And Gutenberg Lived Here: Halloween in Gutenberg Land

Germans love  putting on costumes,

Painting faces,

Drinking – (bigtime)

And since Carnival,

the “Fifth season” time when they usually do all this,

starts on the eleventh of November.

(Eleven, German ELF, is the short version of the slogan of the French revolution,

egalite, liberte, fraternite,)

with the formation of the military companies

or corporations, as they are called-

hey, German carnival is nothing if not organized-

and goes until the bigger than the Macy’s parade Rose Monday blow out,

followed by two days of clean-up,

and confession,

and eating herring for repentance,

there was, obviously, a huge gap,

theoretically, at least,

between Ash Wednesday,

and the eleventh of November-

time that can be filled by long walks in the woods,

and fishing,

and boating,

You get the idea.

But come October,

and the harvest in,

and the wine in barrels,

and the last wine festival over,

it gets preeeeetttty boring over here.

So boring, in fact, that

I wasn’t really surprised when,

a couple of years ago,


probably by watching reruns of Rosanne, or Home Improvement, which are big over here-

along with Little House on the Prairie and Bonanza-

discovered Halloween.

Yes, Halloween.

Trick or treating,


usually with 50’s style Bill Haley and co music,

and a lot of grilling.

(And drinking of blood-red drinks etc)

Of course, first they had to do a national campaign to cleanse the holiday.

Two weeks of historical programs of where Halloween,

Celtic Halloween,

the druidic holiday of carrying around carved-out turnips,

with disgustingly hideous faces and a candle in them,

really came from.

(And here I’d love to hear whether there is really an Irishman out there anywhere who has ever gone door to door dressed as the bride of Frankenstein and collecting candy. Except in New York,of course.)


the campaign for the “Irish-based” sixth season,

was then followed by a concerted mass swarming to the houses of those in their area known to be American.

And since I do a lot of gospel singing here…

The first time, they caught me totally out flat.-

After handing out the few peppermint hard candies we had in the house, I had to hand them bananas and apples,

and was thinking about if I would get attacked for offering carrots,

when one of the kids-

a quarter of the British quartet of brothers,

aged 16-19 year old,

from down the block,

looked at me in total disdain,

from under a Jack Sparrow hat,

and intoned

“And we thought you were COOOOOOL.”

Last week I bought five large bags of marzipan-plum minis,

(almond powdered sugar paste wafers with plum jam on top and chocolate around it)

And 2 of mini-snickers.

And THIS year, they have to say the magic words:

trick or treat.

And hey,  if that ain’t cool, I don’t know what is.

copyright 2015

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