Halloween – custom, fashion trend or just money-making?

The country of origin of Halloween is Ireland

Halloween originated in Ireland and has been one of the most important holidays of the year there for centuries. This custom was carried by Irish emigrants to other countries and is also celebrated there, such as in the USA. In Germany, Halloween has never played a role. Here Halloween was introduced only about thirty years ago, more or less as a substitute event for a fancy carnival season. So there is no trace of tradition and customs in this country.

Most people in Germany associate Halloween with pumpkin carving, creepy disguises, fancy parties, and parading around the houses in groups demanding candy. Everything seems somehow grafted on, artificially staged, without any real tradition or (religious) lore, without any historical or political background that is significant for Germany – simply a “custom festival” without any historical origins.

Spend a lot of money on scary

Nevertheless, there are two interest groups that push Halloween in Germany: The industry and the party-loving community. The industry, because a lot of money can be made with Halloween products – from wine gums in pumpkin look to all kinds of decorations and party articles to masks and costumes. And the party-loving society, because Halloween is another date in the calendar when you can really let out the familiar female pet.

Oh yes, there is a third group for whom Halloween is becoming increasingly important: The kids. Of course, they don’t care about customs or tradition, they just take whatever comes along. The main thing is exciting, spooky, varied, dress up, scare and at the end of the day, with a little luck, you go home with a bag of candy.

Halloween costume

Childhood celebrations with real tradition

Which celebrations of your childhood do you still remember? Do you still belong to the age group where Easter and Christmas, as well as your own birthday, were the highest celebrations of the year? Or did you also have Halloween? And if so, did you celebrate it with them?  Did you still play cowboys and Indians, cops and robbers, witches and wizards? With self-made headdresses, bows and arrows made of branches from the forest and a self-carved shotgun? Or are you already part of the generation that bought a new Halloween costume every year, had Halloween parties in kindergarten and school, and went around the houses at nightfall with the battle cry “trick or treat”?

Alone against Frankenstein - scarier than any Halloween

We lived in an apartment building at the time, six families with numerous children. At that time, Halloween was not yet known in Germany at all. Nevertheless, one of the neighbor boys had an ugly Frankenstein mask with which he used to scare the children in the neighborhood every now and then. This always gave him a thieving delight, especially when the younger kids shrieked in horror. He usually pulled off the act when the respective parents were not at home.

I also had such an encounter, but I was able to turn the tables. It was on a gloomy autumn day. I was alone at home and outside it was gradually getting dark, which as a child you didn’t really like. And then I heard someone creeping through the hallway. At that time, apartment buildings were still quite light-hearted and you could hear a lot of what was happening outside your own apartment door. I had a queasy feeling when I heard these noises from outside. But then I had the idea that it could only be the neighbor’s boy, Jörg was his name, who was once again planning to scare other children. And I thought of a strategy how I could get ahead of him.

boy screaming

My eyes fell on my father’s hat and sunglasses. Bingo – that was the solution. I put on my hat and sunglasses and waited quietly behind the apartment door for something to happen. And something did. Jörg hadn’t turned on the hallway light to make the creepy scene seem even scarier, and I heard him stop at our apartment door. I was already quite excited when Jörg pressed the doorbell, waiting full of anticipation to scare someone once again. Slowly I opened the apartment door a crack, only so far that he could recognize sunglasses and hat – I had switched off also all lamps as a precaution – and said with my deepest possible voice: Yes please? I remember it like today, how he ran up the stairs – he had not counted on it and frightened himself so much that he only sought the distance. And I could only throw myself away laughing about my victory over Frankenstein.

Stories from childhood - with or without Halloween

Now you’re probably wondering how to go from a general reflection on Halloween to a story that goes back almost fifty years. Well, both had something to do with scary, albeit in a completely different context. But whether it’s Halloween or simply the distant past, life writes the best stories anyway.

Surely you also have many an exciting story to tell from your life. Especially from your childhood, when you had a completely different view of world events. When you did things that you would no longer do as an adolescent. Because they were embarrassing, dangerous, daring or just plain naughty. But with a little distance somehow also funny, very funny even. So funny that they should be recorded in a book for posterity. So that you, your children or even grandchildren can later read again what you did in your childhood.

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