Alowine attitudes

Halloween is a particularly popular holiday in America. Some say it’s the second most important retail holiday in the U.S., behind Christmas. Americans buy costumes for themselves, their children, and even their pets. Many people have costume parties, and some cities or retail businesses host events for children on Halloween as an alternative to door-to-door trick or treating.

But maybe the Americanization of Halloween hasn’t been true to the holiday’s roots, which offers a remembrance and respect for the dead.

Lit pumpkins near the Eiffel Tower

In France, the holiday and its celebrations are fairly new and controversial. It showed up in the 1980s, and was first celebrated at a bar where staff had to explain the holiday to patrons. Here’s how one writer describes it:

Halloween in France is rather controversial, due to the perception of corporate and cultural influence, as well as the fact that it is not a typical French holiday and some people still don’t understand what is being celebrated. Because Halloween is seen as an American celebration, some French people refuse to enjoy it, having decided to include it in their anti-American boycott.

An article in the New York Times on Oct. 25, explains a little more about the observance of Alowine in France, and the ever-changing attitude about the holiday.

One American who moved to France for a year with his family, said that Halloween exists in France but not in any way recognized by most Americans — no pumpkins and no candy or trick-or-treating. He threw an American party for his children’s friends so they could experience the holiday as he thought it should be.

Today, Halloween in France is celebrated more readily in an Americanized fashion. On Oct. 31, French teenagers go to McDonald’s and visit Disneyland Paris because of their iconic American images.

A 2000 story from CNN explains that France had embraced the European roots of Halloween, but a 2006 story in Forbes declares Halloween dead. No word on whether it’s a holiday that will be well-celebrated in France this year. Some retailers in the U.S. don’t expect such a profitable Halloween season this year because of the economic downturn.

How are you celebrating Halloween this year?