Thursday, October 30, 2014
Dear (central, coastal) Italy,
you don't understand Hallowe'en. Not having seasons, you really fundamentally fail to grasp this quintessentially pagan, harvest autumn festival.
You are already well-equipped with death-festival material, the home of charnel houses and chapels made of bones, a place where ladies still go to have parties at the family mausoleum. I realise that the Catholic culture is dying out here, but you can just decide to revive it if you want. It's all written down in books. Go do native Italian things, related to All Souls and All Saints. The sane world wants this stuff to be preserved.
But Hallowe'en proper is something you really just can't grasp. It's about pumpkins and fallen leaves and straw-stuffed scarecrows on the porch. It's about decorating your house like a haunted house, trick-or-treating (properly, and only if you're under 12) and long slow walks, shuffling through fallen leaves in cold windy weather; bare oak trees and Edgar Allen Poe readings. It is, in short, Northern and English.
Umbria is different, of course. They've got both Autumn and Winter there. In the mornings, you can lie in bed, all curled up with the cat under the quilts, listening to the rain on the roof and the sound of gunshots in the hills as the hunters go after the season's wild boars, the smell of woodsmoke rising up from the valley to heaven through the turning leaves like an evening sacrifice...
Though it might start a little later in the year, since I was there last weekend and the leaves were mostly still green on the trees. So we might have to change it to "November Country".
Anyway, Italy, please stop doing Halloweenesque things in the middle of your perpetual-summer, Mediterranean-climate country. It's really just cringingly embarrassing. Like listening to an American trying to do an English accent; you just want to crawl away and hide from the humiliation the person is visiting upon himself.
So, just go to Mass on Saturday, OK?