November 2, 2009

Celebrating Halloween in Germany

Dieter Tschorn, a German businessman started promoting the event in 1994 and it took off.
Dieter Tschorn, a German businessman started promoting the event in 1994 and it took off.
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Halloween in Germany

In the mid-1990s, few in Germany had ever heard of Halloween, and even fewer celebrated it. Now, it's a $245 million a year industry. Who to “blame” for building such an “industry” around Halloween? Dieter Tschorn - a German businessman, who started promoting the event in 1994 and it took off.

Although Halloween has never been a traditional German celebration, nevertheless, it has become a rather popular celebration in Germany. In 2007 alone, 4,600 pumpkins were sold in Germany. It is now common to see pumpkin (K├╝rbis) and jack-o'lantern decorations in Austria and Germany.

Hollywood is also to blame for such a spread of Halloween spirit around Europe. Movies and television, showcasing what a fun tradition Halloween is, prompt children and adults in Germany to want to assimilate the holiday in their country.

And even though trick-or-treating is not as common in Germany, the other aspect of Halloween appealed more to Germans – the parties thrown around the holiday by kids and adults with costumes, parades, food, booze and fireworks, and many German-language Halloween sites would advertise Halloween party outfits. One of them is Hamburg's House of Horror.

Many bakeries and stores in Germany now sell Halloween-theme products, such as Halloween bread, Halloween sausage, Halloween candy and even Halloween cocktails. And more and more children now go door to door for trick-or-treat.

While fifteen years ago there was no Halloween celebration in Germany, now it’s a very profitable industry – third in profits after Christmas and Easter. Halloween festivals, parades and pumpkin harvests are now a big part of the celebration.

There is an old traditional German custom that has much in common with Halloween: Martinstag, the observance which on November 11 includes costumes and a lantern procession for children.

So, if you are around in German on Halloween, taping into a foreign celebration of your native holiday might be just another fun and cultural activity for you to experience. You'd definitely have something to share with your friends back home, if not for comparing it to the way your family and friends celebrate it in USA.

Please share with me your Halloween experience in other countries. I'd love to hear from you.

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