Not that you need a reason to celebrate Halloween, but here’s one: It really annoys Europeans of the stripe who see the United States as a symbol of everything crass, commercial and culturally threatening.
The American-style celebration of Halloween _ costumes, candy, parties _ has been growing in popularity in Europe, and this has alarmed those who see unregulated American-style fun as a threat to the culture.
The Associated Press did a sweep of Europe and turned up people like Hans Kohler, the mayor of the Austrian town of Rankweil, who called Halloween “a bad American habit.” He and the mayors of eight neighboring villages have organized a boycott of the event.
A Swedish folklorist told the AP that Halloween was an “unnecessary, bad American custom,” and a Catholic priest in Italy said that carved pumpkins symbolized the emptiness of our culture.
A culture that’s threatened by little kids dressed as princesses, Star Wars characters, witches and Spiderman _ this year’s most popular costumes _ is probably beyond saving. And Halloween promises to be bigger than ever in Europe this year.
Halloween dress-up days in the schools are becoming an event of the past, thanks to political correctness and the objections of those who feel the holidays celebrate paganism. You remember: The festivals in the Dark Ages when the Druids would dress up as Anakin Skywalker and dance around a giant statue of Spiderman.
The Europeans who think Halloween is untrammeled commercialism haven’t seen anything yet. As a people we like untrammeled commercialism. Halloween is our sixth biggest spending holiday and this year we’ll spend a record $3.3 billion celebrating it.
This year, Halloween will come as a pleasant break. We’ve been opening our front door to find news of hurricanes, floods, casualties and indictments on the stoop. It will be nice to open the door and find Dracula, Frankenstein, Jason, Freddy Krueger and the guy from Texas with the chainsaw on our doorstep instead. And, oh yes, the little princesses and Spidermen too.
(Contact Dale McFeatters at McFeattersD(at)SHNS.com)