Do the French Hate Halloween? American Invasion to Blame?

Do the French Hate Halloween? American Invasion to Blame?

Do the French Hate Halloween? American Invasion to Blame? Halloween in France. All Saints’ Day. La Toussaint! Oh, where do I begin? 

My relationship with Halloween is one of a curious nature. I grew up in a small Christian town in Pennsylvania with six sisters. Needless to say, my parents always had their eyes on us. They never wanted us playing Pokemon cards or reading Harry Potter in fear of us dabbling in “Witch Craft.” We went to church every Sunday, sometimes Wednesdays, for bible study. This little bird was shocked when my parents agreed to let us celebrate Halloween. Of course, there were guidelines. We had to “trick or treat” at the church and were only allowed to wear Angel or Disney type outfits. Anything that resembled the devil was out of the question. 

Halloween is one of those holidays that people either love or hate. You really cannot have a middle ground when it comes to this spooky holiday. For the French, the same seems to ring true. Perhaps, they don’t appreciate the “paganistic” holiday, the classless outfits, or that All Saints’ Day is on their celebratory agenda instead of another American one?

I could be off base with my opinions, BUT something tells I’m secretly (not so secretly) touching on the real reason French people hate Halloween.

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Notre Dame Halloween
When you think of Halloween in France. A distinct image of Notre Dame with bats flying around comes to mind

Halloween in France

Before you can answer the question of “Do the French hate Halloween” you first have to understand Halloween in France. I think I speak for everyone when I say the 1990s were a vibrant time in American culture. The music, the clothes, the energy, plus I’m a 1992 kid. It’s no wonder Halloween in France started in 1990.

BUT… in all fairness, Americans are not the ones who really are to ‘blame’ for Halloween making its way to France. Halloween actually comes from the Celts who held a historic Celtic Festival of Samhain.

[Halloween] marked the end of summer and the harvest and the beginning of the dark, cold winter, a time of year that was often associated with human death – History.com

Looking back to the 1990s, there were the so cold “bad seeds” going to the restaurants dressed up in their ‘Allhallows Eve’ outfits plotting how to reach the next bar or club that night. I would have loved to be a fly on the wall for that period. I’m sure the French had the free-spirits were living their best lives.

There’s a nagging part of me that wonders if those same wild child Frenchys were thinking about getting up early the next day for All Saint’s Day Mass.

2020Sat/Sam31 OctHalloweenFR & USA
2021Sun/Dim31 OctHalloweenFR & USA
2022Mon/Lun31 OctHalloweenFR & USA
2023Tue/Mar31 OctHalloweenFR & USA
2024Thur/ Jeu31 OctHalloweenFR & USA
2025Fri/ Ven31 OctHalloweenFR & USA
Dates for Halloween in France and United States

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All Saints' Day  La Toussaint
Putting candles at grave sites is a part of the French tradition of All Saints’ Day also known as La Toussaint

All Saints’ Day in France

La Toussaint, also known as All Saints’ Day, is a public holiday in France where schools, nonessential businesses, etc. are closed. Similar to what you would see in the States for Easter. France is wildly known for its Laïcité (secularism) yet, All Saints’ Day in France seems to be close to their hearts. A day in which the main goal is to celebrate ALL SAINTS!

All Saint’s Day in France can be traced back to the beginning of time but was made relevant by Pope Boniface IV on May 13 in 609 AD. Pope Gregory III is widely known for establishing the November 1st date in the mid 8th century. As a Baptist (Protestant), I never celebrated All Saints’ Day nor knew of it until a few years ago.

All Saint's Day and La Toussaint Flowers chrysanthemums
All Saint’s Day (La Toussaint) most popular Flowers are chrysanthemums

Just a Catholic Holiday?

I’ve always viewed anything related to celebrating saints as a Catholic thing holiday, similar to how I view Lent. In France, it seems to be a celebration for All Christians and non-Christians to partake in. The French celebrate La Toussaint by going to mass, followed by visiting their loved ones’ graves. They usually will place chrysanthemums, pictures, etc. on the graves.

When you ponder “Halloween in France and whether the French Hate Halloween,” you realize it’s intertwined in the French culture. No one is putting the date on their calendar. No one is out planning parties or buying lavish sexy outfits. However, in the back of their minds, they’re more than likely thinking we do Halloween better. We just chose not to celebrate it. Been there done that before American was even a country or thought.

2020Sun / Dim1 NovAll Saints’ Day / La ToussaintPublic holiday
2021Mon / Lun1 NovAll Saints’ Day / La ToussaintPublic holiday
2022Tue / Mar1 NovAll Saints’ Day / La ToussaintPublic holiday
2023Wed / Mer1 NovAll Saints’ Day / La ToussaintPublic holiday
2024Fri / Ven1 NovAll Saints’ Day / La ToussaintPublic holiday
2025Sat / Sam1 NovAll Saints’ Day / La ToussaintPublic holiday
Dates for La Toussaint & All Saint’s Day in France

French Halloween costumes
How the French celebrate Halloween in France with French style Halloween costumes.

How some French people celebrate Halloween in France

I can’t speak for the French on this one, but I know many late 1980s early 1990s babies loved watching ‘Mean Girls.’ Admit it! You memorized this line.

Halloween is when kids dress up and beg for candy. But in girl world, Halloween is the one time of year a girl can dress like a total slut and no other girl can say anything about it.” – Cady, Mean Girls

Welp, hate to be the bearer of bad news, but scary Halloween customs are the French boys and girls’ kryptonite in France. Skeletons, witches, vampires, goblins, you name it. No one is running down the streets dressed as a playboy bunny or sexy french maid. No one. There’s blood, feathers, PANTS! You can get a better idea by checking out the French Halloween store, Déguisetoi, for authentic Halloween outfits.

Apart from dressing up the Francophiles will spend their day eating French bon bons, drinking some wine, and hanging out with friends. In all honestly the day will be treated just like any other day in France.

But wait, what about trick or treating?

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Halloween in France
Do the French trick or treat in France during Halloween?

The French don’t “trick or treat” for Halloween in France

Non, merci to the tricks but yes to the treats. In French, the famous saying “trick or treat” is “des bonbons ou un sort,” which literally translates to “some candies or a type.”

BUT you’ve been warned…the French are NOT interested in any tricks!

You won’t see kids out papering trees and egging cars, nor will you catch playing “ding, dong, ditch.”

It’s more common to have stores handy out “bonbons.” There are a few stores with French Halloween decor set up and decorations you can buy for parties and more in Menton, France.

All Saints' Day. McDonald's in France, Europe. American Invasion taking over
McDonald’s in Europe represents the symbolism of an American Culture Invasion.

American Invasion to Blame?

We all think the French hate Halloween. But why? Is an American Invasion to blame? When I say an American Invasion, I really mean it. Think back on all the holidays you celebrate. Now think about how many times you see sales, movies, clothing, food, decor dedicated to that holiday. Why are there endless items at our disposal for holidays meant for family, religion, a day off from work?

The same way American way found a way to sell McDonald’s in France. FRANCE! The home of all things fantastic food. Is the same way the Americans invade by pushing their “culture” on everyone. When the French started celebrating Halloween in the 1990s, I can imagine it was an exciting time. People were not thinking about why they were celebrating, just that they wanted to.

How many times can you watch Halloweentown without eventually wanting to celebrate Halloween? How many times can you watch the classic movie Halloween and not be intrigued by what the Americans are doing?

After becoming an Expat, I quickly realized how much American has tried to inject itself into France. Halloween is just an extension of that effort. Let’s be honest though the real American Invasion is Capitalism in holidays.

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Why the French dislike Halloween
Is Capitalism to blame for the French disliking Halloween?

Capitalism in every holiday

I love shopping. It’s therapeutic. I don’t care if it’s window shopping, online shopping, Sale Day, you name it. Shopping makes me happy. I can walk into a store and be content trying on different combinations of tops and bottoms and not buy a single item.

I digress…

The point is…I can admit it. There is too much Capitalism in what should be holidays spent with family and friends. Is Capitalism to blame for the French disliking Halloween.

One of the biggest culture shocks I’ve had so far living in France is the laid back character when it comes to birthdays, anniversaries, graduations, Christmas, and yes Halloween. My mother-in-law and French husband always say

Holidays are a capitalistic trap to buy nonsense you don’t need

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All Saints' Day La Toussaint
All Saints’ Day La Toussaint is potentially being overshadowed

Are the French mad about La Toussaint being overshadowed?

Do the French Hate Halloween? I’ve been contemplating why the French hate Halloween. Why they don’t engage in the month-long decorations on display. The Americanized Hollywood Halloween movies, or the endless spending on cheap and perhaps sexist costumes. Maybe it really is the American invasion of French culture. I can understand that. I can even agree that holidays are overly capitalistic. The holiday turns into a celebration of spending money. Yes, all valid and factual points.

BUT…

Can we talk about the fact that All Saint’s Day, the France national public holiday, is right after Halloween? I don’t see any commercials, movies, reminders announcing the upcoming holiday.

No one has asked about the typical “What are your plans for All Saints’ Day?” I understand that All Saints’ Day could be personal. In theory, you’re spending the morning at mass, followed by visiting your loved ones’ grave. It’s not exactly the most appropriate conversation to have.

Do the French dislike Halloween because of their Christian Roots?

Do the French Hate Halloween? Honestly, I don’t think it’s a matter of hate as it is a matter of conflicting roots. To me, the French are in denial and are more religious than they want to admit. Their identity of  Laïcité seems to be ironic to me. They don’t like religion yet, their entire country is engulfed with Christianity.

Look around a French town. You will see a PMU, tabac, boulangerie, and a church– natasha Delort

Do the French hate Halloween
Do the French hate Halloween?

Do the French Hate Halloween?

When you think of Halloween, what is the first thing that comes to mind? Are you the type who cuddles up on the sofa with a bag of movie theater popcorn you just bought from the grocery store and start browsing the scary movies? Or are you like me? A total scary-cat and can’t stand the idea of watching scary movies but want to decorate with Pumpkins!

Now, let your mind wonder? Do those same feelings spring to mind when you think of Halloween in France? Be honest. Probably not.

Do the French Hate Halloween? Yes!!!

All Saints' Day. Do the French hate halloween

Let’s recap the reasons why the French strongly dislike (HATE…) Halloween, shall we?

  1. The French don’t like the Halloween”sexy outfits” and prefer to wear scary costumes if they are going to celebrate
    1. OK. I can agree with this one. The French have a point here
  2. The French hate the “tricks” aspect of “trick or treat.” Where are the bonbons?!
    1. FACTS! I’m a scaredy-cat and rather eat French candy for Halloween all day long.
  3. French people view Halloween as an American holiday. Basically, an American invasion of their culture
    1. I see no lies here.
  4. Halloween is an excuse for people to spend money, thus jumping headfirst into the Capitalistic trap.
    1. My family feels the same way about how Easter and Christmas have turned into Capitalistic holidays. I can see how Halloween is an extension of that.
  5. Halloween is taking away from All Saints’ Day. This right here is the main reason Halloween is hated in France.
    1. All Saints’ Day is a public holiday and where all of France can spend time with their loved ones, which are more important than the American tradition of dressing up and begging for candy.

Before the trolls come for me and say, ” ThAts NoT tRuE! I lOvE HaLlOwEen!”

Don’t…

Of course, people from every country love and hate certain holidays regardless of where they come from. That’s not the point, though, is it? My town is pretty touristic, and as such, there are decorations and Halloween candy in the stores. The same can be said in other touristic places in France because they cater to tourists visiting their town between Halloween & Christmas. The Christmas decor is always up in my village so. Clearly, they cannot wait for December 25.

Let me know in the comments if you are a Halloween person or not. I would love to hear your opinions on “Do the French Hate Halloween?”

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