What is it about American holidays that makes them so popular around the world? Are they simply fun or is it all about marketing, selling holidays, and entertainment?
Growing up in Romania, I looked forward to two major annual holidays: Easter and Christmas, with Easter far surpassing Christmas celebrations. Besides the joy of dying eggs for Easter and unwrapping the one present for Christmas, the holidays were all about traditions, special dishes – lamb for Easter, pork for Christmas – and family gatherings. There were other smaller celebrations throughout the year, all with deep roots in Romanian traditions and beliefs, but no Valentine’s Day, Fourth of July, or Halloween.
I recall the first time I attended a Halloween party. It was in 1997, at the American Embassy in Bucharest. The party was thrown by a bunch of American marines and attended by American expats plus a handful of Romanians. It was fun, but it was basically all American. I also recall the first time I read about a Halloween party organized by Romanians. It was at Dracula’s Castle (Bran Castle) and it was targeted towards American expats. It made sense. However, things took off from there, so much so that today, Halloween is celebrated everywhere and by everyone in Romania. Elaborate costumes, parties, cakes, you name it, take a look here:
All of it with one exception: there’s no trick-or-treating in the neighborhood. I guess imported holidays don’t have the basic rooted elements?
Enough about Halloween, let’s talk a bit about a not-so-scary holiday, Valentine’s Day. While Romanians celebrated love in early spring, it had its own name, Dragobete, and had nothing to do with Valentine. It took less than a decade for Valentine’s Day to become as big as in the U.S., if not bigger. Not only roses and chocolates, but heaps of jewelry, gifts for kids, for parents, one more reason for business to cash in.
As if not odd enough, consider Fourth of July celebrations! Advertised as “American style parties”, 4th of July extravaganzas are more and more popular with Romanians. Figure that one out. Here is an ad for a 4th of July party at SOFA restaurant in Bucharest:
What’s next? Thanksgiving and turkeys? Pilgrims around the world? What’s your take? Is it all business and marketing? Is it just Romania or do you know of other parts of the world where American holidays have been imported? Please comment below.