Russian Region Wages War on Halloween

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Luke MacGregor / Reuters

Russia's President Vladimir Putin leaves Downing Street in London on June 16, 2013

It’s getting to be a Halloween tradition in Russia for local governments to ban the holiday. Last year, schools in the city of Sochi, which will host the Winter Olympic Games next year, were forbidden from celebrating Halloween after the local education ministry ruled that it could harm the “psychological health” of the city’s children. For the last decade, a similar ban has been in force in Moscow, and this year the Siberian region of Omsk joined the list after local authorities ruled that the holiday contributed to “extremist sentiments.”

In a directive issued to all of the region’s schools, the Omsk education ministry ordered teachers to “take measures to curtail any events aimed at celebrating Halloween.” Citing the findings of the Institute of Pedagogical Innovations, a state-backed research center, the ministry said that the holiday perpetuates “certain propaganda for the cult of death” and could have “destructive effects on the psychological and spiritual-moral health of the students,” according to the local news website Sib.fm, which cited a copy of the directive.

The regional minister of education, Sergei Alekseev, confirmed the reports in a statement, saying the ban on Halloween was part of an effort to stop “extremist sentiments among children and young people.” Events held on school grounds, he added, should coincide with the “basic cultural values of the people of Russia.”

In recent years, an aversion to the influences of the West has become a staple of President Vladimir Putin’s rhetoric, as he has tried to rally younger voters based on a patriotic “national idea.” In a speech last month, Putin said that “the mechanical copying of foreign experience” cannot help Russia in its search for a political and cultural sense of self. “Such crude mimicry, such attempts to civilize Russia from the outside, have not been accepted by the absolute majority of our nation, because the drive toward independence, toward spiritual, ideological and geopolitical sovereignty is an irrevocable part of our national character.”

In Putin’s view, that character is to be shaped in large part through the teachings of the Russian Orthodox Church, which has often denounced foreign holidays like Valentine’s Day as “pagan” or “Satanic.” A few days before Halloween, one of the leading clerics of the Orthodox Church, Vsevolod Chaplin, warned that the holiday presents a “serious danger” to society. “When you play with demons, it’s easy to get played, and to wind up under influences that are no laughing matter,” he told the state news agency RIA Novosti.

Yet all the Church’s proselytizing has not curtailed a deep Russian tendency toward superstition. A survey conducted last year by the independent Levada Center polling agency found that 59% of respondents believe in “hexes and the evil eye.” After the fall of the Soviet Union, which tended to condemn Western holidays as frivolous symptoms of social decay, Halloween caught on fast in Russia. Corporate costume parties became all the rage in the 1990s, and night clubs throughout the country started holding ghoulish events at the end of each October.

But with Putin’s attempt to shape a distinctly Russian national identity, such displays of Western merrymaking have earned the condemnation of the state. So while there is no ban on trick-or-treating or wearing costumes, a lot of Russian kids are having to save the fun for after school.

196 comments
rpcarnell
rpcarnell

From communism to Christian theocracy. This is pretty much like leaving behind a cocaine addiction to fully endorse a heroin one.

1234_1234
1234_1234

Halloween is another stupid american export. Who needs it? They should keep their mouths shut.

Imya
Imya

Putin has nothing to do with it. Russia has its own culture, which is much more rich than American and we just DONT NEED alien traditions from other countries. Sculls and corps for a holiday is wierd and sacrilege for our culture. Americans arejustNOT ABLE to understand it. Children dress and ask for sweets on other RUSSIAN holiday, which has nothing to do with helloween.

 

Ocsicnarf
Ocsicnarf

I don't think Halloween is dangerous for mental health of course but I don't like it. For me it's a foreign tradition as Thanksgiving that I respect but I don't share.

MihailBoykov
MihailBoykov

а толку то,от запрета,люди все равно отмечали 

бред

Vijay Banga
Vijay Banga

A matter of perception, interpretation and application

Chris Oliver
Chris Oliver

Hilarious...Russia getting farther off the mark again! Guess they don't want dudes dressing as chicks one night a year...lol!

Little Manly
Little Manly

American Tradition in Siberia is extreme.

Roman Mikhaylov
Roman Mikhaylov

Dressing up and collecting candy is extremist! I guess we are such extremists as we dressed up and got two buckets of candy yesterday.

Christian Surf
Christian Surf

Russia sees America crumbling. Guess they've had enough crumbling of their own and can't afford anymore? Now...will they apply what they've learned to cleaning up the mob-like corruption too?

Christian Surf
Christian Surf

Wow. Freaky kind of propaganda or generational role reversal? Russia is sounding more like what the Bible Belt used to be ...in selectively unique ways of course ;p

Yazdi H.Malu
Yazdi H.Malu

As always, fun is interpreted as dangerous by the apparatchiks who infest government in any country. We have some here ready for export.

Jon Bell
Jon Bell

A war is a war. A ban is not.

Yuji Matsutani
Yuji Matsutani

Russian,Russian,Russian♪♪ I'm sending a message to you.But, what is you real thought?

Michael Samra
Michael Samra

This the anti-Christ that Obama kneeled to at the last summit-what a shame on that Nigro-Prez

Salton Sea NatureMan
Salton Sea NatureMan

Some Halloween (a religious scarecrow product) used it to mess your house with cream when you are out! Ban Halloween it is only good for merchants .. choose Mid-autumn festival instead! ... :v

Levente LioLevi Buzás
Levente LioLevi Buzás

No. That is not OUR tradition. Our tradition is to remember for our family members. Not that we goin partying. Here most peeps only see that.

Yolanda Sim
Yolanda Sim

A few days before Halloween, one of the leading clerics of the Orthodox Church, Vsevolod Chaplin, warned that the holiday presents a “serious danger” to society. “When you play with demons, it’s easy to get played, and to wind up under influences that are no laughing matter,” he told the state news agency RIA Novosti. Read more: Halloween Banned in Russian Siberian Region of Omsk | TIME.com http://world.time.com/2013/10/31/halloween-extremist-says-russian-region-enacting-ban/#ixzz2jOCDBKPq

Javellana Sherlyn
Javellana Sherlyn

define extrimist Putin. you don't know the meaning of having fun

Kitty Leering
Kitty Leering

Always good to know that government is busy with important stuff....

Imya
Imya

@1234_1234 Exactly.The funniest thing is that nobody gives a sh..t here in Russia for this holiday, nobody celebrates it and never did. Lol

Imya
Imya

@MihailBoykov Среди моих знакомых никто не отмечал и не отмечает никогда.

Imya
Imya

@Emanuela Nosiglia There is a special day when we commemorate our late friends and relatives. We visit their graves and take care of them. But there is no joy and fun. This is how we feel it should be. Who ARE you, to call us idiots for this? There are much more reasons for us (and the whole world)  to call YOU i diots.