(just a comment I wrote on Facebook, answering someone complaining about the “cultural appropriation” of Halloween)

Halloween in Italy: cultural appropriation, or imposition? /img/halloween-no-grazie.png

I have to point out that besides, or before, “cultural appropriation” there often is “cultural imposition, or forcing. This is certainly the case with USA-consumerist-style Halloween in Italy. Here, we have always (=in the latest ~50 years) known that USA kids would dress up and go trick or treating, or watch scary movies on Oct 31st, because we would see that in USA movies, and translated Peanuts strips.

But we couldn’t care less of doing the same, just like we wouldn’t and still don’t care for peanut butter. There was simply no need or desire for “appropriating” USA Halloween traditions. We either had our own local, much older traditions for local versions of the same event, or saw nothing special in Oct 31st period. We would “appropriate” lots of stuff from USA (clothing, music..) but not Halloween.

Then, one fall of about ~15 years ago, all of a sudden, toys shop and thrifty stores nationwide all became full to the roof of really cheap Halloween merchandise from China. Skull masks, sexy witch costumes, plastic pumpkin lights, the whole works, in its most trashy version. That invasion of junk returned the following year. In the space of no more than 34 years, after decades of merrily ignoring Halloween, every Italian parent forced himself, or was forced by (kid or parent) peer pressure, to dress up his kids and send them trick or treating.

USA Halloween in Italy is not cultural appropriation. It is some big industry, or cluster of industries, likely in China but it doesn’t really matter, suddenly realizing that, in order to grow they had to dump on Italy some more thousands of tons of plastic junk every year, and that molding it as pumpkins was the most efficient way to shove it down our throats. Sadly, most Italians fell in this head first, but only after it was proposed/imposed.

PS: ditto, to a minor extent, for Valentines. We’ve known since the 60’s that USA kids and adults write Valentines to each other on Feb 14th, because Peanuts was already very popular here. But nobody ever felt compelled to do the same until they found valentine cards inside every stationery shop.