Halloween panic didn’t take too long to hit the cyber-waves this year. Last year we had a parish priest sending an apocalypse-now style missive to the parishioners; feeding pumpkin pie to your kids while they’re wearing a witch’s hat, we were told, is tantamount to selling their souls to the devil.
Well, fine he didn’t actually use these words, but the arguments in the missive were so banal that he may as well have.This year the needless scare-mongering was kicked off by Fr Reuben Gauci, on his publicly accessible Facebook profile. Fr Reuben believes that Halloween is a “karnival ta’ swidija (sic), mewt u karattri ta’ dwejjaq, koroh u tal-biza” (a carnival of blackness, death and characters depicting sadness, ugly and frightening”.
Of course, Fr Reuben has every right to not be a fan of Halloween. It is a free country, despite the best efforts of many people to make it otherwise. However, given his role in society and the fact that he has chosen to leave his Facebook profile accessible to Joe Public, how responsible and mature is it to try to instill fear and worry in parents when there is no reason to?
The post immediately gave rise to the obvious plethora of comments that would be hilarious were it not for the fact that the Maltese penchant to make a drama out of everything and to imagine danger where there is none has become bloody boring. My favourite (as in funniest) comments on this post were the following two:
“Halloween il-festa tal-mewt. Il-mewt daħlet minħabba d-dnub.” (Halloween is the feast of death. Death exists only because there is sin.)
“…trid tara…l-idejat sataniċi li hemm fil-Halloween.” (The problem is the satanic ideas behind Halloween celebrations.
Really people? You seriously believe that a future of sacrificing goats and conjuring demons awaits every ten-year-old who goes trick and treating? Some basic online investigation revealed that the two people who wrote the above comments appear to be adults, supposedly mature enough to distinguish between the ancient origins of a ritual and its modern-day popularisation. The latter, obviously, is rooted in the fact that kids (and some adults) love any excuse to party and to stuff their faces with candy. The combo tends to spell financial success, so hey…let’s make a feast out of it. Granted that it might not be everyone’s cup of tea, but I’d hardly call it the road to eternal damnation.
So just lighten up, you all. If you don’t enjoy Halloween, that’s perfectly fine. No-one is forcing you to take part (though I do feel sorry for your kids, making them miss out on all that candy is hardly nice of you). But please let’s not try make out that Malta is falling prey to the forces of darkness. The only thing we’re guilty of is pandering to crass commercialism, but last I checked, it was such things that kept the wheels of economy turning.
As for those whom many Maltese look up to as spiritual leaders, it would be nice to see a measure of level-headedness, as opposed to Facebook statuses that are designed to fan unfounded worries. Now, where’s the candy gone?
An edited version of this post appeared on The Times.