Halloween is being celebrated today in several countries around the world including in parts of Latin America where the holiday has traditionally not been observed. One of these countries is Colombia and while some people there have taken on the Halloween customs such as pumpkin decorating and trick-or-treating, others are not so pleased.
Earlier this month the dean of the Universidad Minuto de Dios called for a ban on all Halloween celebrations at the school’s campus.
“I ask that this holiday is not celebrated in our institution, which I consider contrary to our Christian principles of love and seeking what is good, said Father Harold Castilla in a statement issued on October 22nd. Halloween, in his view, is a “tradition with roots in the pagan adoration of spirits and the Celtic god of death.”
Though Castilla acknowledged that individuals have a “personal choice” to observe Halloween away from school, he called on all Halloween decorations to be removed from the campus. Instead he urged students and faculty to prepare for the celebration of Christmas, which he described as a holiday “where we can all open our hearts, homes and this intuition to receive the Christ Child.”
Some university students claimed that Castilla was censoring them and limiting their freedoms of religion and expression.
“It’s an outrage falsely based on Church doctrines,” reportedly said one person who commented on the “Memes UniMinuto” Facebook page.
“What did you expect from a religious institution? It’s like saying that partygoers at a nightclub should pray the rosary at midnight,” mentioned another commenter.
Castilla subsequently said tried to clarify his remarks in a radio interview by claiming that the communiqué was aimed at administrators and professors rather tan students. Yet he criticized Halloween as running against Catholic teachings of “the way of life and not of death.”
Castilla isn’t the only Colombian opposed to Halloween fry religious reasons. Bogotá councilman Marco Fidel Ramírez called for a prohibition on the holiday that he alleged “persuades children to become Satanists and witches.”
Meanwhile, educational officials in Russia on Wednesday apparently took a page out of Castilla’s playbook:
The education ministry of the Omsk region in Siberia sent out a letter telling schools that “holidays that are propaganda for extremist moods will not be celebrated,” its website said Wednesday.
Halloween, a pagan holiday celebrated widely worldwide on October 31, has become increasingly popular with young Russians who hold fancy-dress parties and go to themed club nights.
The Omsk education authority said it reacted after a warning from the regional Parents’ Assembly, a conservative lobby group.
Celebrating Halloween has “negative consequences” because of its “mystical content and propaganda of the cult of death,” the regional ministry said.Video Source– YouTube via user Magnoglobal (Zombie Crawl celebrated in Bogotá, Colombia on October 29, 2010).
Online Sources – The Raw Story; Noticias Caracol; Semana.com; El Tiempo; las2orillas.co; Confidencial Colombia