Monday, October 31, 2016

Pagans at the Church Door: Halloween in Venice

Above is the 6th podcast I've done so far: this one, as you can see, is seasonal in nature.

Since this piece was written 5 years ago, Halloween has become even more popular in Venice: plastic jack o' lanterns and all the other images and costumes of the holiday typical in, say, America, can now be seen in store windows around Venice--competing with the large decorated horse-and-rider cookies synonymous with the local Festa of San Martino for window space.

Indeed, it occurs to me now that perhaps it's no coincidence that the Venetian church mentioned in the podcast as being among the most adamantly opposed to Halloween was that dedicated to San Martino himself--the saint whose feast day not only falls close to that of Halloween, but whose celebration among kids shares similar elements.

Both holidays involve costumes: in the case of the saint's feast day, a cape and sword and crown and, sometimes, a toy horse, all representing important elements of his story of charity. In the case of Halloween, well, anything goes....

Both involve sweets

And both involve groups of kids going from store to store in search of candy handouts.

At present both holidays co-exist, so it's easy to focus on the church's objection to the way in which Halloween secularizes the importance of the eve of All Saint's Day--removing the focus from remembering those who have died and from praying for their souls to a variety of cartoonish frights and, not incidentally, saleable thrills.

But it's not hard to imagine the church of San Martino having more than a little anxiety about a time when Halloween might began to overshadow and displace the feast of their patron saint, as well.

But all of this is beyond the concerns of the above podcast, which is concerned more generally with piety, impiety, and preschool pagans.

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