Sunday, October 19, 2008

On Halloween... in Brasil and the U.S.

October 18-19, 2008

E-mail was exchanged about the significance of Halloween in the two countries, about how the churches look at it, about whether or not it is or should be celebrated in schools. The cultural exchange was a significant step in bringing our students closer together.

Cathy, Thank you for your precious information on Halloween. There are some schools here that belong to Protestant churches and so students are taught under such a belief. Private and public schools are legally "lugares laicos", which means, places without a religious orientation. In order to avoid any problems with students' parents, in general, our schools (they are allowed to have religious celebrations) make what we call as "celebrações ecumênicas" which is ceremonies in which there are believers of different religious segments. For example, we are used to celebrating the date of the foundation of our school with an ecumenic celebration, in which believers of Candomble (afrobrazilian religion, catholics, baptists, etc) say something to the audience. But we, for instance, can have a Catholic mass at school, in a special occasion, without any problems. The problem would be having such a mass systematically speaking. I would say to you that, reasonable public school principals are to invite believers of several segments to celebrate an important date at school, if they want to avoid problems with this or that person. ---Tyrone

Em 14:04, escreveu:

Tyrone, That will be fine for the students to find information about the places in Salvador. It will help my students to learn more about your culture. One of the problems we face here is making the students understand they must give credit to where they found their information. Don't forget to have them copy the address of everything they cut and paste.

On Halloween, yes, we celebrate in the school, more with the younger children up through 5th grade. They wear costumes -- some witches and goblins, but more often they dress like their favorite cartoon and movie characters. There are only a few parents who oppose this. Usually the children parade through the projects where the children live, led by the local fire department, with teachers and older students taking care of the little ones.
This year they will have a haunted house in the gym at the school. They have a less scary version for the younger children.

The majority of our "believers" treat Halloween as the holiday it has evolved to become. It is a fun day to dress up, carve jack-o-lanterns, and go trick-or-treat to get candy at peoples houses. Some Catholic and Protestant churches and families oppose celebrating Halloween because of its history. Instead they will have "All Hallow's Eve Festivals" or Fall Festivals at the churches. The children will dress up as their favorite Bible character or as something God made. Do your schools allow religious celebrations? Most of ours do not. To our country to have religious observances in public schools is a violation of right to worship or not worship.

I think it would be a fun thing for your children to do Internet research to find out how Halloween started (in Ireland, I believe) and to scare away evil spirits. They can also follow through history, how it became the "fun holiday" that it is today.

I will try to remember to have one of my students take pictures. Then we can upload them to our Orkut space for your students to see some of the costumes. --Cathy

From Tyrone:

Cathy, Instead of asking my students to write comments on your students photos posted at our Orkut, I will ask them to find suitable texts about Salvador pictures. (My students are too young, and they would just make questions or sentences such as: You are handsome, or you are beautiful. what is your Orkut account, etc, kkkkkkkkkk) I have had another idea in case you accept my proposal of the activity explained in the former e-mail:

For instance, they will look for a text using Google website, dealing with our famous Bomfim's church. After having found a small text with at least two paragraphs on Bomfim' church, they will copy and post it at the churches' album. I think this strategy is better, as they would not only look for texts using a formal Portuguese that I think it might be better to be translated by your class-, but also they would be able to understand better about their own culture!!! What do you think about it? I look forward for you response... --Tyrone

Cathy, There is something very interesting and curious I would like to talk to you and share information with you: it is about Halloween party here in Brazil.

As I have told you, Halloween here is just celebrated at private English institutes, some private and public schools. This celebration will completely depend on English teachers' desire to do it, mainly at either private or public schools. But, sometimes celebrating Halloween here is not a piece of cake, as there are some students whose parents don't allow them to participate or attend Halloween parties at school, as they are churchgoers, "believers", and they think Halloween deals with devil matters...In addition, although there are lots of students that love Halloween here, they just see this date as an occasion in which they can wear black clothes, vampire ones, witch ones, etc. In general, we teachers of English have been treating Halloween as a superficial folklore, without making our students see its real essence and history. Maybe this is the last year I celebrate Halloween with my students, because I don't want them to think that Halloween is meaningless, a party related to vampires, witches, evil, etc. (Even when we explain them about Halloween's history, they insist on having a celebration of this holiday as a folklore with the witches in black, vampire, bats, monsters, and so on...
My questions are:
Do you face such problems in US?
How do you celebrate Halloween at your school?
Do your students go there wearing typical dresses? which ones?
Do you face any problems related to students' parents' beliefs? If so, how do you deal with it? Do you have any idea whether Halloween is "an embarrassing date" at schools in the US or not?
What do you think about the pedagogical approaches in which Halloween is just seen as a folklore?
Thanks! Bye! ---Tyrone


  1. nice article has posted, i simply loved this to know how much we are close to halloween . .
    with the language in US . .
    learn english language

  2. very interesting! Spanish courses will definately open a new gateway to communicate and share culture and information....spaans leren