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27 Oct, 2023 18:22

Russia's largest region bans Halloween

The celebration is “inappropriate” amid efforts to preserve national cultural heritage, the Yakutian Education Ministry has said
Russia's largest region bans Halloween

Russia’s largest region of Yakutia has said that Halloween festivities should not take place in schools, with the education ministry arguing that the holiday could interfere with the goal of preserving the national heritage and traditions.

“This universally favored holiday is now being celebrated in our republic as well,” a statement on the ministry’s Telegram channel said, adding that the day has become particularly popular with “teens and youth.”

Despite the global appeal, however, the local educational authorities still “deem it inappropriate.” The statement said the advice came “in light of recent events” though it did not elaborate on which events it was referring to.

Instead of Halloween, schools should focus on education and events “preserving and strengthening moral values… patriotism, and protecting the historical heritage” of the country, they said.

Last week, the southern Krasnodar Region called on entrepreneurs to refrain from Halloween celebrations. In a letter sent to the heads of the region’s consumer enterprises, the authorities argued that such festivities “do not have cultural roots in the multinational culture” of the region. They did not ban the holiday outright, but said that it would not be “supported or promoted.”

Celebrated on October 31, Halloween traces its roots to the ancient Celtic harvest festivals that marked the beginning of a new year and the onset of winter. It has since evolved into a day of parties, costumes, scary movies, jack-o-lanterns and trick-or-treating for kids and adults.

Not all nations have embraced the tradition, though. African nations Rwanda and Ghana have banned it outright, citing concerns about potential witchcraft rituals as well as pointing to the need to preserve national cultures. Islamic authorities in Malaysia also said in 2014 that the nation’s Muslims should not take part in Halloween as it would go against Islamic teachings.

Russia has had a mixed attitude to the holiday. Although it has never been banned, the nation has seen repeated attempts to restrict Halloween. In 2013, the then spokesman of the Russian Orthodox Church, Fr. Vsevolod Chaplin, called it a dangerous holiday which could lead to “sickness, sadness, and despair.” That same year, the education ministry in Omsk Region in Siberia barred schools from marking the festivity, claiming it is a “death cult” that “promotes extremism.”

In 2017, Russian MP Vitaly Milonov, who is known for his pro-Christian and anti-gay stance, proposed a nationwide ban on such celebrations at schools and kindergartens. However, none of those initiatives have led to any changes in the federal authorities’ approach to the issue.