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Halloween, Invented in France?



     Gresham's law, that bad money drives out good, has a more general application, as shown by Halloween. Having fun is more fun than worrying about one's dead parents, so Halloween is replacing All Souls Day, just as Carnival has lost its significance as the beginning of Lent. This latter paganization began in Catholic countries, now the former is winning there too.
     The fun-loving French have taken up Halloween with gusto, just as they took up Big Macs. Since last year, the Big Mac has become a symbol of detested American influence, to the detriment of good old French cooking. Likewise Halloween has to be made French. This year an Alsatian village called Logelheim claims to be the origin of Halloween. I have lived in that part of France, but I do not know the place and it does not appear in my detailed atlases. Perhaps it has changed its name.
     In any case, Halloween has put it on the map, to the great benefit of local business. People are flocking there and slurping pumpkin soup. The French word for pumpkin is potiron, and it is used for soup, not pie. Pumpkin soup seems to be unknown in the U.S., and potiron pie seems to be unknown in France. I claim no expertise in these matters.
     Otherwise, French Halloween is just like American Halloween, but without "Trick or treat," the most offensive part of that distressing holiday. The problem is that the French say "le Halloween." Either they must find a French equivalent, or prove that the word is French, and was stolen by the Americans.
     They have another problem. French TV news is less intellectual than Spanish TV news, and devotes too much time to sports, entertainment and fashions. Today France has gone wild because, playing le rugby at Cardiff, the French beat the All Black Australians. The color refers to their shirts, the players are just "Anglo-Saxons." De Gaulle was applauding from his grave. Not I. Rugby is on the same level as its American cousin football, a grade above boxing. Now the triumphant French face a great problem. They must prove that "le rugby" was invented in France, and that Rugby is really a town in Alsace.

Ronald Hilton - 11/1/99


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