The scrooge of Halloween
Take that, America, you will not colonise my family!
Okay, so I hate Halloween. Not in a lazy sort of a way. I hate it actively. I campaign against it in my own small way. I have even set up a small trust fund into which I pay monies my children can one day use to pay for the therapy sessions in which they discuss how their mother – rabid with principle at times – would deny them the simple pleasure of trick and treating on the last day of October.
I love hating Halloween. I have spurned general and specific resentment, am done with the righteous indignation of youth, find anger exhausting and often pointless unless it is precise, well-thought out and wielded like a surgeon’s laser. But my path to guru-dom would be so glum if I couldn’t seethe at some things. So Halloween it is.
I don’t have a problem with the pagan nature of Halloween, as some do. I’m all for paganism. I’m even for mainstream religious stuff, as long as its aim is not to sweep me into its exclusive arms, or harm anyone (though that is seldom the case).
What I have a problem with is that it is new. Yes, I know it’s not newnew. It’s just new here. I don’t celebrate Anzac Day, or Bastille Day, or Guy Fawkes, or Independence Day, so why should I celebrate an end-of-summer ritual the Celts began thousands of years ago when I have not an ounce of Celtic blood in my veins, and summer’s just beginning.
American cultural imperialism
I’ll tell you why I am expected to put up with costumes and elaborate arrangements for going trick and treating: it’s because of American cultural imperialism. And this is where I stand my ground. Americans are fully entitled to celebrate Halloween with the gusto and enthusiasm they do. Wipe yourselves out with pumpkin pie and ghouls, say I. Whatever blows your star-spangled skirts up.
But when the spectre of Halloween first raised its rude, insistent head in my children’s lives I – after marvelling at why these enthusiastic Seffrican parents didn’t also get quite as caught up in Eid or Diwali, which have similarly fun aspects for children – made my resistance clear. I will not bend one degree to accommodate Halloween in my life. I will, however, bend in the opposite direction to resist it.
It takes some serious muscle though. It requires the will to explain my stand against rampant consumerism and galling imperialism to all the parents who are always saying to me “ag, it’s just a bit of fun for the kids”. And it takes colossal creative thinking to explain to the kids that Halloween is the apparently innocuous face of those two troublesome –isms.
While the children are welcome to take part in Halloween with their friends, they understand now that I am not to be drawn into arrangements or the untying of any purse strings. I will not buy Halloween make-up or cut holes in sheets for little ghosts. I will not buy sweets for trick or treaters. I will not trawl the streets of my suburb with a small band of monsters to inflict Halloween on others. I will not spend one cent or one kilojoule on Halloween.
Except, of course, that I spend every October defending my position to long-faced children and parents of the children’s friend. At the end of the month I feel like I require my own little festival of the dead souls just to toast my own tenacity.
I am the scrooge of Halloween. My pointless little battle enlivens me, as lost causes often do.
Is American cultural imperialism a problem?
Read more by Karin Schimke