Polish Halloween Paradox

November 1, 2012 § 2 Comments

Photo taken by mayanais; licence.

Polish Church warned the nation of wearing costumes and having fun on Halloween. This has not been the first time. Every year, when October is coming to it’s end, bishops warn us not to let paganism from the West in.

Due to the polish tradition on the first of November people go to the cementaries to put flowers and snitches to the graves. Some of them drive the whole country to another city where some of their ancestors were buried. Streets are crowded, traffic jams appear in the places they do never appear, and on the day after police runs a campaign against drunk drivers coming back from family meetings. It’s called „Action Snitch”.

This holiday is officially called „All Saints’ Day”, but most people call it „Day of the Dead”.

Halloween is perceived as something not only foreign, but evil and pagan, especially by the people who haven’t grown up fed with american popculture. They are not entirely wrong, I must note, because Halloween is actually pagan and foreign. Just like christmass tree on Christmass, a cross as a sign of Jesus and many other things.

But the main point of this hate against Halloween is the fact that it is a happy holiday.

Polish history hasn’t been much fun since at least XVIII century, when partitions started. After regaining freedom in 1918, the country was invaded by Hitler in 1939 and, after that, practically enslaved by USSR until 1989. The most important literary era for modern Poland is still Romantism with suffering poets, national martyrdom and antemurale-christianitatis-doctrine. Our relation to the past is not so positive and merry.

Traditional polish way of spending holidays is meeting with family in serious atmosphere. Who would think of putting a costume of a vampire on and scavenging candies on the streets?

Another thing is importing holidays. Poles do celebrate Valentine’s Day, not with complete understanding of the fact that it has been imported from the West, but some people contest it. Like polish nationalists, who poster the major cities with exhortation that we should come back to our traditional ways of celebrating man-woman love – Kupala Night. It’s also pagan, it is connected with summer solstice, but it is ours, they say.

But nobody can stop Halloween spreading in Poland. Younger generations look up to the West, they want happy holidays, not all those nation-in-suffering-centered ceremonies. They want to redefine this holiday, I think. And what can be wrong in the fact that the day before cemetery-crawling they go to a club to have some fun so that the day after they don’t have to talk about the dead but about the party they went last night?


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§ 2 Responses to Polish Halloween Paradox

  • benrowef64 says:

    I would say that most young people and by this i mean under the age of 40 do not listen to what the priests say. I found it quite funny because All saints day was moved by the catholic church in the 800’s ad to be in line with european pagan festivals the same as easter.

    Saying that all the classes in the school i teach in had a halloween party and dressed up and parents didn’t mind and some were actively in favour of it.
    That being said i think the idea of an american halloween with trick or treating would be hard in towns and cities where most people live in blocks of flats. In my Block alone there are 90 flats add in the older generation not willing to participate i don’t think it will happen any time soon.

    I am having a Halloween party tonight though because it is great to take advantage of the long weekend.

    • Jarek K.O. says:

      You’re right, of course. My girlfriend lives in the suburbs, but on the day of Halloweeen she and whole her family were out. Kids, disappointed with their absence, chose to make a trick: they left a cake spiked on the wicket gate. I live in a block of flats and I have not seen any halloweeners. The more popular way to spend Halloween is going to the clubs, I think.

      And thanks for yout comment 😉

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