After the fall of communism, Russia eagerly adopted Western and especially American traditions. Among these was the celebration of Halloween. Over the years, the holiday had become increasingly popular. It was even popularized by some officials and universities.
Above is a 2011 photo of a Halloween study class in the University of Tomsk, the Siberian city with population of more then half of million people.
For several years, Halloween flash mobs were regularly organized in the center of St. Petersburg. Hundreds of the young people were dancing to the music of Michael Jackson “Thriller”.
But this year the situation started to change. There were many signs of activity of those who consider Halloween to be one of the sign of the Western influence, anti–Russian, anti–Orthodox Religion and distractive.
One of the events was widely covered this week in Russian Internet.
On the evening of October 31 at the Park of the St. Petersburg district of Kupchino there were officially organized Halloween festivities. About two thousand people participated. Officials were leading the crowds, several competitions were held, candles were lit, and peddlers were selling goods.
In the middle of festivities a well-known politician, chairmen of the Law Committee of the St. Petersburg City Parliament Vitaly Milonov, appeared in the park.
Milonov is known as the initiator of the law forbidding “propaganda of homosexuality” and other “anti-western” initiatives of the last years.
Kupchino Park has a monument to the solders that were killed in the Afghan war and there is a church nearby. Milonov considers this park improper place for celebrating Halloween. A member of the City Parliament, he arrived in the park with several activists from social and religious organizations and movements. They announced the suspension of the carnival due to technical reasons. They called the police who arrived to help to throw 2.000 young people out of the park.
“In Kupchino freaks had a convening of Satanists near an Orthodox cross and the monument to the fallen soldiers…. We managed to stop the Black Sabbath. Forces were not equal. But we managed to protect Holly Cross”.
Milonov says he is going to find out who were the organizers of the festivities and sue them.
This year, on the eve of this Halloween, the Ministry of Education of the Omsk Region banned Halloween celebrations in local schools.
Not long ago Halloween was studied in the University of this city. Now the Ministry called Halloween an “event, promoting the formation of youth extremism.” The Ministry referred to “a study” by the Institute of Pedagogical Innovations of the Russian Academy of Education, which claims that the mystical elements of the holiday and the “propaganda of the cult of death” could have a devastating impact on the mental health of the students.
Several regions of Russia approached the Government with requests to prohibit celebration of Halloween. Representatives of the Diocese of the Russian Orthodox Church in the Lipetsk Region sent letters to schools demanding the ban on the holiday. In Kazan a local Muslim imam spoke out against the celebration of Halloween.
The Cossacks and Representatives of the Orthodox Diocese of Pyatigorsk, Krasnodar region, demanded the administration of the city prohibit organizing for the Halloween holiday. The priest Andrei Sahno, head of the Diocese department on work with young people, wrote: “I consider Halloween celebration absolutely unacceptable… Celebrating Halloween had been imposed on us for 20 years, and its image is known: drinking spree, grimacing and mockery of death, and thus mockery of the memory of our relatives and friends.” The diocese called Halloween “frankly satanic holiday, as the followers of satanic sects indicate themselves.”
As a result the Ministry of Education of the Krasnodar Region recommended that Halloween not be celebrated in the educational institutions of the region.
The fight over Halloween in Russia started many years ago. The Russian Orthodox Church believes that Halloween is doing great harm to the younger generation. In 2003 a newsletter of the Ministry of Education was published advocating a ban on the celebration in Russian high schools , describing the holiday as “alien to the Russian mentality”. But the first real steps to end the celebration in Russia were taken this year.
Here is how Russian web site “NewHouse.ru” comments on these steps:
“Experts of the Ministry of Education suggest that children be taught Russian traditions and that new school holidays be created that meet the domestic cultural values.
“In this, many see the true political reason for the bans on Halloween. Halloween is a uniquely American holiday, which allegedly hurts the patriotic mood of young Russians, and in fact promotes America – a country that is being accused by the Kremlin in various intrigues against the Russian government”.