Cultures have always merged following a specific dynamic: the dominant ones swallow the weak ones, slowly eroding their patrimony of traditions, customs and language. In this process what is not absorbed by the prevailing civilization is inevitably swept away. This question has bewildered my students, particularly when I made them notice that nowadays our Italian culture cannot actually be regarded “dominant”, especially if we think of how easily we yield to the Anglo-saxon cultural and linguistic fascination, in fact in this country we are always ready to absorb foreign words, habits, even their food, as if we were sponges. This is a distinctive mark of cultural weakness and we cannot escape this truth. Disbelief, disappointment, denial is what I mostly read on their faces, they didn’t want to feel neither weak nor loser. I could understand them. “After all tomorrow is another day” and “tomorrow” was Halloween. When I met my students, they were all thrilled and busy at organizing the usual parties or joyfully threatening their mates with the classic “trick or treat”. They had come to school with the typical nightmarish costumes, masks, witch hats and wigs and in the evening they had already posted their pictures on Facebook proudly dressed up as beautiful sexy pumpkins or showing their worst horrific looks. They were having fun, for sure, but at the same time, they were unconsciously displaying their cultural subordination. As a matter of fact, at these latitudes, we have learnt the existence of a celebration named Halloween only recently, mostly thanks to the American movies, videos etc. and after few years it has already become part of our customs. You see, it happens slowly and one day you wake up dressed up as a pumpkin without even knowing why. Oh but,  sorry I need to hurry, it will be Thanksgiving soon and I have to go for a big, fat turkey! 😉


6 thoughts on “Halloweak

  1. People’s believes are more important than yours expressed consciouslessly. Somehow “we” measure our satisfaction and our popularity upon the metre either of how many trends we follow or how much we are spotlighted, pointed out and “unique”.
    As a matter of fact the more we keep on following others’ dogmas the more we will be delaying our achievement of one of the most important values ever existing: happiness.
    Big deal, considering that there’s a point in our lives where even time stops. So eventually the aforesaid achievement would stumble on and it would fall down into void. Alas ! we have been measuring our truly happiness upon some canons given by society, and we accepted them unwillingly, because we fear what others think about us. Nonetheless we must accept that, because we do not want to be spotlighted but at the same time we want to be the ‘one-of-the-kind’. It all does not make sense.
    Let me give you an example that might clarify my opinion. Bear in mind the movie “into the wild”. Christopher McCandless, the main character, had undergone a short-term voyage as to find the real himself. During his “queste” he decided to change his name into Alexander Supertrump as to be better objective about his purpose. Then as he was about to die he abhorred his false name deeming the real one as the truest, ontologically. Unsuccesfully he did not manage to end his travel and he pathetically died.
    So, we just do not accept to cope with our real beliefs and needs; we underestimate our potential being by embodying a disguise that we think it is us but it is not.
    Somewhat we do not even make possible the pursuit of happiness. We feel comfortable and confident in our laid-back life, full of certainties, watching the world without really observing it. “People talking without speaking, people hearing without listening”. Ghosts wandering in the sea in unsteady vessels, imbued with the certainty that they will reach a safe shore.
    I have been living in this world for so long time. It was all about innocence. I have decided to crush it and build up a new world, which corresponds to a new self consciousness. I wish I could cherish it as long as possible, bearing in mind that ” è bello ritornar ‘normalità’, è facile tornare con le tante stanche pecore bianche; scusate, non mi lego a questa schiera: morrò pecora nera!”.
    I will no longer consider myself as “we” because it is me that has its own impact upon each “me”, outside my mind and my body, and only by that way it will be about a unity.
    Let’s everyone provide their contribute. Let’s get up from the sofa and set off and track your own path, which is univocally different from others’, and be conscious about the pros and cons you will be getting through, analyse everything.
    Finally is all about being a white sheep, which follows the herd, or a black sheep. It is up to you!

    • Only one thing, I wouldn’t regard “happiness” as a value. It is a transient state of our soul. Remember, you cannot be happy every single day of you life, one out of ten would be just fine. “Happiness only real when shared”, even dressed up as a pumpkin 😉

  2. I remember at the primary school I was acquainted with Jack ‘o Lantern and did not know who Garibaldi was, who maybe could have fascinated me more, for the simple fact that he was ITALIAN!

  3. It could be argued that “Hallowe’en” originates from a Celtic source, the festival of Samhain rather than Anglo-Saxon. As a child it was a time for traditional games and ghost stories but has now become over-commercialized and “organized” in a way: by this I mean that there seems to be a set of things everyone does, notably, Trick or Treating, buying costumes from shops rather than making them, etc. For me, there is still a sense of awe and mystery as we enter the darker nights of winter but the commercial aspect has altered the dynamic of the tradition.

  4. Here in the UK it’s not Anglo-Saxon homogenisation that threatens indigenous British culture but Americanisation. So it’s a bit ironic that the US custom of trick-or-treating is essentially a development of the Mischief Night tradition from northern England where kids dressed up as the spirits of the community’s departed and demanded ‘soul cakes’ in return for not haunting the living. This is in fact part of a pan-European Catholic tradition related to All Hallows or All Saints (Ognissanti in Italy) and ultimately related, as kozmikfish says, to the agricultural calendar.

    So, in a way, I don’t mind the seasonal aspect of it but I dislike the blatant commercialisation and associated greed, along with the urbanisation of older traditions that now just lumps together zombies, witches, werewolves, Dracula and the rest in an incomprehensible mess.

    The only way to counter such mindless developments is to locally encourage any surviving traditions: a quick search online suggest an outline of how to celebrate Ognissanti —
    a traditional harvest feast on All Hallow’s Eve with unfermented wine from the year’s harvest and roasted chestnuts followed by hiding presents around the house for the children as if from the souls of the deceased family members. In Catholic Italy a visit to the cemetery to decorate family graves with flowers follows Mass. On the next day an All Souls Feast can include ‘Soul Food’ made from peas or lentils, with empty places left for relatives’ souls. In addition many towns in northern and central Italy are apparently host to truffle and chestnut fairs the first week of November (http://www.ehow.com/how_2064993_celebrate-all-saints-day-italy.html).

    Read more: http://www.ehow.com/how_2064993_celebrate-all-saints-day-italy.html#ixzz2ll7OkQyi

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