“My priest said that if I go to a Hallowe’en party I’ll end up in Hell” I was told by a 10-year-old Sicilian girl yesterday.
I was helping her put on her ghost costume and apply white make-up to her face, in preparation for the Hallowe’en party that her mother and I were hosting together.
“Isn’t that just silly?” she asked me, asphyxiating me in a dense cloud of talcum powder. I could not breathe well enough to answer her.
Meanwhile my husband reported that a colleague of his was participating in a “Prayer Marathon” with a group from his church, to protect all good Catholics from those who invoke demons and worship the devil through their wicked Hallowe’en festivities. I could just picture the rosary beads flailing and the incense clouds billowing.
If I were living in Tibet then perhaps this level of misunderstanding might be a little more expectable. But…. Europeans? I mean, really? How is it possible there are people who don’t realise Hallowe’en is no more than a great opportunity to wear funny costumes, play games and demand free sweets from strangers? Or even some finger food?
“Did you tell your colleague we’re organising a Halloween party this year?” I asked my husband.
“No. He might have turned up at the house with an exorcist,” answered Hubby.
Exorcists are not just from horror films in Sicily. They are actually real. Some Sicilians call them to exorcise demons from their relatives whom they believe are possessed. I once taught English to a kid whose father was an exorcist. Some of the other kids had seen him in action, and said it was very frightening. It involved candles, praying and occasional extremely loud shouting from behind a closed door. But nobody had seen any heads rotating further than would be natural, apparently.
There has been talk for a while now about Europe becoming too uniform, with all the old cultural traditions melding into one general melee of commercialised blandness. I am here to say, we are not there yet!
Have you ever had some aspect of your culture ludicrously misunderstood?
Was it just funny, or really annoying?