Europe: Trick or Treat or Ramadan Sweets?Poor Europeans: We don't believe in our own culture anymore, and our continent has become a battlefield for competing "cultural imperialisms": American and Islamic ones. I know which one I would choose, but quite a few among our chattering class seem to object less to the increasingly prominent Ramadan celebrations than to Halloween. A sign of the times? Which candies will our grandchildren be eating 50 years from now? Will it be "trick or treat" or Ramadan sweets? And which sheets will our daughters be wearing? A burka or a "Casper the ghost" costume? They sure look similar, don't they? Perhaps it's the ultimate proof that all cultures really are equal, so why care? After all, it's just another piece of cloth, isn't it?
Some Europeans Aren't Fans of Halloween
It's almost Halloween and all those ghosts, goblins, tricks and treats are giving Hans Kohler the creeps. So the mayor of Rankweil, a town near the border with Switzerland, has launched a one-man campaign disparaging Halloween as a "bad American habit" and urging families to skip it this year. "It's an American custom that's got nothing to do with our culture," Kohler wrote in letters sent out to households. By midweek, the mayors of eight neighboring villages had thrown their support behind the boycott. So had local police, annoyed with the annual Oct. 31 uptick in vandalism and mischief. Although Halloween has become increasingly popular across Europe complete with carved pumpkins, witches on broomsticks, makeshift houses of horror and costumed children rushing door to door for candy it's begun to breed a backlash. Critics see it as the epitome of crass, U.S.-style commercialism. Clerics and conservatives contend it clashes with the spirit of traditional Nov. 1 All Saints' Day remembrances. Halloween "undermines our cultural identity," complained the Rev. Giordano Frosini, a Roman Catholic theologian who serves as vicar-general in the Diocese of Pistoia near Florence, Italy. Frosini denounced the holiday as a "manifestation of neo-paganism" and an expression of American cultural supremacy. "Pumpkins show their emptiness," he said. In Sweden, even as Halloween's popularity has increased, so have views of the holiday as an "unnecessary, bad American custom," said Bodil Nildin-Wall, an expert at the Language and Folklore Institute in Uppsala.