1. I donâ€™t like Halloween. When we moved to Germany, I was looking forward to spending a couple years without interference from the least export-worthy American holiday celebration I can imagine.
2. Since I was last here, Halloween has been exported to Germany. It’s become especially popular as an occasion for teenage parties, but trick-or-treating has become more vigorous in some places than in some American neighborhoods we’ve lived in. Since Christmas items appear in the grocery stores here in mid-September, this puts commemorations of the Nativity and Bosch’s Garden of Earthly Delights on the same or neighboring aisles for a month or more.
3. A neighbor child was shocked that our children like Halloween. Maybe dressing up as police officers or cowboys would be OK, he said, but monsters and devils were just plain devilish. The neighbor child resolved not to play with our children again if they dressed up like monsters. (The same child spent a day home from school last week for a prank fire alarm–requiring not just pulling a lever, but also breaking the glass plate in front of it–and once plugged our sink with a combination of paper and clay that required disassembling all the pipes from the U-bend back to the wall, so we take the threat with a measure of equanimity.)
4. The young women in the ward wanted to throw a Halloween party. In the U.S., we’ve had time to work out standards of taste for celebrating Halloween at church. Cute animal costumes and apple bobbing are in, imitations of gross deformity is out, etc. What Germans have imported from the U.S. Halloween celebration, however, is an opportunity to indulge in the macabre. Thus the decorations featured animatronic amputated limbs (specially imported from the U.S.) and other notable items that no right-thinking person of good taste and common sense would approve of, but which, when you get right down to it, are kinda cool. (Our children came dressed as two cats, a knight, and a vampire. The neighbor child was not invited.)
5. As much as it pains me to say it, the Halloween party was a great success. Lots of kids and teenagers came who don’t always make it on Sundays. Another advantage is that today is All Saints Day, a public holiday, so keeping the kids out late wasn’t a problem. I told everyone who would listen that they really should hold a Halloween party again next year. The world of imported and assimilated European-American pagan-Christian holidays is an odd one, but we might as well use it to our advantage.