As I’ve said before, American culture is an airborne virus. For whatever the psychological reasons are, more often than not traditional cultures far and wide end up being no match for any of the United States’ various media exports or cultural mores. The proverbial Yankee blue jeans have are well traveled and tend to trample anything that gets in their way.

Unfortunately, the old adage of out with the old and in with the new usually spells doom for many peoples culture. Though some would say that they are trading up and are exposed to more and better choices, not everyone in the world is thrilled about losing their cultural identity for an American-made pre-fab identity.

Halloween is no different. All Hallows Eve is celebrated the world over in a number of different ways that are specific to that countries history and environment. However, despite all of the variations in which this holiday is celebrated, is per usual, the American way is pushing all others out of the way and winning cultural market supremacy.

In one of the more odd stories out there, many young people this weekend gathered in Novopushkinsky Park, which is in the center of Moscow, Russia to protest the celebration of Halloween.

The protesters were holding a banner depicting a slashed pumpkin. In addition, attendees were invited to write about their attitude toward Halloween with a marker on two signboards and to drink pumpkin juice. The organizers said they wished to suggest that “pumpkin should be used directly according to its purpose rather than be turned into a symbol of a disgusting pagan festival.”

“Modern mass culture imposes false symbols on young people. Satanic and pagan in their essence, they are actively used as brands for luring adolescents to clubs to take part in seemingly innocent parties, at which they are offered a pill or a joint to have more fun,” says a leaflet by the youth movement Georgiyevtsy, the organizer of the protest.

One of the picket organizers told Interfax that, despite the fact that Halloween is formally observed on October 31, its celebrations will begin this Saturday, a day that is traditionally considered one of the most lucrative for nightclubs, which “are especially closely associated with the distribution of illicit drugs.”

“We are against the narcotization of youth culture. We support a healthy lifestyle,” he said. (Source)

It’s not all protests and anger out there for our familiar dark holiday. In some cases, there are people who are just fine with celebrating Halloween but are lamenting the loss of their own cultures way of dealing it.

For example in Scotland, ”The days when glowing turnip lanterns grinned out from the windows of Scottish homes on Halloween are becoming a thing of the past as new figures show pumpkin sales are at their highest ever.

The bright orange vegetable is traditionally used in the United States and Canada to make jack-o’-lanterns – which are placed at windows or on doorsteps as a sign that trick or treaters are welcome.

But Britons have embraced this American import and sales of pumpkins are expected to reach 2.2 million this year, compared with 2 million in 2005…But along with pumpkins, the American tradition for trick-or-treating has come to dominate the evening along with the rising popularity of US-style Halloween celebrations in Britain.

The days when children went out guising, dressed as a ghost flitting from door to door, singing songs or telling jokes in return for a handful of sweets or an apple, are in decline.

Nowadays, trick-or-treaters expect to be given sweets or gifts by householders in return for a promise not to bombard their homes with eggs or toilet roll.” (Source)

In China, there’s a dispute over which kinds of ghosts people should be dressing up as; traditional ones or American ghosts. ”There is even a tug-of-war in cyberspace between supporters of Western ghosts in black cloaks, and fans of Chinese ones who stick out their long tongues. The latter group is calling for a revival of local ghosts as foreign ones begin to take over.

“There is a ‘ghost festival’ in China that is more than two thousand years old,” one claimed at the popular online forum Tianya.com. “These ‘expat ghosts’ are not going to be the winners who take all.”” (Source)

But the irony of all ironies is that while we are exporting culture across the globe, we are paying for others to make our own culture with cheap foreign labor. “Millions of young Americans will celebrate Halloween this year decked out in masks and costumes furnished by — shock and horror — a French company that relies on cheap Chinese labour.

Cesar, founded in 1842, is the world leader for party costumes and outfit accessories such as the masks and wigs that are de rigeur for any self-respecting child on a trick or treat outing. Through its US division Disguise, Cesar provides one-third of all the Halloween get-ups sold in the United States. And it’s not just child’s play — 40 percent of all costumes are bought by adults.” (Source)

I’m not the world’s biggest fan of Halloween by far but it would appear my dislike for a holiday that has long since lost any of its real significance puts me in the minority. Between the act of trick-or-treating or American movies that focus on the horror or slasher genre, Halloween is a permanent phenomenon in the lexicon of global celebrations, whatever their particular stripe should be.

Happy Halloween everyone!

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