German Halloween? Today is October 31st and on this date in many English-speaking countries Halloween is celebrated. Children go trick-or-treating, people wear gruesome (or not so gruesome) costumes and haunted houses open their doors – Halloween is about everything that is scary… more or less.
Halloween was originally a holiday of Celtic and Irish origin. The Celtic pagans believed that on this very day the borders to the spirit world would open and allow them to interact with the spirits of the dead. This was a change to contact deceased relatives and friends, but also a danger, because evil spirits were able to roam free.
The holiday moved to other countries such as the United States and Canada with Irish immigrants and became a custom there as well. But what about German Halloween? Halloween in Germany is not a traditional holiday, but a rather new phenomenon of the past 10 years or so.
Mainly because of the American influence through movies, games and products, a German Halloween has started to develop, but it is still not very wide-spread. I just went for a walk through the neighborhood and I did see a few pumpkins on doorsteps and one group of children going trick-or-treating, but it is not as big of a thing as in other countries (yet?).
My impression is that the holiday is slowly developing, though, and each year we are moving more and more towards our own kind of German Halloween. It seems that there are more and more Halloween parties and more and more Halloween products on the shelves of our stores, but these kinds of customs take time to develop, particularly when the original meaning of the holiday has been distorted. Who really thinks about talking to the spirit world on this day anymore?
What has been criticized about this annual event in Germany is therefore its commercial character and the loss of its original roots. But I’m thinking the same is true for many other holidays (say X-mas) and as long as everyone has a good time, what’s there not to like? A German Halloween is fine with me.