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BIBLIOGRIND

Adventures in Writing, Reading & Book Culture

Czech-O-Ween

The Czechs have taken to Halloween pretty well. People throw parties, dress in ghoulish costumes, and kids have celebrations at school. What you won’t find are packs of kids walking from house to house asking for “tricks” or “treats”. The more celebrated day of this October-November arc is All Soul’s Day, which is very important to Czech citizens.

During Communist years, religion was, at best, discouraged, and active demoninations were outlawed. Oddly, the Commies decided that making religion illegal was doable, but destroying churches, convents, cathedrals, etc, was a recipe for popular revolt. So basically they turned their heads to the people’s celebration of Saints’ Days and whatnot. (sidenote: most Czech’s I’ve asked are non-religious, or outright atheistic and a bit hostile to organized religions, which they generally say fool people into believing superstitious mumbo jumbo. Those are some righteous thoughts.)

All Soul’s Day is of course a Christian celebration of remembrance—remembering family and friends who have died. There is definitely an irony between the celebration’s importance and the basic disconnect b/w most people and religion in CzechRep, but yet holding onto the idea of spiritual identity. It reminds me of the secularization of Xmas by many, if not most, Americans.

From my observations, and there have been many and they have been thorough, there is a new religion in the Czech Republic — and most of the former Commie satellite countries — that trumps all that have come before and will come hence: MONEY.

Halloween PumpkinI myself prefer the old days of Halloween, going out with big brother Matt and big sister Jennifer, dressed as ghosts or devils or ballerinas or all the imaginative (and traditional ghoulish) costumes, walking up and down Sunset Lane, Sarah Street, and all the way down Addison to Al & Joe’s for their yearly “trick or treat” 1/2 pint of chocolate milk. We came home after dark, with pumpkin-themed bags stretched to outrageous proportions, filled to bursting with bubble gum, sweet-tarts, red hots, hersheys chococate, Good ‘n Plenty, Snickers, Space Food Sticks, Dots, Ju-Ju Bees, Indian Corn (in the small cellophane packets), Sugar Babies, Snaps, Starburst, LemonHeads, Sugar Daddy, Hot Dog gum (I can taste that exact flavor RIGHT NOW!), Pumpkins Seeds, Bit ‘O Honey, M&Ms, Tootsie Roll, and Life Savers.

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