There is no Halloween in central Europe. Not really, anyway. Nobody gets dressed up, nobody eats too much candy, nobody wanders around public places in crazy outfits just because it’s the one day that they can.
As someone who loves all of these things, I am very sad that I basically missed Halloween.
Last year, I dressed up as the Silk Spectre from Watchmen. My roommate dressed up as Link from Ocarina of Time. Wonderfully and geekily Suited Up, we ran an in-costume 5k race in Anoka, MN before eating at Chipotle and going back to Olaf for way too much candy, followed by a “party”in the public safety switchboard office, about 5 minutes at a dance in which I met some random guys dressed as the other characters of Watchmen- I didn’t know their names and didn’t recognize them in real life later, so I have no clue who they were- and then went to a really bad haunted house in the company of the Dread Pirate Roberts himself.
I loved my costume. One person, I believe a then-sophomore at the switchboard party, took a picture, but I never saw it. I had a black leotard, a yellow long sleeved shirt, and spanx tights. My “boots” were actually very high legwarmers, by which I mean they almost replaced pants, worn with my black Nike Shox, all in all making a costume both more daring than I’d usually wear and easy to run in. I even, for the first time since mid-high school, straightened my hair.
Alas, alack, not this year. I did dress up for the 1st year initiation as Drowned Ophelia, to appease my 4th years- most of the ones there got the joke- but that is the closest I came to a “costume”. I know it’s a dumb westernized cash cow, but I really love Halloween, the candy, the outfits, the silliness. I also really appreciate the older pagan connections, though I make no claims to understanding the half of their deeper meanings.
Here, what matters is All Saint’s Day, on November 1st. Many people here, even those who aren’t particularly religious, go out to cemetaries to light candles and spend time at the gravesides of deceased relatives. Floral bouquets or wreaths are also a big deal to put on graves. While a beautiful tradition, it’s not easy for a visitor to join in- and there’s no candy involved.
I guess I also missed Halloween in a more figurative sense. Growing up, I always wanted to trick or treat and rarely had that stereotypical Halloween experience. By the time I was 7 or 8 in my old neighbourhood in Maryland, there were few kids and no one trick or treated anymore. When we moved to Ohio, our area had the same problem. I remember distinctly that my brother- who by then was 16 or so- was invited to trick or treat with his friends. My mom wanted him to take me along, and when he first said yes, then he said no. I was crushed- even though I didn’t know any of the other kids involved, I really wanted to wear a costume and go door to door like everyone else. I was incredibly shy then (which may or may not come as any sort of surprise), and it felt like one chance to be an idiot without anyone telling you that you were. In 7th grade I went trick or treating with my friend Amanda, or was going to, but her dad, an interesting fellow to say the least, proceeded to drive us around to different neighbourhoods saying “looks like no one is out here” and going to new ones. Suffice it to say, I didn’t get much candy that year. I finally went trick or treating in 9th grade, with a friend and her younger siblings, but by then I felt silly.
College, of course, for the first few years, was also a loss. Freshman year my roommate sprang on me at the last minute that she’d signed us up to take trick or treaters, when she’d expressed no interest after I had suggested it the week before. When I said too bad, I had choir to go to, she got upset. I can’t remember sophomore year at all, except my future roommate, then neighbour, got way too much candy from her mom. If anything, I recall eating too much candy and feeling sick, then eating more. If I missed some vital event, I’m sure she’ll share.
And then last year, which was actually fun. And then this year…void. I missed Halloween.