Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Halloween in France: Dead or Alive?

Well, what would you have done if you had had fourteen 14-year-olds celebrating Halloween "American-style" -- whatever that means -- in your French living room and kitchen?


I hid out in my office and started to reflect on the diminishing presence of Halloween in France. Google searches ensued.


Do you know what? Halloween has been around in France for quite a while now. Somehow I still feel like it's vaguely new. But I just happened upon an article from exactly ten years ago commenting on the rather strange arrival of Halloween in France:

"In one of the stranger manifestations of globalization, Halloween fever has abruptly gripped the French, sending pumpkin prices soaring and sorely testing the Gallic ability to pronounce "trick or treat," wrote Roger Cohen on October 31, 1997.

Ten years already! Yet apparently the bewitching party is almost over. Last year on this date, John Stodder reported that "Le Halloween, c'est mort," citing Forbes.com:

"The major dailies Le Monde and Le Parisien reported on Tuesday that following some short-lived popularity, the Halloween holiday has been 'pretty much buried.' The reasons seem to be a mixture of falling sales and anti-Americanism. Perchance a smattering of protectionism too. 'Our Halloween sales have been falling by half every year since 2002,' Le Monde quoted toy retailer La Grande Recre as saying."

Flailing perhaps, but not totally dead -- or why would we have a bevy of teenage French girls dancing around our house tonight, or a group of "treek or treetears" who just knocked at our door?

8 comments:

katiez said...

We have no young children in our little hamlet so no 'treek or treetears' - thankfully! I would have had to give them bread and jam...
Hope the kids had a great party - and you escaped successfully!

Poppy Fields said...

I agree, Halloween lives on in France, if not a bit feebly. I gave out quite a bit of candy to some scary ghouls saying "farce ou festin" when I opened the door.

Tinsie said...

It's amazing that we've not had trick or treaters here, but you got them in France?!

Although having said this, my friend had some visit her yesterday (just a couple of days late). Kids will do anything for free chocolate these days ;-)

Anonymous said...

Well obviously Halloween is not a French tradition and will never be. I mean, would you expect us (I'm French) to celebrate Thanksgiving for example ?
This Halloween phenomenon is just a commercial thing here.
But yes, kids will do anything to get free "bonbons" ^^

Bye

Betty C. said...

To anonymous,

I wish you would identify yourself. Why are more critical comments always "anonymous?"

I certainly don't "expect" anything. In fact I considered Halloween's coming to France to be pretty strange, and I understand why a lot of French people don't like to celebrate it -- even though, as so many articles explain, it is not originally an American tradition either.

I would have been happy to
live without it in France, but one of my daughters and her French friends really started to enjoy celebrating it, so...

My comment was not an opinion piece; I was just interested if people felt the Halloween phenomonen was over here or not.

Thank you anyway for your comment, but next time why don't you identify yourself?

sarala said...

I love your blog. I'm a wannabee ex patriot but living here in ordinary Chicago, Illinois. I was just asking someone on another French blog about the movement of Halloween to Europe and here you are telling me all about it. So is anonymous blaming Americans on the export? Not my doing, that's for sure.
I tried to pronounce Trick or Treat with a French accent. Pretty tough.
Of course in my neighborhood some of the kids don't even bother to say anything. I catch myself being grumpy and asking them where they learned their manners.
I'll be back.

wcs said...

I'm a grinch, if one can be a grinch at halloween. I would always make plans for halloween so I wouldn't have to be home, and when I was home, it was lights out, hide in back.

My dog would go nuts if the doorbell rang, and that made me nuts.

One year while living in San Francisco, I went to see that musical, "Phantom of the Opera" on halloween night. A great way to spend the evening.

Betty C. said...

Oh I'd rather go see "Phantom" than host or go to any sort of Halloween party! Great choice...

I saw it in London last year and it was fabulous.