Monday, October 31, 2016

What Halloween Teaches is Why Some Russian Reactionaries Want to Ban It, Blogger Says

Paul Goble

            Staunton, October 31 – This year as every recent year, some in the Russian Orthodox Church as well as other self-proclaimed defenders of Russia and its culture are demanding that Halloween be banned as “a cult of death and Satan” and even insisting that the Russian state take this step; but that would be a mistake, according to Ilya Varlamov.

            The Russian blogger says that it is time to respond, “Hands Off Halloween!” because this is an important holiday, one that is “not only happy but also useful,” perhaps especially because the messages it sends are exactly those that the obscurantists and reactionaries in the Russian church and society don’t want disseminated (

            Drawing on a recent article, unnamed, in a British journal, Varlamov argues that there are six reasons to view Halloween as something extremely positive.  He gives six reasons for that conclusion:

1.      “Halloween unites people.” In many countries, people don’t know their neighbors; but Halloween provides an opportunity for them to meet and socialize, developing social ties that they might not otherwise have.

2.      “Halloween teaches people how to receive and how to give.”  Children who collect candy and share it with their friends and relatives learn something important. “In daily life, they do not take candy from strangers, but Halloween gives them the chance to be a little braver. Moreover, it is a good occasion to remind them about manners, to teach them to be polite and to say thanks.”

3.      “Halloween is useful stress.” Stress in small amounts can be useful and help people function better and be able to forget for a time their daily routine and “feel a taste for life.”

4.      “On Halloween, you can become whomever you like.” Halloween gives children the chance to dress up as various figures, including evil ones, and thus to get a chance to “investigate what it means to be bad. It is certainly better that this occurs during Halloween games than in daily life.”

5.      “Halloween shows that death isn’t terrible.” Varlamov notes that “the overwhelming number of people are afraid of death. But Halloween transforms it into a game and helps them avoid this sacred fear.” And to the extent that it does so in both adults and children, it provides a good occasion for people to reflect about their own lives and how better to lead them.

6.      “Halloween is a lot of candy.”  That is good in itself, the Russian blogger says, especially if it is good candy.

            For all these reasons and others besides, he says, those who don’t like Halloween should relax and realize that it is simply a happy holiday and there is nothing wrong with one of those.

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