Saturday, October 31, 2009

Halloween in Italy? Not Really

Italy tries to borrow a lot of American tradition. High school students want to organize "prom" their last year like they see in our films. Santa Clause now brings Christmas presents on Christmas Day instead of the traditional Befana delivering them on the Epiphany, a more Catholic version of the giving.

Halloween has been promoted steadily since I first came to Italy about 10 years ago. The children sometimes dress up. The bars host themed parties as an "exotic" and rather easy way to create a novel environment for a night and attract more customers. Clubs do the same. But most of what I see here is just a lot of merchandise being sold at the cartoleria and a few orange pumpkins appearing in the local supermarkets for inflated prices.

It's just not the same. Rarely do I see an honest homemade costume. The energy is simply not right among supposed revellers.

I wonder why this American tradition was borrowed by this country when it has no real place or connection to this particular culture. As for costumes, Carnival offers Italians 2 weeks of time to don a different face or persona, so there is no need to do the same now in October. Once a year is enough.

Pumpkins don't naturally grow here. They have to cultivate the special squash variety precisely for this foreign holiday. Nothing is indigenous about the whole thing.

This holiday is another example of globalization gone wrong. We really don't need to celebrate Halloween all around the world. As for those of us in Italy, just wait til winter and you've got Carnival to be masked and mischievous!

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