counters Gerald Faschingeder, who
heads a Roman Catholic youth alliance in Austria. He sees nothing
particularly evil about glow-in-the-dark skeletons, plastic fangs,
fake blood, rubber tarantulas or latex scars.

"It's a chance for girls and boys to disguise themselves and have some
fun away from loud and demanding adults," Faschingeder said. "For one
evening, at least, kids can feel more powerful than grown-ups."

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