On February 2, every year, Luxembourgish people celebrate “Liichtmessdag”, which means:Candlemas. This day is related to St Blaise and is also related to the Presentation of Jesus Christ and the Purification of the Blessed Virgin Mary. For whatever religious reasons this is meant for, the celebration that comes with it, is interesting.
On this day children make their own lanterns, usually at school. Upon returning from school, they walk around the neighbourhood with a few parents. During this ‘tour’, they ring home bells and sing a song wishing the owners health. In return they get sweet treats and sometimes a few coins too.
It is interesting that such cultural happenings are similar in other parts of the world. For example where I grew up, in Kuwait, a very similar tradition took place during the month of Ramadan. It also involved lanterns that are made with different colours. These ones are usually made in China and sold with cheap prices in local bazaars.
In the same way, children who are accompanied by older siblings, would wear traditional costumes , holding home made fabric bags and knocking on doors. Once the door opens, the children start singing a traditional song asking to be given treats that in return God may reward the house owner with blessings.
I remember very well when we used to fight for who is going to get the best sweets. During those days, the chocolate coconut bar called Bounty was considered top of the range. And for some of us, it was way above our little pocket money. So whoever was lucky to get a Bounty or a Kit Kat bar, was considered king. Most of the time they traded a piece of it for a service or two pieces of another candy.
Just today, I went for some shopping in the supermarket and passed by at least 10 rows of confectioneries, followed by more rows of crisps, crackers and popcorn. It was hard to notice any Bounty or Kit Kat bars, as they were buried under tonnes of other sweets, one could almost get full just by looking at these heaps.
Although the joy one sees in the eyes of children when receiving these treats is great, I bet it cannot compete with the pleasure we got out of a small bite from our favourite once in a blue moon chocolate bar !
As for the rest of the world, I guess Halloween is taking care of the trick or treat part, and though the original Halloween is an ancient festival, the way it is commercialised these days, it sure belongs to our current materialistic reality.