|Halloween in Italy picture courtesy of hotel-apartment rental service|
Cross-Pollinate / Beehive Rome
Year after year, those of us living in the Bel Paese find that Halloween, with its accompanying ghouls, ghosts, witches and zombies, gets celebrated by kids large and small. You'll now find bars, pubs and trattorias offering their own holiday festivities, even hilltown trattorie are enticing clients to come in and ghoul around...Stop in an Autogrill and you'll find those January Befane witches now riding brooms atop packages choc full of halloween candy. Mark my words: one of these days we're going to see a new sort of orange-flavored pandoro cake in the shape of a ghost at grocery stores for this newest of Italian holidays. [In fact, here's a recipe making a sort of s'more out of one...lathered in nutella and topped in marshmallows...You can't get anymore closer to and Italian Halloween treat if you tried...].
A friend posted on facebook, "What's all this talk of zombies and vampires all of a sudden? Could it be because of Halloween?" Sì, Virginia, there is a Great Pumpkin.
And every year, just like every launch of a new Harry Potter installment, the Catholic Church has to roundly condemn it, as if anyone listened to their dictates anyway. This year, a Cardinal remarked that Halloween was an entirely pagan holiday celebrating death and the macabre which did not merit any recognition whatsoever. Furthermore, it took away from the observance of its antithesis, All Saints' Day (ognisanti - 1 November). He then added for good measure that in case anyone wanted a nice use for pumpkins, they could bake them and use the filling for ravioli instead (a dish that I must admit, is exceptional in every way - click here for recipe).
But I think he's got it all wrong. Yes, Halloween did start out as a Celtic holiday and a pagan rite. But the Church, like they did with all those pagan temples and mithraism, appropriated the holiday as one of their own and thus All Saints Day came into being. Seeing that Halloween was a lot more fun, they ended up moving the day from May 13th to November 1st so as to ride on the witches' coattails...so to speak. If the Church, instead of fighting it, went with the flow, they could turn Harry Potter tales of good versus evil into a decisive modern-day parable worthy of attention.
As for the Catholic Church coming out against Halloween? There's always the response by Irish-American comedian, Stephen Colbert: Wasn't Jesus someone who rose from the tomb? Wouldn't that make him something like the first zombie?
Maybe this is why there's all this talk about zombies in the cybersphere...