“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?
7 Comments Add yours
love the post 🙂
Great costumes and LOVE the finger food! 🙂 Hallowe’en is spreading to us as well, which I find silly, because we have NO tradition of celebrating this… We have our own weird traditions, like Lucia and the Midsummer’s Eve fest. I don’t know how ridiculed they might be by others, but I am glad to see them celebrated as joyously as ever. 🙂
My sister once participated in a midsummer festival in Sweden. She absolutely loved it! ….and gave me a re-enactment of the whole thing after she got home, including singing funny songs (in what sounded like fairly convincing Swedish to me!)
I guess this priest was trying to teach catechism to this child in an “old fashioned” way, but his message is probably that this time in Italy (1st-2nd November) is a time of prayer and reflection for honoring the Saints and remembering our recently departed, and is not a time of fun in the Catholic tradition and customs. You wouldn’t dress up in fancy dress and walk around like zombies on Remembrance Sunday in the UK? I think people would take offence… Halloween has never been an Italian tradition, it’s an import from US/UK of recent years and it’s been commercially exploited in Italy.
I read that all this dressing up and fooling about for Halloween was invented by the Catholics in the first place, in an attempt to stop the recently-converted Christians of Great Britain and Ireland from celebrating their old Celtic festival of Samhain, which was part of the Druidic religion and therefore not approved of.
There’s a very interesting history of how the origins of all saints all souls and Halloween are all intertwined here
The Protestants actually banned Halloween in England because it was a Catholic festival. It was not celebrated by the early Protestant Pilgrims in America. It was the Irish Catholics who later brought it to America and this led to its revival in England.
yes I did read up about how they are all intertwined. Interesting how festivals and religions end up developing and evolving in certain countries and cultures, and not in others.
Great Finger food 🙂