Thursday, November 02, 2006

Halloween on the Wane in France

You wouldn't have known it from the thirteen thirteen-year-old French witches partying it up at our house on Tuesday night, but Halloween may be on its way out in France. has announced the demise of the holiday, quoting several French newspapers -- and check out their great photo.

"Halloween was a marketing gimmick aimed mainly at children. It's a big festival of consumption selling outfits, masks, gadgets and it couldn't last forever," declared former "Non à Halloween" president Arnaud Guyot-Jeanninin to Reuters. His group has disbanded, its mission accomplished.

As an American expat, I have always had mixed feelings about the importation of Halloween to France. Although I was happy that my children could celebrate it with their friends -- and one daughter especially loves the holiday -- I can understand the consternation of French people who don't want to adopt a celebration that is foreign to them, despite its Celtic origins.

And then there is the uncomfortable cohabitation between Halloween and All Saint's Day, or la Toussaint, on November 1st. The latter is a national holiday and serves as the French family Memorial Day; traditionally, it is the time to decorate family members' graves with flowers. The idea of whooping it up in ghoulish costumes the night before visiting the family cemetery legitimately represents a disconnect for many.

What do you think? Has le Halloween come and gone?


cityfarmer said...

I hope so, I DO love fall, but not that particular aspect of it.

cityfarmer said...

I hope so, I DO love fall, but not that particular aspect of it.

Samantha said...

Personally, I don't think Halloween has died out here, I think it's a ploy by the French gov to try to CONVINCE everyone that Halloween is dead. I mean, how many articles/reportages I have I seen over the past few days on that subject alone. It's like they think if they keep telling everyone it's dying out, that will actually happen. Which is maybe true.

LoracAnn said...

I think the French are wise. As a USA citizen born and bred and almost 70, I have seen Halloween grow from just a fun time for children with masks and sometimes a costume, trick or treating in their neighborhoods--to a full blown extravaganza with haunted houses all about, ghoulish animated yard decorations, more blood and gore the better, salespeople dressed in costume and even a lot of adults dressed in costume for just the heck of it. I think it should be downplayed, Nov. 1 is All Saints here-a Holy Day of obligation for Catholics, but not celebrated as the French do--that was interesting.I enjoyed the article very much.

angela said...

If it is dying no one told us round here. Houses are a bit isolated so the trick or treating doesn't happen but there seemed to be lots of parties in private houses and children dressed up.
I see the point about Toussaint but Hallowe'en makes a good focal point for the holidays, plenty of designing and making for the kids and clearing up for the mums! As always.
But then in this corner there are lots of foreigners.

misschrisc said...

Maybe it's because French kids aren't in school this time of year. When I was a kid in the states the real build up to Halloween was the classroom where decorations and fun little educational driven projects gave us all the motivation to compete for candy and costumes. Discussing costume ideas with friends was a big topic in the weeks before the holiday. french kids can't do this. The kids are all with their parents for the Toussaint holiday break and the parents are telling them that Halloween is just a marketing ploy. *yawn*

It seems like French kids never get to have any fun :( Lighten up and let them have a little pleasure in life! I mean who on earth does upbeat stories on the decline of Halloween...umm, that would be the French. Okee....

blueVicar said...

Good to see the news of your celebration.

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!

Parisienne Farmgirl said...

On my second trip to Paris I was shocked to see a full Halloween window display on rue Vavin in Paris. Earlier that day I had scene what looked like a punk kid walking down the street with his pants half falling down - i looked at my husband...we sighed, thinking some things should never be allowed to cross the pond.

Mimi said...

I'm late to this discussion because my computer was down. I have mixed feelings, too. Halloween has gotten out of hand in the U.S.

Selfishly, perhaps I want France to maintain its identity.