I've Always Disliked Halloween

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I know, Halloween is a month away, but we're at the end of September, so, meh. Close enough. Gives us a month to discuss things I guess.

Alright. So, I saw another post on the idea of Native American costumes being inappropriate for Halloween. Cultural appropriation, trivilization, etc. I'm not here to discuss that by itself, but what I've felt for awhile on the Halloween costume controversy is that it's systemic of a wider issue with Halloween itself. But to do that, I'll prompt a thought experiment.

Take any person in the Western world, and ask them "what is Easter about?" Chances are that even if they're not religious, they'll acknowledge that it commemorates the supposed death and resurrection of Jesus. Ask anyone what Christmas is about, and likely even more of them will know that it commemorates the supposed birth of Jesus. Now, to Little Jimmy who grows up among godless heathens, chances are that Easter translates to bunnies and chocolate, and Christmas translates to Santa and presents, but since we don't live in a cultural vacuum, I don't see him being unaware of the roots of these events for any period of time. However, ask anyone what the roots of Halloween are, and I'll hazard a guess that things get a lot more hazy. I mean, here's me complaining about Halloween, and even I had to check what I knew. So, to quote Wikipedia:

Is Little Jimmy going to know all that? No. Of course not.

So you may ask "Hawki, you're a godless atheist, why do you care that people don't care about the origins of a Pagan event that's been commercialized in the same way that Easter and Christmas have?" Well, Little Jimmy, I'll point out why despite my disillusionment with Christmas and Easter over the years (as in, I'm in a place where I actually kind of envy Christians these holidays, because they have a spiritual attachment that I don't and will never have), Halloween bugs me for a distinction apart from the lack of knowledge of its origins. Easter and Christmas are all about giving. Halloween, in its current form, is all about taking.

What do I mean by this? Consider Easter, where eggs are given between family and friends. Yes, it's chocolate, and chocolate's bad, but it's still being given. Consider Christmas, where family and friends exchange gifts and generally come to spend time with one another. Even if one takes away the spiritual side of these holidays, there's still arguably something to be said about this in a positive sense. Halloween though? It's little kids going from street to street, saying "give us candy or we'll egg you." Maybe not in those words, but that's the end result. I give kids candy, the kids eat candy, and...okay, what else? I dunno, maybe I'm missing something - I never did trick or treating, but it's become huge in Oz in recent years - but what actual 'goodness' is coming from this? It's at the point where over the last half decade or so I've effectively boycotted Halloween. I get some chocolates, leave them at home with family members, and head out to see a movie because I'll save the house from being egged, but I don't want to take any part in it. Humbug, maybe? Okay, sure, but what lesson does Halloween have to teach me as distinct from Christmas and Scrooge?

So, yeah. When people get into a fuss about costumes and "cultural appropriation" at Halloween, sometimes I can sympathize (e.g. Native American costumes), sometimes not (the whole "white kids shouldn't dress up as Black Panther" thing), but either way, I'm left to ask, well, this.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y0H3s1138xE

Because the whole costume thing is so far removed from Halloween in any shape or form, I feel it's kind of an inditement on the holiday itself. It's meaningless. It is so meaningless that we have to wear costumes and even then that's meaningless of itself because costumes don't have any theme. Maybe ghosts, but nup, even that isn't consistent. About the only thing worse than Halloween is Boxing Day Sales where we get to partake in consumerism after a day where the entire point is that it's more blessed to give than to receive, but nup, gotta get those sweet deals in somehow.

But, that's just me.

I'm of the belief that Holidays now a days should be enjoyed in a way that has meaning to you, especially due to this very issue. I haven't felt particularly special about Christmas for a very long time, mostly due to it's oversaturation EVERYWHERE, so for me it's a reason to spend time with the close family I don't see that much otherwise. Because otherwise it does feel meaningless due to it's detachment and oversaturation.

For me, Halloween/October tends to be when start reading/playing/watching Horror themed stuff, at least for a bit. The fact it gets cold and dark and rainy helps that mood a lot.

Hawki:
I know, Halloween is a month away, but we're at the end of September, so, meh. Close enough. Gives us a month to discuss things I guess.

Alright. So, I saw another post on the idea of Native American costumes being inappropriate for Halloween. Cultural appropriation, trivilization, etc. I'm not here to discuss that by itself, but what I've felt for awhile on the Halloween costume controversy is that it's systemic of a wider issue with Halloween itself. But to do that, I'll prompt a thought experiment.

Take any person in the Western world, and ask them "what is Easter about?" Chances are that even if they're not religious, they'll acknowledge that it commemorates the supposed death and resurrection of Jesus. Ask anyone what Christmas is about, and likely even more of them will know that it commemorates the supposed birth of Jesus. Now, to Little Jimmy who grows up among godless heathens, chances are that Easter translates to bunnies and chocolate, and Christmas translates to Santa and presents, but since we don't live in a cultural vacuum, I don't see him being unaware of the roots of these events for any period of time. However, ask anyone what the roots of Halloween are, and I'll hazard a guess that things get a lot more hazy. I mean, here's me complaining about Halloween, and even I had to check what I knew. So, to quote Wikipedia:

Is Little Jimmy going to know all that? No. Of course not.

So you may ask "Hawki, you're a godless atheist, why do you care that people don't care about the origins of a Pagan event that's been commercialized in the same way that Easter and Christmas have?" Well, Little Jimmy, I'll point out why despite my disillusionment with Christmas and Easter over the years (as in, I'm in a place where I actually kind of envy Christians these holidays, because they have a spiritual attachment that I don't and will never have), Halloween bugs me for a distinction apart from the lack of knowledge of its origins. Easter and Christmas are all about giving. Halloween, in its current form, is all about taking.

What do I mean by this? Consider Easter, where eggs are given between family and friends. Yes, it's chocolate, and chocolate's bad, but it's still being given. Consider Christmas, where family and friends exchange gifts and generally come to spend time with one another. Even if one takes away the spiritual side of these holidays, there's still arguably something to be said about this in a positive sense. Halloween though? It's little kids going from street to street, saying "give us candy or we'll egg you." Maybe not in those words, but that's the end result. I give kids candy, the kids eat candy, and...okay, what else? I dunno, maybe I'm missing something - I never did trick or treating, but it's become huge in Oz in recent years - but what actual 'goodness' is coming from this? It's at the point where over the last half decade or so I've effectively boycotted Halloween. I get some chocolates, leave them at home with family members, and head out to see a movie because I'll save the house from being egged, but I don't want to take any part in it. Humbug, maybe? Okay, sure, but what lesson does Halloween have to teach me as distinct from Christmas and Scrooge?

So, yeah. When people get into a fuss about costumes and "cultural appropriation" at Halloween, sometimes I can sympathize (e.g. Native American costumes), sometimes not (the whole "white kids shouldn't dress up as Black Panther" thing), but either way, I'm left to ask, well, this.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y0H3s1138xE

Because the whole costume thing is so far removed from Halloween in any shape or form, I feel it's kind of an inditement on the holiday itself. It's meaningless. It is so meaningless that we have to wear costumes and even then that's meaningless of itself because costumes don't have any theme. Maybe ghosts, but nup, even that isn't consistent. About the only thing worse than Halloween is Boxing Day Sales where we get to partake in consumerism after a day where the entire point is that it's more blessed to give than to receive, but nup, gotta get those sweet deals in somehow.

But, that's just me.

You summed up something I couldn't put my finger on, on why exactly I never cared for Halloween. I stopped doing trick or treating when I was 6 cuz it just seemed like there was no point or lesson to it, unlike Christmas and Easter. That's why I just reserve the week of Halloween to Day of the Dead.

For me Halloween is about giving back. The small town I'm from was great for Halloween when I was a kid. So now as an adult in the city where I live now I enjoy buying some candy, turning on the porch light, and providing kids another house to visit that doesn't have one of the red dots on the county offender search map online. Its kind of depressing how many of the residences around here have that red dot. And as far a costume, I have never dressed up as "something." At a young age my brothers would help me with a costume, and it was always some kind of abstract grotesque. I've always believed that Halloween costumes should be somehow existentially terrifying. So these days I do wind up scaring the kids knocking on my door... but they get candy for it so its ok. Even if they wind up having nightmares about my steel faceless hooded sombrero or my clownpainted Giger diamond snakeface with huge red shoes.

And its a good day to watch scary movies, play a survival horror game, and listen to the War of the Worlds radio broadcast again.

I think we should just abolish all religion, remove all religious context and association from everything, and just encourage positivity and enjoying life.

Cant we just enjoy dressing up in costumes and being silly?

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j4Aea2mGbOY

(I miss embedding videos)

"Halloween is the night we discover who we are. Are we people who make zombie armies? Are we those who condemn others? Or are we beautiful children in resplendent costumes collecting candy? Are our choices in costumes provocative? Do we dress up as our ideal self, or are we not ready to decide what to be? Do you see it now? We use this one enchanted night to perform the greatest feat of magic there is. We become ourselves. Halloween is the true magic. It is the night we discover who we really are."

But maybe I am just biased cause I used to use Halloween as an excuse to wear dresses.

I tend to spend it in the pub.

It's not as bad where I live now, but it used to just be an evening of teenagers in tracksuits and a crap mask asking for cash.

Now i am from Germany.

Germany has traditionally observed the Christian All-Hollows-Eve. Which is the eve before the day of all saints (Festum Omnium Sanctorum). Overall a very quiet and boring holyday, where you are supposed to be quite and introspective and think of the dead and the saints - it has never been a particular popular holyday.

We don't have Gaelic Samhain traditions. Sure, there were harvest festival traditions. But we never had Halloween or most things known from Halloween.

That is, until the last decades, where Halloween kind of got a bit popular as an American cultural import. And that is mostly about costumes and scary optics. Trick or treat does not play a mayor role and it certainly is not seen as acceptable to actually play any tricks. It is all about nice costumes, maybe some sweets and a bit decoration.

Germans seem to like dressing up. While Carneval is researved for silly costumes, the new Halloween is for darker costumes. Ok, there is also dresssing up for Walpurgis Night, but that is thematically more limited. But the more hollydays with costumes, the better.

As a recent import, it is not atually an official hollyday.

Satinavian:
As a recent import, it is not atually an official hollyday.

Halloween is not an official holiday in the US either. Most of the traditional Christian holidays like Easter, Pentecost or Ascension aren't US public holidays, with the exception of Christmas Day.

Saelune:
I think we should just abolish all religion, remove all religious context and association from everything,

Yes, because repressing religion has worked so well in the past...

Or present. Take your pick.

Cant we just enjoy dressing up in costumes and being silly?

Um, yes? That isn't an issue. Doesn't mean it's immune from critique.

There's a rationale behind cosplay for instance. How we got from Hallow's Eve to "here's a night where you can dress up as anything" is another matter.

Don't you think you're over thinking it a bit too much?

I've always seen Halloween as an excuse to dress up in costumes and go around to stranger's houses to ask for candy. And even when you're too old for that, you can always just go to Halloween parties.

(Or watch horror films but I've never liked those...)

Fine, whatever. It's your loss...

Hawki:

Saelune:
I think we should just abolish all religion, remove all religious context and association from everything,

Yes, because repressing religion has worked so well in the past...

Or present. Take your pick.

Cant we just enjoy dressing up in costumes and being silly?

Um, yes? That isn't an issue. Doesn't mean it's immune from critique.

There's a rationale behind cosplay for instance. How we got from Hallow's Eve to "here's a night where you can dress up as anything" is another matter.

I never said fixing the world was easy, but we should try.

You say that isnt an issue, but that is like, your entire criticism. Dont complain about costumes and Halloween then say that its not about that.

Dalisclock:
I'm of the belief that Holidays now a days should be enjoyed in a way that has meaning to you, especially due to this very issue. I haven't felt particularly special about Christmas for a very long time, mostly due to it's oversaturation EVERYWHERE, so for me it's a reason to spend time with the close family I don't see that much otherwise. Because otherwise it does feel meaningless due to it's detachment and oversaturation.

For me, Halloween/October tends to be when start reading/playing/watching Horror themed stuff, at least for a bit. The fact it gets cold and dark and rainy helps that mood a lot.

This the smartest thing said on this forum.

Hawki, if you don't enjoy the holiday, that is fine and all, but you don't need to go on a long winded rant about it. I've known and met many others who did not celebrate Halloween and got along or moved on with life just fine. Regradless if they were aware of the origins or not.

Saelune:
I think we should just abolish all religion, remove all religious context and association from everything, and just encourage positivity and enjoying life.

I agree with encouraging positivity and enjoying life, but abolishing religion does nothing. That is foolish ignorance and naive wishful thinking. I've seen many people enjoy Halloween just fine regardless of religion origin or lack thereof. They can co-exist just fine. Live and let live. True, there are others that don't agree to that, yet there are others that do. Halloween in my area is just all about having fun and enjoy yourself and those around you. Sharing tales and scary stories with your friends and family. The costumes kids, teens, and adults pull are amazing and some really go the extra mile to pull off unique or scary outfits. I may not dress up in costumes anymore, but I still have the Halloween spirit.

Hawki:
Take any person in the Western world, and ask them "what is Easter about?" Chances are that even if they're not religious, they'll acknowledge that it commemorates the supposed death and resurrection of Jesus. Ask anyone what Christmas is about, and likely even more of them will know that it commemorates the supposed birth of Jesus. Now, to Little Jimmy who grows up among godless heathens, chances are that Easter translates to bunnies and chocolate, and Christmas translates to Santa and presents, but since we don't live in a cultural vacuum, I don't see him being unaware of the roots of these events for any period of time. However, ask anyone what the roots of Halloween are, and I'll hazard a guess that things get a lot more hazy. I mean, here's me complaining about Halloween, and even I had to check what I knew. So, to quote Wikipedia:

Is Little Jimmy going to know all that? No. Of course not.

I mean, if your argument is "Little Jimmy won't know the pagan roots of Halloween" then surely that same logic applies to Easter and Christmas too? Despite the pagan symbolism in those two being far more prominent than their Christian symbolism.

I think honestly I might find Halloween to be more fun than Christmas. With Christmas there's a lot of travelling and I need to find gifts to suit all my family. With Halloween I can just chill with friends, drinking booze and wearing a fun costume. Its more lenient than Easter in what fun I can have, but more hassle free than Christmas, its great

Aren't Easter and Christmas just pagan rituals that Christianity co-opted?

I just like cosplay and any opportunity for women to dress like sexy nurses and maids and so on without asking for money first. :P

Halloween is LGBT Christmas.

To add some substance, most holidays are in some ways about reinforcing or celebrating tradition, meaning traditional institutions and societal convention. Christmas is the time you are obligated to spend with your awful biological relatives. Easter overwhelmingly revolves around parents and their young children. Both are also explicitly Christian and still have a strong religious component which people continually try to place at the heart of it.

Halloween is different. Halloween is the only well known holiday (other than pride) that is genuinely carnivalesque in the old-school sense. It's a time when you are specifically allowed to be weird, to break societal rules, to embrace things that are gross or uncomfortable or just excessive.

I don't think Saelune's experience is particularly rare. I used to use halloween as an excuse to cross dress long before I knew there was anything more to it than that. I think a lot of people who are trans or gay or just weird have used Halloween as a way to experiment with who they are. That's powerful and special, I think.

Dalisclock:
I'm of the belief that Holidays now a days should be enjoyed in a way that has meaning to you, especially due to this very issue.

Which works nicely for why Halloween is my 2nd favourite holiday of all.
I love the fall look, the cool air, the spooky atmosphere it can give, and pumpkins. Dunno why them specifically, but as Marge Simpson says... "I just think they're neat!" I also love Halloween for all of the creepy decorations, costumes, horror themed music, and the spookings. It's become tradition for me every year to dress up and scare trick or treaters at my place, and it's never stopped a year since I took it up over 10 years ago. I love the Halloween spirit! And these things are what it means to me personally, even though I acknowledge and agree it has nothing to do with its true origins.

Edit: Another tradition I have is that I always exclusively listen to music from Castlevania while driving my car on Halloween. Really sets the vibe if you ask me! I usually start with Symphony of the Night's theme for Dracula's Castle.

Saelune:
You say that isnt an issue, but that is like, your entire criticism. Dont complain about costumes and Halloween then say that its not about that.

I believe he meant to say that it isn't an issue nowadays with how most people celebrate it, just that it's the costumes and dressing up to give/take candy seems to have little to do with the origin of the holiday itself that is an issue. Just my guess though

I'm indifferent to it seeing as I'm from a country where Halloween was never a thing.

I am a bit annoyed however that corperations in my country are trying to make it a thing. Not that there's anything wrong inherently with that I guess, but it sorta smacks of 'America is doing it, so let's do it too', eventhough it has no cultural sigificance to us and we have a perfectly fine dress-up holiday of our own (Carnaval, which I still hate, but it at least feels at home here).

To me it looks like they are setting up Christmas aisles. Supermarkets and department stores are getting lazy. It's like only the Summer and Christmas seasons exist anymore.

There didn't use to be Halloween where I grew up. Instead it was the Dead's Day, where offerings for the deceased family members were made in colorful decorated altars to remember them and celebrate their life. It comes from an Aztec tradition that persisted despite the Church's attempts to suppress it (until they said: f*ck it, have it be part of the All Saint's Day and let them be).

But in the past decades, Halloween has taken more popularity.

McElroy:
To me it looks like they are setting up Christmas aisles. Supermarkets and department stores are getting lazy. It's like only the Summer and Christmas seasons exist anymore.

Wait, they're not even waiting until November to start that anymore?

If there's a War on Christmas, I'm all for it. Christmas needs to get pushed back to the back half of December where it belongs and stop trying to consume the rest of the calender.

Dalisclock:

McElroy:
To me it looks like they are setting up Christmas aisles. Supermarkets and department stores are getting lazy. It's like only the Summer and Christmas seasons exist anymore.

Wait, they're not even waiting until November to start that anymore?

If there's a War on Christmas, I'm all for it. Christmas needs to get pushed back to the back half of December where it belongs and stop trying to consume the rest of the calender.

Nope. I've seen Christmas Decorations out by Columbus Day in past years. This year I've had a few relatives claim to have already seen a few stores setting out a Christmas section. And as someone who loves Fall and the fall holidays/festivals, I find that immensely frustrating.

Where I live, Halloween is just another example of mindlessly aping things the US does, or is believed to do. Don't see people making their own costumes, just kids walking round in cheap, not quite copyright infringing superhero costume knockoffs.

I could see the appeal if everyone came up with their own stuff to express themselves, doesn't seem to happen here.

I personally never put much emphasis on holidays when I was younger, being an atheist.

Having grown up, and having 3 god daughters that I routinely spend Halloween with, it's become just a night to have fun. It's not about any ritual thing or whatever. It's a chance for their mother, to express her creative arts skills, making up their costumes. It's a chance for the girls to play "dress up" out in public, and to do it with friends in a social setting. It's a chance to invite other kids over to join in the "pack" to go from house to house, showing off their outfits, and being rewarded with candy for their "spooky outfits!" It's a chance for them to share candy with friends, by plopping down in the kitchen at the end of the night, and play "I'll trade you all my snickers for your kit kats". It's for them to have fun at night, which is normally not something that we do these days in regards to children. It's a chance for the regular neighborhood to become altered and strange, as people put up elaborate displays and front yard haunted houses, playing spooky audio tracks that can be heard from down the street, giving the night a creepy vibe to it, as the kids psych each other up to go through the haunted house. It's a chance to just wander around, in relative safety and ease, passing by lots of new, random people, and commenting about outfits and having fun.

Like all holidays, it's basically just a socially agreed upon excuse to get together, under the auspice of appreciating the company of those around you, and expressing your feelings for them in a positive way.

We have fun, and that's about all there is to it really.

Happyninja42:
It's a chance for the regular neighborhood to become altered and strange, as people put up elaborate displays and front yard haunted houses, playing spooky audio tracks that can be heard from down the street, giving the night a creepy vibe to it, as the kids psych each other up to go through the haunted house.

My personal favorite has to be the musically coordinated lightshow houses. Granted, I imagine the neighbors might get annoyed at those homes if they regularly 'perform', but as an outsider who rarely sees it, I love the showmanship.

Asita:

Happyninja42:
It's a chance for the regular neighborhood to become altered and strange, as people put up elaborate displays and front yard haunted houses, playing spooky audio tracks that can be heard from down the street, giving the night a creepy vibe to it, as the kids psych each other up to go through the haunted house.

My personal favorite has to be the musically coordinated lightshow houses. Granted, I imagine the neighbors might get annoyed at those homes if they regularly 'perform', but as an outsider who rarely sees it, I love the showmanship.

In my experience, the neighbors are usually well aware of the person's habit of doing a big display, and they know it's just the one night a year anyway, so it's hardly a huge issue. I'd personally be more annoyed with the Christmas lunatics that light up the entire damn block for like a month or two. If I had to choose, I'd take one night (and really just a few hours anyway) over 2 months of glaring annoyance any day of the week. :P

I find Halloween pretty difficult to get worked up about, even though it's a bit tacky and quasi-Americanized here in the UK. It's a bit of fun for the kids, even though in most of my country it's not socially acceptable to talk to your neighbours, much less ask them for sweets (in fact that goes diametrically against the advice of the childhood PSA campaigns we had). Adult Halloween parties are a pretty good excuse for fancy dress, even though it seems like every female has collectively misread "spooky" as "slutty" and just ran with the idea with nary a look back (but again, no real complaints there). On the subject of the origins of the festival? Who gives a hoot. Christmas and Easter have been thoroughly rid of their Christian roots, let alone their pagan roots; I don't think "fun" events should be required to stay true to their roots. If people enjoy it, let them interpret it as they will.

No doubt there'll be the traditional minority group complaining that somebody of the "wrong" colour dared to wear a costume or play a character outside of their race. Because of course the entire globe is welcome to wear Western clothes, speak English and eat McDonalds 365 days a year, but if I want to be a tipsy Viking for one evening of the year that's an insult to Wiccans and Odinists, or something. Pfft.

Agreeing mostly with evilcats assessment so far, as it's a time to feel fabulous - no doubt for girls too - and one of the few excuses for me to be an out-and-out weirdo without attracting too much negative attention. Also using ouija boards to troll the afterlife into losing their shit and accidentally proving they exist...one day, eventually. Just like Christmas is a good excuse for self-indulgence and alcoholism. And easter is...well, fuck Easter.

Im from the UK, and my parents have never liked Halloween, so I grew up in a house where it was never celebrated.

All of my childhood friends loved to go around and do trick-or-treating, but I only ever got to tag along twice - the first time we were taken to church after 30 minutes, and the second time I walked up to a door and the guy told me I was too old to go trick-or-treating.

As an adult, I have taken my general indifference with Halloween with me. Sure, its goofy, and I appreciate that kids have a great time with all of the sweets, but im not into dressing up, im very much so not into horror movies, and anything else seems like a waste of time and money to me.

But my girlfriend loves Halloween, so it will be interesting to see how we navigate that one.

I have already had to talk her down from decorating our house on the 1st October.

Is Halloween even a thing outside the US?

I never got to celebrate Halloween growing up so I am somewhat indifferent to it as an adult. Some years I dress up and go out with friends, some I don't. But who actually cares what the origins of the holiday are? Every holiday has been commercializated all to fuck and their origins obscured. Let people have their fun I say. At the very least, it's an excuse to dress funny and get plastered.

In Asia, at least where I am, the only people who really celebrate it are foreigners anyway, usually by making elaborate costumes and getting wrecked up in overpriced clubs and bars. Sometimes the natives get involved, but they are the types that hang with foreigners all the time anyway. It's stupid but it's fun and a lot of people put some serious effort into their costumes so that is nice to see too.

Johnny Novgorod:
Is Halloween even a thing outside the US?

See my first post.

But yes, Halloween's become a thing over here. Probably not as big as the US, but certainly bigger than when I was a kid.

I do not have the inclination to do the arts and crafts to make my own costume, and I'm not willing to spend money on buying one. And I don't like zombie or horror movies. Therefore, I get exceedingly little out of Halloween.

At least Thanksgiving and Christmas have the good eats.

Johnny Novgorod:
Is Halloween even a thing outside the US?

Oh yes. Well, trying to be.

It's mainly pushed by corporate business in the retail sector, as an excuse to sell more useless tat to the public.
Actually, it might be like that within the US too, for all I know.

TopazFusion:

Johnny Novgorod:
Is Halloween even a thing outside the US?

Oh yes. Well, trying to be.

It's mainly pushed by corporate business in the retail sector, as an excuse to sell more useless tat to the public.
Actually, it might be like that within the US too, for all I know.

I mean it's a "thing" here too in that some shops will put up decorations on the display. That's about it. Kids don't trick-or-treat, and it sure as shit doesn't mean anything to anyone.

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