Friday, November 03, 2006

Whither Halloween?

What happened to Halloween this year? Have the French given it up as a bad job?

Although Norma had a few desultory bags of last year's unsold Halloween lollypops, and a box of rotting pumpkins with sprayed on black eyes and mouth and the instructions 'Ne pas manger', Intermarche had nothing, and Carrefour a measily corner of costumes, one or two bits of kit and a few bags of sweets.

I had also detected a certain amount of apathy in the lead-up a few days before as I touted around for enthusiasm at the idea of holding a Halloween party. Interest levels crawled up to 'dunno' level so I gave up the idea as a bad job.

Nevertheless, my home-made deccies were all put up : the black bat silhouettes, flaming cauldron with its green frogs jumping in, spider in its web, witch on a broomstick with accompanying black cat (I had a run on black corrugated card that year) and orange pumpkins. It all looks most festive with the orange Veuve Clicquot plastic pumpkin champagne bottle holder in which I put a candle, and other bits and pieces.

Luckily, the boys were keen to go out in search of bonbons in the neighbourhood so our decorating efforts were not wasted. We also had local kids knocking on the door, but no ados like last year - no spotty youths in menacing robes, so it was all jolly and over by 8pm.

Have the French simply lost interest? Apparently various members of the Establishment were up in arms about the imported American festivities, being the party poopers that they are, and started a 'say no to Halloween' campaign which was successful enough for me not to have heard of it. The Church (Catholic) also jumped on the party pooper band waggon and declared Halloween as unfit for a pure French nation to indulge in, it being a) an American import, and b) way too much fun.

As it was probably little more than a passing fad, it just had its moment of glory and then faded out of the French psyche. Nothing wrong with that, but I think people who try to over-analyse why this happened may be obsessing a bit and doing a jobsworth on us. I think crowing over their success at saying 'no' might be a bit misplaced too. They just hit the bandwaggon at the right stop.

Kids will continue to enjoy Halloween whatever the party poopers declare, however. It gives them a chance to dress up as ghosties and witches, look spooky enough to frighten themselves a tiny bit, and the opportunity to dash around the neighbourhood in the dark coyly demanding sweets. That is what it's all about really. It's now a fun occasion for the kids to do their own thing unfettered by adult over-organisation, but in safety.

The deccies are all coming down this weekend, but you can bet your bottom euro they'll all be up again next year!


  1. I have an uncle and aunt who emigrated to the States in the late 40s, early 50s. They sent me and my brothers these stacks of US comics, so I was exposed to American culture from an early age. I remember looking at the Halloween issues, full of pumpkins and candles with mild interest and curiosity, but never once did I say "How come we don't celebrate this in England ?". I'm wondering now why that was, because anything that would brighten up post-war austerity Britain was surely something to be welcomed.

    I think it just seemed a bit OTT . Witches etc were OK in books or comics from time to time, but I couldn't see the point or need of having a fixed event in the calendar, akin to Christmas, to celebrate them. Isn't it a bit tantamount to saying that the world of demons and spirits is on a par with that of the religious festivals ? 50 years later, I'm now non-religious, and have been since my teens, but I still think Halloween is OTT ! I admire the French for having tried it, and then politely saying no thank you.

  2. Hello there!

    Actually, to begin with, Halloween was an irish and celtic event.....and you can't be more catho than that!

    Ados gave it up, but it was not really meant for them, the hogged it! Its meant for the smaller ones, and lots of bonbons to be given. I think it was considered "unsuitable" when ados turned it into somethinga bit gory of the "scream' style, and that put parents off it as being satanique or gory or indecent.

    But the real "fete" was for weenies, with lovely dressing up and tons of I bet you one or two of us will still buy sweeties and hope little ones will come by to ask for them.....this year nobody rang on my bell. But if I did not have Ed and her weenies - who would ring on my door anyway?


  3. Plenty of festivities over our way though my own have outgrown it.
    trut the government to spoil a bit of harmless fun!

  4. It's good to read about your work to put up the decorations, buy the treats, and head out into the world costumed. Fun!

    I've been out the last several days reading Halloween related posts by expatriate bloggers...and putting the links to them on my blog. I just can't stop!

    Meilleurs vœux!

  5. I love Halloween
    We feast on ghouls and ghosts, witches and wizards... the odd little devil or two
    We love being visited by the local kids, and we welcome them
    And then, once the excitement has died down and I am alone, I perform some Celtic rituals, to put me in touch with my roots and nature's cycles
    I see no reason why Halloween should be vilified nor why it should take away any of the solemnity and respect of La Toussaint
    "Chacun voit midi a sa porte"

  6. I'll be interested to see what happens next year; whether we get any little ghosties at the door or not.


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