Beliefnet
October 31, PARIS (AP) - Halloween in France has taken on a new twist this year.

As kids picked up last-minute ghost and goblin costumes, the Catholic Church launched a campaign of its own Thursday - using rock music and a special new holiday cake.

The church is seeking to refocus attention on All Saints' Day, a religious holiday that falls a day after Halloween, and to keep French children away from American-style commercialization.

Television talk shows turned their attention to the subject. Bakeries passed out fliers about the Catholic holiday's patron saints, and a small group of protesters gathered outside Planet Hollywood on the Champs-Elysees to denounce the Halloween-mania that has gripped France.

Arnaud Guyot-Jeannin, president of "The No to Halloween Collective'' was quoted in Le Parisien newspaper as saying his group was comprised of Christians opposed to the commercialism of Halloween, in which ``the monstrous and the ugly is exalted.''

Critics say the holiday comes at the expense of All Saints' Day, which falls a day later and is celebrated in this majority Catholic country as a religious holiday and a day for families to pay respects to their ancestors.

The Catholic Church has taken the lead in creating a variety of activities it hopes will distract from the costumes and trick-or-treating.

The diocese - clearly targeting French youth - has organized a night of rock, reggae and R&B concerts to be held Halloween night in the square in front of Saint-Sulpice Church, off the posh Boulevard St. Germain. The church will be kept open all night to take confessions.

The church has also begun selling kits to bakers around France that include a ``secret recipe'' for an All Saints' Day cake. The kit comes with brochures detailing the lives of various saints, and the bakery is instructed to sell the cake at a lower price than its other pastries.

The issue was turned into a debate on all-day cable news channel LCI on Thursday, which took callers opinions on the topic: ``For or Against Halloween?''

One caller called it a form of ``American colonization,'' while another said she was alarmed at how quickly Halloween had taken root in France.

Only five years ago, store windows this time of year bore no trace of pumpkins and skeletons. Today, Paris is wrapped in witches' cloaks in the weeks leading up to Halloween, with restaurants and shops decorating their windows with goblins, spider webs and skeletons.

The Rev. Benoist de Sinety of the Paris diocese said the main issue was not American culture or globalization.

``We wanted to take the occasion to get people to reflect on something more profound than Halloween - the meaning of life,'' he said.

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