Cossacks, Church Demand Ban on Halloween Celebrations

Cossacks and Russian Orthodox Church leaders in South Russia’s Stavropol Territory demanded on Thursday cancellation of Halloween celebrations organized by a local city administration.


Authorities of the resort city of Pyatigorsk announced they would organize a “Halloween Party” at a city square to give young people an opportunity to learn the history and traditions of the holiday.


“I consider it absolutely unacceptable for certain reasons. Halloween celebrations have been imposed on us for 20 years, and we are perfectly aware of how it all looks: revelry, baboonish behavior and scoffing at death, and thus at the memory of our deceased loved ones, whom all of us certainly have” said Andrei Sakhno, who heads the youth department at the local diocese.


The head of the Stavropol city Cossack community, Anatoly Smolnov, said he fully agreed with the church’s opinion.


“I believe this holiday must be banned,” he said.


The regional education ministry also recommended canceling the event, saying it “contradicted the principle of secular education and could have a destructive impact on young people’s morals and mental health.”


Halloween, which once marked the end of summer and the harvest and the beginning of winter, gained popularity in Russia after the Soviet collapse, with the first Halloween parties held in Russian schools in the late 1990s.


But in 2003, the Education Department of the city of Moscow recommended that primary and secondary school teachers ban Halloween at schools.


According to a recommendation issued by the department, the holiday stems from “rituals of Satanically oriented religious sects” and promotes “the cult of death.” Quoting psychologists, the document’s author concludes that Halloween celebrations “mystify and satanize a child’s mind,” leading to the “moral corruption of children.”


Halloween is not the only holiday considered “improper” by Russian conservatives. The increasing popularity of St. Valentine’s Day among Russian youths has also alarmed some high-ranking officials and religious authorities, who have warned of the holiday’s “negative influence” on the youngsters’ “spiritual security” and their “moral values.”


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