Happy Halloween. Say what? That was me 14 years when we had just moved to Canada. I had barely heard of Halloween, and what I had made me think – huh? The months from October to December are already packed with back to back birthdays and festivals that this odd, spooky day at the end of October never really made an impact on my Indian consciousness.
Why Halloween is part of my family’s Indian festival season
In the early days when my hubby and I had just moved to Canada, Halloween was more about watching people get all dressed up and having fun in downtown Toronto. Over the years I finally get the part Halloween plays in this already crazy time of year that is packed with Thanksgiving, Dussehra, Diwali, all the way to Christmas and New Year’s. It’s Halloween that says, “Don’t take life too seriously. Unless it’s candy, then do…..take it seriously.”
Over the years I’ve come to accept Halloween as a non-denominational celebration of all things shiny, scary and delicious. Many religions don’t recognize this holiday (mine included). But if you’ve just moved to Canada from parts where Halloween is not a tradition and you’re not looking forward to the dreary winter, Halloween’s the perfect excuse to colour in the gloomy days.
How to Celebrate Halloween in a Multicultural Home
Start with the decorations. If your house looks dressed up for this spooky day, kids will come. Small pumpkins and scarecrows work unless you want to go whole hog with a fake cemetery and skeletons crawling out of graves. It’s been done so you won’t feel out of place.
Next come the costumes. Let’s be honest, where ever you are in the northern hemisphere it will be cold. Think of costumes that can show off their character on top of a winter jacket. A pirate hat and hook, a Super Girl cape, chunky accessories all work very well. We have learnt our lessons from the many Halloweens spent in Calgary where it snowed every year – without fail. Over the years the best costume was a present from a dear friend – a meticulously hand-made pumpkin with beautiful detailing that was roomy enough to fit a parka inside.
Going out for “Trick or Treat”. This one may seem a little odd – knocking from door to door asking for candy. The thing is you don’t really ask, people give. Especially if you watch out for the signs of Halloween, you know the house is ready for Trick or Treaters.
Finally the good stuff. Candy. Reciprocation applies here – think of what you would like to eat and then make sure you have that candy in the bowls to hand out at your end. Consider pre-wrapped and include nut free, allergen-free options to include as many kids as possible. If you’re a lover of peanut butter flavoured candy then perhaps two separate bowls may work, so you don’t mix up the allergens.
A Visit From The Witch
At the end of the night be thankful for the Switch Witch. A dear friend introduced the concept to us a couple of years ago. Make no mistake the Switch Witch will save your sanity for weeks to come.
Once the day is done, have the kids prioritize their haul. Then bag the candy that isn’t at the top of their fave list, and hang it outside the door for the Switch Witch overnight. In the morning the candy disappears and is replaced by a toy or book of their choice. I suggest go cheap but useful because you know Christmas is round the corner. What you do with the candy that you got in return is up to you. I will not judge!
A New Canadian’s Tongue-In-Cheek guide to Halloween