Halloween is looming closer, and the usual choir of dissenters is tuning up to remind me and my countrymen that Halloween is a pagan festival and a foreign pagan festival to boot, and therefore we should abhor it.
Today somebody posted on my facebook wall a meme that reminded mi that November the First is Ognissanti (All Saints Day) and the Second is the Day of the Dead. The meme also reminded me of my roots, and closed with a patriotic call to respect our great nation (to wit, Italy).
To which I say, screw that.
I still remember the stories my grandmother told, of coming home from the ball (yes, the ball, on All Saints Night, and being scared witless by her brother and his frinds – who had lit a candle inside a carved pumpkin and placed it strategically along the path she and her friends were following to get back home late at night. And this not in some Anglo-Saxon settlement somewhere, but here in the mountains of Northwestern Italy.
In the 1920s.
There was even a poem, about Halloween nights in our coutryside – of which I can only remember the recurrent chorus…
La luna fa chiaro
la Morte Cammina
Non hai paura
The Moon is bright
Death is at large
Aren’t you scared
What the defenders of our traditions seem to forget is… ehm, our traditions.
Which is not strange – All Saints (or All Souls) as an occasion for revelry was mostly a country thing.
In big cities they had Carnival to dress up and prank each other.
As for the celebrations being of pagan origin, well, most of our celebrations are of pagan origin – including the Saturnalia and Winter Solstice celebrations or, as traditionalists prefer to call’em, Christmas.
In the end, if it’s just an opportunity for some fun, and for children to eat lots of candies, why go all fundamentalist on them?