Sunday, October 31, 2010

Some Thoughts on Halloween

Austria doesn't really do Halloween like we do in the U.S. but there are some subtle reminders here and there that sort of put me in a Halloween mood. For example, this strange, hairy orange flower, for sale at a Vienna shop:

Or this broom and pumpkins:

Or these colorful pumpkins on stone steps in Durnstein:

And this iconic ivy-covered wrought iron gate and steps to a vacant lot in Hallstatt:

And then there are other, not so subtle reminders, like this winged skull in Salzburg:

Or this stone carving of a headless torso:

And this one. Gads, what an awful thought:

While we celebrate Halloween and try not to think too deeply about its aspects that remind us of our mortality, perhaps the reason it is not so celebrated in Europe is because there are many historical reminders here of death and horror. While history and carvings like these teach us about human capacity for cruelty, often motivated by greed, intolerance or anger, it seems that it takes much more strength of character to find the power and the path to kindness, understanding and generosity. Is there a fast track to making us truly civilized that doesn't include hard and awful lessons? Haven't we had enough of those?

Happy Halloween.


  1. Hi Martha,

    Your blog and photos are beautiful. I would like permission to share a few of your photos on my alpine pinterest board. I live in the USA, and love the Austrian, German cultures. My ancestors are from Austria, and Germany. I will of course link back to your blog, giving you full credit. Thank you.

    1. Hi, thanks for your comments and thanks so much for asking. I have some concerns which I'd like to explain...and I apologize in advance for getting a bit lengthy here.

      While I enjoy looking at Pinterest, I've been reluctant to put any of my photos there (or on because it is my understanding that I would be giving complete ownership of the images to that company to do whatever they want. It doesn't seem fair that someone else, particularly a big company, could take my rights away and make money off my work without my knowledge or permission. I don't know if I could ever sell any of my images and at this point have no plans to do so but who knows what I might need to do in retirement, especially if these financial crises continue. I know this is way more than you thought you'd get a simple 'yes' or 'no' answer and I'm not telling you either.

      So here's the deal: for the legal record, I'm not putting the photos up on any site that presumes to take my rights away and thereby I retain my copyrights. Anything readers of my blog might do with my photos is not under my control. I do appreciate receiving credit for my images.

      On a personal note, I appreciate your interest in the Austrian-Germanic heritage and hope my site will continue to bring you some pleasure. And again, I apologize for not being able to give you a simple answer.

  2. I completely understand...I did not know that about pinterest! Thank you for sharing that information. I'll be careful as well in sharing my own photos on pinterest as well. Again, your blog's writing/photos are a delight. Best wishes. Jenny

  3. Thanks, Jenny...I don't understand all the legal aspects of this nor do I understand why these sites insist that they will own other people's images. Anyway, I'll look for your Alpine pins....Cheers, Martha