Although Halloween is probably a pagan festival, celebration in Germany ceased for a few thousand years.
When my children were young, the decided to institute American practices on our street. They dressed in costume and went out to ring bells to demand candy. As you can imagine, they were met with reactions ranging from mild amusement to outright anger at being disturbed. Despite this, they did not lose hope and tried again each year, with a the occasional success of someone recalling them from the previous year.
Since then, marketing companies have used their usual sledge-hammer tactics to introduce something my kids pioneered.
This year, the carved a pumpkin and planned to give it to my daughter. I changed my mind. I placed this piece o art on a tree stump outside the kitchen window and light a candle each night. The view helps me to get into the spirit of something I will not celebrate...
In case you haven’t noticed the gaudy displays enticing people to buy decorations, costumed (see below), and sweets, today is Halloween. It’s a pagan thing that has evolved into a marketing thing. It might be the night before a religious day—All Saints, for you uninitiated—which has evolved from another pagan thing...like Christmas.
Anyway, Halloween was never celebrated or even noticed in Germany until recently. Like all cultural decline associated with consumer marketing in this country, this thing crept in from the United States. Then again, my children may be partly to blame.
Being one half American, from a young age they knew about Halloween and the sweet bounty that could be harvested on the day. Many years ago, when they were still young, no one had heard of Halloween, and costumes were worn only for Fasching, they rang doorbells in the neighborhood. Of course, if anyone opened and did not slam the door in their faces, they were forced to explain their presence and the concept of Halloween (this was before Powerpoint), and then wait patiently—if the person was inclined to search the house for leftover chocolate. It was tough work for a kid, but pioneers everywhere must suffer when treading uncharted territory. Today, kids have it easier, thanks to the spread of cable television, supermarkets, and marketing budgets.
Of course, I must suffer constant disturbance of the doorbell ringing. It’s a pain, but at least I do not have to listen to a speech on the concept of Halloween. I merely hold out a tray with sweets and let them grab a handful. Unlike with my children, I do not care about their teeth...
Prior to writing novels, the author enjoyed a multifaceted career: from decorated combat aviator to advertising professional to global communications director of a major consumer brand. He has traveled the world and met sports, film and television stars, political leaders, and royalty. He graduated from Middlebury College, is married, lives in Germany, and has two grown children.