As I have previously written, “trick or treat” played little or no part of my Halloweens of the 1970s. It was a quaint American customer, something that you read about in Betsy Bryars’s novels but never experienced directly. The 31st October still meant apple bobbing, and a revival of Carry On Screaming on BBC2 and the US-style Halloween did not really emerge until the late 1980s – or, in France, as recently as the late 1990s.
At that time, American firms such as MacDonald’s began using Halloween themed advertising campaigns, and it was celebrated for the first time by Disneyland Paris in 1997. In that same year the writer Roger Cohen noted:
Every last rampart against things American seems to have fallen as more than 8,000 pumpkins have been spread across the Trocadero esplanade in Paris, stores have filled with ghoulish masks and inflatable pumpkin costumes, at least one champagne has adopted a special pumpkin label, bakeries have begun selling “Halloween cakes”, and villages have adopted Halloween festivals.
Mr. Cohen also quoted Marie-France Gueusquin, an ethnologist of Paris’s Museum of Arts and Popular Traditions as stating ‘I suddenly started seeing pumpkins everywhere in my local Monoprix supermarket and I had no idea what was going on. This is emphatically not a traditional French festival, and my only explanation is that we have belatedly discovered the power of marketing’. Three years later Bloomberg reported ‘Many Paris schools now invite children to wear costumes to school and parade through the streets, though trick-or-treating from house to house remains rare’.
But some observers noted that the phenomena already seemed to be on the wane by the mid-2000s. The reasons were various; it clashed with Toussaint Day (All Saints’ Day), and it was perceived as yet another example of US commercialism impinging on local culture. As for ideas for celebrating Halloween at Chateau de Bois Giraud, may I suggest commending the evening with this…? https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wAVI-BSmSy0