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Thursday, October 26, 2006

How Hitler Ruined Halloween

I have gazed into the bright shining maw of Halloween and lived to tell the tale! BWAH HA HA HA HA! After work I went to view a HUMONGOUS & beautiful collection of Halloween memorabilia. Learned all sorts of stuff about Halloween from a local guy, Mark, a Halloween fiend (a nice one) who collects antique Halloween memorabilia. His house is full from bat-filled rafters to black-widow haunted basement with all things Halloween. His place is to Halloween what the North Pole is to Christmas - if that makes sense. I've seen a lot of collections in my time, but never such carefully collected and well-kept stuff unless I include what I've seen at the Smithsonian.

Mark is a walking encyclopedia of All-Things-Halloween and like it or not, I'm going to tell you what I and his other guests learned at his Halloween open house. No! Sit back down and read - you'll enjoy this. I mean, who else is going to give you the straight facts on how Aldorf Hitler ruined Halloween?

Huh? Well, post WWI, Germany wasn’t allowed industries that manufactured metals – least they re-attempt to blow up the world - again, they had to find ways to keep the Gross National Product from disappearing all together (for my fellow Potter fans, that means $$ had apparated). To solve the problem Hans und Inge made Halloween decorations for the American Market. All sorts of items were made, from all types of materials - but no naughty metals. They made loads of die-cut, embossed paper decorations like the adorable Hoot Owl shown above and nifty little figurines of spooky headed ghouls and pumpkin headed monsters out of composite (whatever that is). The figurines held candy and were often given as party favors.

Das über creepy Kürbiskopf pumpkin-head. Would you eat candy that came out of that thing?

Now here's another cool Halloween factoid. Once upon a time Halloween was an adult holiday. I don't mean take off your clothing adult, I mean Halloween was not seen as solely a day for the kiddies.

German-made Halloween ornamentation was used to decorate the homes of the BIG kids. Because Halloween was for adults the overall look of Halloween décor was creepy! People would decorated their homes with eerie looking witches, pumpkins, bow-backed black cats, call in the neighbors and party down. While the partying was on, kids were home tucked in their bunk-beds where we all know they damn well belonged.

Mark said Halloween was a wonderfully spine chilling event right up to approximately 1933 where the Germans come back into the picture at the start of WWII. Ok, this is where Hitler comes in. Hitler said 'Stop making mit der Halloween crazy stuff already und let's get organized here!' , or something like that. The interesting German decor dried up as Germany began again to manufacture WMD (think Iraq). America had to manufacture its own Halloween stuff and all the fun scary stuff, for the most part, dropped out of the holiday. Halloween transmogrified from an excuse for adults to drink beer and party down into a softer, kinder holiday for children to dress up in semi-cuddly costumes to bob for apples and go trick or treating.

Halloween hasn't been the same in the U.S. since WWII. Mark mourns that unfortunate and perhaps sinister turn of events as the point in time when the interesting, artful, creepy and scary Halloween paraphanalia
took a turn for the cutsie, saccharine and none-too-scary; in short - kind of boring.

I suspect Mark may wear a black arm band on Halloween to commemorate the loss of Halloween's former sinister ambiance at the hands of the Dark Lord, Voldemort Hitler.

And that, my dear little boys and ghouls, is how Hitler ruined Halloween.