Over the past five years or so, Halloween grew exponentially in popularity among the Lebanese population. Halloween parties started to take place a couple of days in advance with people celebrating the holiday – like – well, like Americans.
Part of what bothers me about this is that most Lebanese nag about losing some of our culture and traditions in the shuffle of globalization. And that is apparent the most when it comes to Halloween. After all, it is not a holiday that is Lebanese. There’s nothing Lebanese about it to be exact. It’s like many of those other things we take in like a sponge: Halloween is cool. Let’s celebrate it.
Back in my days, which are still here since I’m only 21, our version of “Halloween” although different in meaning yet very similar in form, took place on December 3rd. I remember going house to house with my friends and sitting on sofas in the warmth of stoves, waiting as those families tried to know who was behind the mask.
Do any of the people celebrating Halloween today (or celebrated it over the weekend) actually celebrate the “Lebanese” version of that day, which holds some significance by being St. Barbara’s day, a Christian martyr who had to disguise herself to escape the king’s persecution?
I guess not. After all, it’s much “cooler” to celebrate something where getting wasted under a mask than to go all rustic and knock on people’s doors to let them guess who you are…
Call me old-fashioned, but if there’s something I would like to keep “Lebanese,” it’s the day where we wear masks just for the fun of it. There’s no reason for us to copy other people’s holidays just because it has been shoved down our throats in movies, series, pop culture… to the point where it has officially been deemed cool by the masses.
What’s the difference between wearing a Jack Sparrow costume on October 31st and December 3rd, other than the date? A whole cultural identity.