France Celebration Of Halloween

Many countries around the world celebrate Halloween as a holiday. It is observed on the eve of All Saints’ Day, October 31, and hence has close association with this Christian holiday.

In France, Halloween is celebrated in much the same way as it is in most other countries, although it is not one of its traditional holidays. For example, the French also do these famous activities during Halloween:

• They attend costume parties, wearing costumes associated with the occasion.

• Children go trick-or-treating in Halloween costumes from house to house.

• People make jack-o’-lanterns (carved pumpkins).

• They go on ghost tours or visit haunted attractions.

• People do pranks or tell scary stories.

Halloween to the French was a virtual “unknown” until foreign influence (mostly from tourists and foreigners residing in France) slowly opened the eyes and minds of the French toward it. And as the French started to become familiar with Halloween little by little because of said foreign influence, extensive corporate marketing accelerated their understanding of it.

Here are some examples of how Halloween was (and still is) actively marketed into the French consciousness:

• A restaurant-bar in Paris is said to be the first such establishment in France to celebrate Halloween. This was in 1982. The owners, at first, had to make their customers understand what the celebration was all about. It took about 13 years (i.e., 13 celebrations) for the bar’s customers to become fully cognizant of Halloween.

• The owners of the Masked Museum, which is located in the merged municipalities of Saint-Hilaire and Saint-Florent, began expanding the reach of Halloween in France a year after they opened the museum in 1992.

• Confiseries (candy stores) and pastry shops decorate their counters and windows with things associated with Halloween; products here are ladled with icing in the two colors the occasion is noted for – black and orange.

• Giant companies and big businesses use Halloween symbols and images in their advertisements and marketing campaigns whenever the occasion is nearing.

Today, people in France – young and old alike – attend Halloween costume parties. They wear scary costumes, such as those that make them look like a ghost, vampire, mummy, or a witch. This is one aspect in which France may be a little different in its celebration of Halloween from, say, the United States, where nonscary costumes (cartoon characters or superheroes, for example) are the preferred “disguises”.

The idea of celebrating Halloween in a rather commercialized atmosphere is something that some people in France do not really appreciate. Some, in fact, are still not fully aware what exactly is being celebrated when the day comes. The reason for this is that the predominant religion in France is Roman Catholicism, and Halloween is not an occasion recognized by the Roman Catholic Church.

Still, many French, for hundreds of years, have already been observing Halloween in traditional ways the day is celebrated – visiting cemeteries and decorating the graves of their deceased relatives and friends, attending special church services, and honoring Saints. Of course, such celebration of Halloween in France coincides with the observance of La Toussaint (All Saints’ Day, November 1) and Le Jour des Morts (All Souls’ Day, November 2).

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