Monday, November 1, 2010

Our Halloween in Poland – The Positives and The Negatives

autumn 2010 145Halloween has come and gone. I wonder how long we can leave up our Halloween decorations before someone complains. I’ll give it until Wednesday.

Halloween, if I am well-informed, started as a pagan holiday in Europe and pre-dates Christianity. The original purpose of Halloween was to scare off bad spirits and ghosts. This holiday is celebrated in quite a few countries around the world and travelled to America with immigrants from Europe. Of course, now it is just fun and games with kids dressing up and going door-to-door collecting candy.

This is my take on Halloween in Poland. It is not a Polish holiday. I have no desire to Halloween-ize Poland. We celebrate Halloween in our family because I want to share a little bit of my American childhood with my children. Some people in Poland like Halloween and have started celebrating it with their children. It  is usually a dress-up party without the trick-or-treating part. For adults, bars and restaurants have themed parties starting as much as one week before Halloween. A lot of people are indifferent to the whole thing and some others are against the idea of autumn 2010 138Halloween in Poland. Maybe it it because of Halloween’s  proximity to the holiday of All Saints Day.

My opinion is that these two holidays can live side-by-side. I went to Catholic school in the States and we still had a Halloween party every year at school. OK, Halloween is one day before All Saints Day. So what? That doesn’t make Halloween any less fun nor does it make All Saints Day any less sincere. Please excuse my bluntness but sitting solemnly at home or at graveside does not make your loved ones any less dead and having a dress-up party with kids doesn’t make them any more dead.

Halloween is not the enemy.

First, the positives -

autumn 2010 124We gave a lovely lesson about Halloween to Lizzie’s Pre-school class. We asked the kids what they knew about Halloween which was quite a lot actually. They even knew how to say “trick or treat” in English. We explained that we celebrate this holiday in our family because it is an American tradition and that I am American. Then Misiu read a book about Corduroy Bear and the best Halloween ever or something like that. The kids were enthralled. At the end of the lesson, we decorated paper autumn 2010 133plates as little jack-o’-lanterns. The best and most unexpected part for us was that the kids and teachers dressed up just for our lesson. There were a lot of princesses, ghosts, witches, a batman, a pumpkin and only one rock star (our Lizzie).

autumn 2010 159We also had a Halloween party at home. We decorated and cooked and dressed up and like last year informed the neighbors of our trick-or-treating plans. And just like last year only a few neighbors decided to participate (many people were out of town as well) and those that did participate really rocked. Thank you neighbors!!! The kids had a lot of fun, and I could feel almost like at home. This morning our little sweeties keep checking what they’ve got in their trick-or-treat bags. It is so cute.

autumn 2010 169

autumn 2010 171We have a rock star (Lizzie), a butterfly (Rosie), Scooby Doo (a guest) and a Knight (that’s me).

Now, the negatives –

All went as planned at our party, but unfortunately some of our friends got sick and couldn’t come to our Halloween party. I got sick too, but that’s beside the point. The show must go on!

Regarding our lesson at school, all went as planned there too, but unfortunately not everyone liked the idea of our Halloween lesson. It wasn’t our idea to teach a lesson at school. Parents were asked by the classroom teachers to volunteer some time this year. Lizzie was thrilled when we decided to come to her class. Now the negative…Despite the fact that our presentation of Halloween at Pre-school was prefaced with the information that we wanted to present something from our culture (I guess I should say my culture), one family decided to remove their child from school for our lesson with the statement that “we do not celebrate such a holiday”.  Now, come on. If my kid has to sit under your crucifix all day long, your kid can survive one Halloween arts and crafts project. Jeeezzzzz! Lighten up!

PS1 Kielbasa Stories has some new followers. Welcome janiluap and porcelanowy blog. Thanks for joining us and thanks for reading!

PS2 When you buy a new fridge the week before Halloween, you have a lot of material for making Halloween decorations.

BOO!

15 comments:

Stardust said...

Chris, you asking for impossible:) Most Poles don't know how to lighten up, is against their religion:)) Not kosher. But the bright side of it is that not all of them are so bend out of shape. There are lots of good Poles with good sense of humore.. but what am I talking about? You know them, otherwise, you wouldn't be able to live there:) Happy Halloween!!!!
Boooooooooooo :))))

Stardust said...

Where the hell did I got the "e" from in humor? Must be the ghost :))

AnetaCuse said...

Here is another positive for you: only ONE family removed their child from your lesson :P. There is always a party pooper no matter where you live.

Kasia said...

Stardust is right: Poles are miserable and love to be unhappy and show to the world how unhappy they are. And anyways - they've forgotten that Hallowe'en is very similar to our Slavic tradition of Dziady. I guess they haven't read Mickiewicz at school. All the traditions of visiting the graves, decorating them with flowers and lighting the candles are even more Pagan than Hallowe'en (cause it's quite possible that the name comes from All Hallows Eve - and All Saints are Christian, whereas Dziady are not). I think it's nice when people combine Hallowe'en with Slavic traditions. Those parents in your girls' school are just daft and disrespectful.

Anna said...

@Kasia - oh, the Poiles have read Dziady, only don't want to remember it, as it was a nightmare (unles somebody had really good Polish / Lit. teacher, which is quite unusual).

As for me, I like Halloween. We had a pumpkin on the porch and first time ever, some kids came and shouted "cukierek albo psikus!". Awesome.

We also had a party with our neighbors - no dressing up, but I arranged the menu so that everything was orange-y in color.

Kasia said...

Chris - thank you for this post! You are absolutely right. It is a very nice American tradition.
Before Halloween I received an email from a Polish friend "warning me" that it was a bad holiday, not good for Catholics, that it promotes worshiping of the devil etc, etc. I got very mad about that email. I am catholic, but I know for sure that my 7-year old has no idea about worshiping devil and he just wants to dress up, have fun with his friends and get candy. And I think Polish priests who spread this type of propaganda are insane.
Also - I thought I learned long time ago that All saints is not really a sad holiday because we are supposed to rejoice all the people who made it to heaven.
Kasia from Houston

resvaria.net said...

Hi there, boo:)
It is both funny and pathetic, or should I say funny in a pathetic way, perhaps? Some Poles are sooo miserable... Some folks who cannot get over a few costumes and spooky tricks are probably the same people who buy these two foot tall candles with Holy Virgin painting or nice kitchy angel sculpture on them. Just to show their neighbours that they really really do care about their dead ones:) So much so, that they don't mind blowing a few hundred zlotys in the wind. If it ain't pagan and occult I don't know what it is:) A nice selection here:
http://allegro.pl/znicze-figurki-aniolki-ozdoby-znicz-produce-i1286500386.html

MarekFloryda said...

And I cannot stand Halloween! Yes, I am OK with little 2-3 year old kids dressed up as bees, knocking on my door and politely waiting for me to give them some treats. With their gorgeous moms standing in the background and waving at me. But these crazy teenagers... Ruining my grass, taking more than one piece and not even trying to be nice or at least scary. Just give me the damn sweets!

We had over 75 kids yesterday. I was out of jelly body parts, out of Mars, Twix, Snickers and other junk - I had to give away my supply of Krowka Milanowska :(

Chris said...

Hello everyone! I had to hide the girls Halloween bags because yesterday they ate nothing but candy. Oh well, I guess that is part of the fun too.

It seems the general consensus is that some people need to lighten up. Aneta, you really put it into perspective - only one family bowed out of our lesson. It could have been more. For me (and many of you) Halloween is so harmless that I hadn't even considered the possibility that someone would be against our lesson. Live and learn.

Stardust - Do kids come to the doors in NYC or are they too sophisticated for something like that?

Kasia - I'm going to use the Dziady defense if anyone starts attacking my beloved Halloween.

Anna - Your 1st Halloween with trick-or-treaters? How nice. But like MarekFloryda said it is nice when sweet little kids (with hot moms) ring your bell but not surly teens. Marek, I have a rule, no costume, no candy and "surly teenager" is NOT a costume.

Kasia from Houston - You know what is really scary about Halloween? When people that you think are otherwise normal send you emails warning you that Halloween is a cover for Satanism.

resvaria - Have you heard that we are going to have the largest Jesus statue in the world? What do you think about that?

MarekFloryda - You gave out the good stuff - that's why your house was so popular. We too gave out Mars and Twix and Krówki!

Stardust said...

Halloween in my neighborhood is not as it used to be:( Few years ago I would sit in front of the house, not having a chance to go back inside, and just keep giving a candy away. And now somehow the tradicion moved to... Poland?? There were a few kids, small one but not enough:))
Yeah I heard about that biggest Christ statue in a world:))))))))))))) Can't wait to see it. Maybe I should book the flight before it becomes to expensive;))

tranikowa said...

I think that the decoration of your front door was fantastic. If I was your neighbor, it would make me smile. I think it is important to celebrate your own tradition even if the rest doesn't celebrate. Today is my name's day, and I will celebrate. I also celebrate my husbands's imieniny (even though he is English).

Chris said...

tranikowa - I agree. I mean, I want my kids to get a taste of my culture too. Next on my list is Thanksgiving :)

Happy imieniny!

Bill said...

The whole part of kids eating candy for Halloween isn't the healthiest but at least people have fun.

Michal Twojastara said...

"Now, come on. If my kid has to sit under your crucifix.(...)"

Your kid come to US not the opposite. I would remove my child too because true Poles guard our traditions and language with there lives. We fokin VANISHED from the world map 3 times because fokin germans and rusians wanted to change ALL our traditions and even language to theirs and we NEVER forget about that.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Partitions_of_Poland

We are angry if someone try to CHANGE oor Święto zmarłych to Halloween or anything ours.

I know, my english need to be improved but i hope u understand me.

Chris said...

Michał- Don't worry about your English. Nobody's perfect and it's good enough to be understood. One thing, my kids are Polish. They are born and raised in Poland. Polish is their native language. However, they are also American from me, and I'd like to share my culture with them. Let's remember that Polish public schools are often operated as basically Catholic schools. My point was that if my children have to make accommodations for all the religious events that go on in their school, then I think a short English lesson about a holiday celebrated in an English-speaking country is not a lot to ask. The children were not asked to celebrate it. Additionally they had a lesson on the British Guy Fawke's Day. That's what happens in foreign language classes. You learn about important holidays of that culture.

I am aware of Polish history and that Poles are sensitive to cultural creep (when another culture's traditions gradually join yours). However, I am not forcing people to celebrate Halloween. Additionally I attended private Catholic school and all the priests and nuns dressed up in funny costumes. I'm just saying that on the 31st we had Halloween and on the 1st All Saints' Day and on the 2nd All Souls' Day...in the US.