The Great Halloween / Oktoberfest Controversy

It's Halloween time again, and that means, of course, lots of Germans complaining. More and more Germans, many of them familiar with American Halloween because they studied or attended high school in the States, are celebrating October 31st as yet another excuse to party (the Germans have so many holidays it is hard to imagine that they need more excuses to party, but there's just no stopping them). Retail of course is getting in the act and parents are even beginning, slowly, to take their children out on the streets in costumes (even German kids are always looking for and finding new excuses to party).

Predictably, German newspapers join in the fun by sounding the alarm: Halloween, they write, is not German, and therefore will eventually make Germany less German and more American.

Well, I'm here to say they are right, and it's time we did something about it. I propose an trans-Atlantic pact at the highest levels of government in which Germany agrees to forbid Halloween if America agrees to forbid Oktoberfest.

Have you noticed how Oktoberfest is becoming more and more ubiquitous? While it used to be restricted to towns with a history of heavy German immigration, it is now celebrated almost everywhere. There are few towns, from Honolulu to New York, where you can't find at least a few bars or restaurants that offer Oktoberfest parties, and the website lists over 125 full-blown Oktoberfest celebrations nationwide. The strangest of all to me is this: While newspapers used to have to explain what Oktoberfest is and where it comes from, more and more it's become natural to speak of the annual Oktoberfest celebration and to assume that all Americans know what it is.

If we don’t put this to a stop now, Americans will soon become so Germanized that they will replace American Christmas with German Weihnachten and good old Easter with that foreign Ostern. Even worse, they will start demanding good beer instead of that watery stuff whose low quality is so important to the profit margins of traditional American breweries.

And when we've done away with that, let's take a go at Christmas too, shall we? The Christmas tree comes from Germany, the ornaments are German, Santa Claus is about 90% a German invention and the songs – O Tannenbaum? Why can't we sing something more American?


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