The adventures of a born-and-raised-in-Michigan girl (OK, woman) who's moved to Bavaria with her husband, kids, and dog.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Halloween 2006 Report

From what I'd heard, most Germans view Halloween as a "new" (six or seven years old), almost non-existent holiday. "Oh, right, these kids rang my doorbell and it's October 31st. I think I'll go look in the pantry and find something... or maybe just give them some money." Kind of like Sweetest Day, a pseudo-holiday trying to get off the ground (except I think this one will make it, as it's not pushed by Hallmark, but by American pop culture, which is generally seen as cool and trendy here).

What I experienced was that everyone was at least aware of the holiday... but not everyone buys candy and answers their door or carves pumpkins. It seems to be sporadic. In our neighborhood (full of empty nesters living in homes built in the 70s), our pumpkins were the only ones around.

Other neighborhoods with young families had up to a quarter of the houses with carved pumpkins outside. Martin says that nobody knows about following the rule with the outside lights on or off, but about a third of the houses had outside lights on. (Normally everyone is so energy-conscious the outside lights are rarely on and you rely on street lights instead when walking after dark.)

Nicholas enjoyed pushing the pumpkin pieces out that I carved to make the eyes, nose, etc. on his pumpkin. He wanted a "silly smiling mouth" and I did my best, he laughed out loud when it was finished so it must have been what he wanted.

The kids loved the whole costume idea, Stephanie cried when the costume came off after the trial run fitting. We went with a farm theme for costumes, here is our cow and chicken:

Our friend baby Anjali (16 months) came over to our house, and we snapped a few photos:

After a quick stop at a mutual friend's house to show off the kids, we separated and proceeded to a friend's house where more trick-or-treaters were out and about in the neighborhood. It is not uncommon for small groups of older trick-or-treaters (seven, eight, nine) to sing a song or two before receiving their treat. Everyone got a kick out of the kids' costumes and many tried out their English with Nicholas. (They say "suess oder sauer" (sweet or sour) instead of "trick or treat".)

Most of the costumes you can buy here are of the Halloween classics -- ghost, witch, skeleton, monster, pumpkin, etc. But I guess that is what is easily mass produced and what everyone here thinks of when they think of Halloween. Pumpkins are readily available alongside mums and heather outside the grocery stores and are also heaped into piles, roadside, in place of summer's "you pick" flower fields.

Interestingly, most Germans think it is a non-traditional "American" holiday imported via Hollywood, and are surprised when I relay the actual origins of the traditional pagan/Celtic holiday. The following day (today, Nov. 1) is a long-standing official holiday here. Ironically, All Saints Day was historically connected with the original Halloween celebrations... it's like trying to separate Christmas Eve from Christmas. (All Saints Day is essentially Memorial Day, where you visit the cemetary and remember family members.)

We will probably end up going to a park to fly Nicholas' new Spongebob kite, as it looks like the first windy day we've had since it arrived in the mail. Next week is the next big holiday celebrated here... I'll give you a hint... it's November 11th. Stay tuned!


Anonymous Anonymous said...

We love the photos of the kids in Halloween costume. They are so darling!!

Uncle Peter
Aunt Regina

5:19 PM


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