04 Nov My article about Halloween published in Metro :)
My second article published in the media, this time in Sweden’s largest newspaper Metro. So far it seems the newspapers are more interested in writing about society instead of sex and relationships…
The content in English:
Last weekend was All Saints Day, or Halloween as most people call it today. I was out in Amsterdam to party and have fun with some Swedish friends. We really had no idea how to dress up, only that we should wear something “dark”.
It was a fairly long line of people when we got to the nightclub at 1 o’clock. Most were in the age of 20-40 and nearly all were disguised in some way. Monsters or walking dead with flesh wounds in the face and on the body, lentils with unnatural eyes and mouths with vampire teeth and scraps hanging out. My friend and I looked at the line, it was not exactly a party atmosphere and we felt a little lost. “It is a strange theme this, isn’t it?” I asked her. “Yeah, it’s not really inviting,” she said. It was rather distasteful.
The club was pretty big and when we came in the temperature rose, people had alcohol in their hands and loud music played from the speakers. It sure felt better than in the street, but I found it hard to get in the mood. Partly because I can be a music fascist and I thought the DJ was poor, I tend to believe after all that I know best you know. 😉 But others agreed it was difficult to find the flow when the DJ changed style every five minutes. There is something stressful about that. Besides the music the feeling of the place was tricky to put into words, it was the opposite to homelike and superficial was the word that came to me. Then it suddenly hit me what Halloween is probably all about, or rather what it was about when the tradition was established. It was about honouring the dead.
Our modern society celebrates youth, looks, gadgets, money, economic growth and efficiency. We are proud of our knowledge, but the word wisdom is scarcely used – it is associated with someone who is old. Old age and death is something we would rather not know of. It does not fit into the template and an example is that our old people often are “stored” in a home far away, not to remind us of our own old age and death. How often do you see a dead man? In the past, in all nature religions and at the origin of all spiritual traditions, death had a natural place. Just as natural as life. Imagine how beautiful All Saints Day could be if we gathered to remember the dead. Told about what they said and did, what difficulties they overcame and what wisdom they lived for. It could be both saints, i.e. prominent people, and our own ancestors. A beautiful opportunity to go deeper together, honouring those who have made us to who we are and also remembering our own inevitable death. Maybe it would provide some perspective on all our daily problems with slow computers, delayed buses and bad weather.
My opinion is that we have become superficial in the Western world and how we celebrate our traditions are clear examples of this. Jesus seemed to have some wise messages for us and we can appreciate them without having to go to a church. But Christmas is today for most people about food and drinks, and for the children the presents are the big thing. At Easter a bunny is handing out candy to children. Midsummer in Sweden is primarily about alcohol and partying and the other function of holidays is to escape the job. Food, alcohol, sugar, gadgets and work that does not feel meaningful. It is said that our character is revealed in our actions and how we have transformed our traditions might give us a clue as to where we are?
All Saints Day, an opportunity to go deep within oneself and with others has turned into a superficial stunt. Instead of honouring the dead, we now dress up as zombies from the cemetery and get drunk in those clothes. OK sure, it’s also comical. The concept is quite crazy. I asked around in the club and there seemed to be nobody who understood what we were really doing. Of course you can laugh about it, that’s what I did. But surely there is something to learn when we collectively behave so unconsciously, and have forgotten who we are and where we come from. It seems to apply in the Netherlands as well as in Sweden and the USA.