By Stephen Wilson
(Moscow, Russia) -- In recent days, a Russian politician , Yarloslav Mikhailov, is attempting to persuade law enforcement agencies to take strict measures to formally
forbid Halloween. In fact, Mikhailov argues that the celebration of Halloween is already forbidden and it only remains for the legal authorities to punish the culprits under existing 'counter-terrorist public safety laws' which were previously introduced by Irina Yarovarya . He claims that people celebrating Halloween are making a mockery of the Russian Orthodox church by offending their religious beliefs. The supporters of this action regard Halloween 'as pure satanism disguised in costumes and performances'. Yarloslav Mikhailov , who is a leading persecutor of gays, regards Halloween as a 'religious ritual ' as well as an
attempt to worship the 'forces of satan'.
Mikhailov has already sent papers to the Procuracy General. However, there is only one snag. None of the officials can find the documents he sent them.
They are hidden under a never ending heap of legal documents.
There exists a second problem. Hardly anyone celebrates Halloween in Russia and even less do they participate in satanic cults where rituals are used. A Levada opinion poll found that only one in twenty Russians plan to celebrate Halloween. Most of this celebrating is innocuous . It involves
young people dressing up in fancy costumes not only of vampires, witches and zombies but often soldiers , Indians or cowboys. At the worst, those people might scare people but the main idea is not to worship satan but 'to have a good time'. It rather trivalises, banalises and often overshadows church prayers for the dead.
In Britain , the celebration is popular amongst young people who simply love to make pumpkin or turnip lanterns , tell ghost stories , go guising and dress up. The roots of this custom have been obscured. Although some anthropologists such as Sir James Fraser regard Halloween as having ancient roots dating back to the Celts, there is no hard evidence. However, if the custom of Halloween , Samhain , really dates back to the Celts, then in this case, it is a pagan, and not Satanic practice. In their legends and stories, the
Celts regarded this as a time when borders between the living and the dead became thin. The dead returned to haunt the living. The living would remain in doors , and offer careful hospitality to the dead by offering them warmth food and care. The dead were treated with reverence and respect because many Irish felt sorry for them . Those customs of 'feeding the dead' ,partially although not wholly , mirror Russian customs.
What is remarkable is that Russian politicians not only betray an ignorance of Halloween but even their own Russian Slavonic customs which they purport to defend.
In the old Arbat of Moscow, anti-Halloween activists gathered to protest against Halloween. The activists have been demanding a ban on the celebration of Halloween in schools and kindergartens in Russia. One man carried a placard declaring : " Paganism has no place in schools and kindergartens'. There is only one problem . Very few ,if any kindergarten actually celebrates Halloween. Teachers are already aware that celebrating such an occasion will only provoke unwanted conflict. No representative of Sorok Sorokov, the Orthodox movement which seeks to ban Halloween, has yet got round to naming particular Kindergartens or schools which celebrate Halloween. Maybe they 'll pick them out of a lucky bag.
Of course, there are some businessmen attempting to cash in on this occasion.
For example, at a shop in Sokol you can buy decorative pumpkins and lanterns and some restaurants invite their customers to a special Halloween dinner. None of this is worth taking seriously.
A Russian teacher sent me a message saying : " Enjoy a Happy Samhain at the weekend". Yet I , and most Scottish adults don't celebrate this.
On the contrary, it is a time for remembering the dead by going to church to light candles for them. (if you are a Catholic or Orthodox believer).
One wonders what they will try and ban next ? Will they try and fine 'ghosts' for disturbing the living?