Halloween: France vs. USA

I finally celebrated my first Halloween!

I mean, I celebrated Halloween before, in my home country, but as a kid. Back then, I would only put on a costume around 6 p.m. and would go for a stroll with other disguised pals around my block. We would just ask for sweets and then come back home, individually.

The last “trick and treat” stroll I made was around age 14.


And I am not even sure if people are still celebrating this in France though, because I very rarely had neighbors banging on my door around Oct. 31 for tricks or treats.

But why?

Well, Halloween was kind of a thing when I was young. Not as huge as here, that’s for sure, but still. So, I did some research, and it appears that Halloween was still a thing in France until the late 90s, before it almost disappeared in the early 2000s.

Back then, the purchasing power in France was quite high. So, every company would do special advertisements and decors for Halloween, and get very excited about this. In the meantime, more traditional and religious French communities would raise up and claim that Halloween is only a “commercial, superficial and ghoulish” party coming from the USA. In their opinion, the USA perverted a very nice Irish tradition and made it a symbol of the “American imperialism.”

A bit intense: I already told you how the French can be a bit much sometimes.

So by 2001, as all the eyes were turned on NYC after 9/11, the French did not feel like partying, and Halloween just started to not be a thing anymore.

But indeed, Halloween was an Irish celebration until the late 19th century. It would actually only include an adults’ march.

Source: Snap-Apple Night, painted by Irish artist Daniel Maclise in 1833. It was inspired by a Halloween party he attended in Blarney, Ireland, in 1832.


In between 1870 and 1880, the USA reinvented the party, which was very entertaining and got everyone really amazed. Adults were replaced by children, and the countryside environment replaced by an urban environment. Back then, children threw eggs at houses or placed buckets of water in front of doors; and did “trick or treat”.

Oct. 31, 2014, “The President greets a youngster while he and the First Lady handed out Halloween treats to local children and children of military families at the White House.” (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)


As a matter of fact, Halloween has not always been a tradition that includes disguising as we do know. It continually reinvents itself.

Now, for me, Halloween is really nothing anymore.

But, well, I had the chance to experience Halloween as I am here in the U.S.!!

The first thing that really amazed me is that people really like to put a costume on! I saw a LOT of people disguised on Halloween. Men would dress up as their favorite characters from movies. When, women, incredibly dressed up very scantily and bloody. Then, you have to party. Party hard. There has to be a lot of references from horror, very loud music, everyone should be disguised and have fun!

So, yes, I really had a good time.

I also noticed that there is a big obsession for pumpkins here, which we surely do not have in France. But it is also so cheap here! So I never saw pumpkin carving before, nor pumpkin pie. And now, well, I have!

Source: PxHere

Anyway, I hope you also had a great Halloween celebration! See you next week!

Floriane Simondet is a graduate exchange student from France, majoring in business administration.



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