Displaying Our Skeletons by Dina Khapaeva
Between a plague, a war and the potential for nuclear Armageddon in Ukraine, one wonders why the public’s enthusiasm for horror films and spooky decorations remains strong. How did a festival rooted in pre-modern agrarian rituals survive in post-industrial society and why did it spread around the world?
ATLANTA – What explains the global popularity of Halloween these days? Country after country where Halloween festivities have spread, one is tempted to read politics. In the United States, for example, some see Halloween as an expression of countercultural aesthetics representing opposition to capitalist exploitation, gender and racial inequality, and American imperialism.
Since the collapse of Communism in Eastern Europe, Western-oriented citizens of these countries have viewed Halloween as a status symbol and a festive novelty. Even though the Ukrainian Orthodox Church shuns Halloween, skeleton costumes and gruesome make-up were on sale across the country in October – a defiant sign of resilience in the face of Russian terrorism, or perhaps simply a reflection of the desire to look like any other European country. .
Despite the Kremlin’s antipathy to anything Western, Russians also prepared for Halloween (a “devilish holiday”, according to the Russian Orthodox Church) this year, as they have since the late 1990s. pro-Kremlin media ran stories about the holidays, no doubt eager to create a superficial sense of normalcy. And, given that more than 50,000 Russian soldiers were killed in President Vladimir Putin’s “special military operation” in Ukraine, and some 700,000 Russians – mostly men of draft age – fled the country, many Russians’ desire to wear with Halloween-as-usual suggests that the hype is working.
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