Halloween was a bit of a bust here, as you know if you read my blog posting of November 5, with a total of just five trick-or-treating kids at our place that evening.
But last night, we had a whole other Halloween experience. Fright Night Friday. The Mob that Devoured Candies. Drumbeats in Daglan. The Children Take the Streets.
Just you wait.
It all began on Thursday morning, while I was in front of the house, vacuuming my car. Down the road came our friend Sophie (Sophie the Bread-Baker, as opposed to another friend, Sophie the Jeweller), to ask if my wife Jan and I could do a favour.
The Amicale Laïque (club) was hosting an Autumn and Halloween Festival (Fête d’automne et d’Halloween) for families on Friday night, and it would include a walk through the village, led by a group of drummers. (Also on the agenda, singing by Daglan’s school children; a chili dinner; and a contest for the best costumes.) Our role was to welcome the parade at our door, ask two Halloween-related questions of the kids, and then hand them each a small bag of candies. Of course I said that we’d be glad to help.
It was made wonderfully easy for us, because everything had been prepared. Sophie handed me a carved-out white squash with a candle inside; we were to light it on Friday night and place it on the front steps so the kids would know to stop at our house. She also gave me a green plastic bag, full of smaller bags of candies, and two cards with the questions we were to ask.
Here is the first one, which asks for the name of the expression in the Harry Potter books for killing someone — in other words, the Killing Curse. As you can see, the answer is Avadakédavra!! (Although I’ve also seen it written as two words, Avada Kedavra.)
The second question asks for the name of the big book of magic formulas or spells used by sorcerers or witches. The answer, evidently, is un grimoire.
And here’s our bag of candies, sitting on our kitchen counter and ready for Friday night:
Unfortunately, the weather on Friday kept deteriorating, with a fairly steady rain falling by the late afternoon. By that point, Jan and I were pretty sure that the torchlight stroll through the village (la balade aux flambeaux) would be cancelled.
Nevertheless, I lit the candle in our white squash and put it on the front steps just before 7 p.m., when Jan and I went to the TV room to watch a program. Here’s how the squash looked when I put it outside, just as the rain stopped falling:
At 7:30, we went back to the front door to look for any action. There wasn’t any to be seen — at least right away — but then we could hear the drummers in the distance, heading our way.
(The drummers are a group of young people from neighbouring St. Pompon who often feature in local parades and similar events; they are quite good, and quite loud. I’m sorry I can’t deliver the sound for you, so as you’re reading this you should just try to imagine the soundtrack from the last film you saw in which an African village goes into a drumming frenzy while the warriors dance around a fire, before setting out to attack another village. Got that?)
And suddenly, there they were, up in the main village square. First to greet Jan and me was Sophie (the Bread-Baker), who advised us of a change of plan. It seems that the people at the first house the group visited had not understood the instructions about asking questions of the kids, and so it was decided that we should just scrap our two questions. But otherwise, it was all systems go.
So down the street came the group, with our other friend Sophie (this time, Sophie the Jeweller), leading the way. By now, the drum beats were fast, furious and incredibly loud. Here was the scene as the group approached:
And then they were upon us — drummers in the front, followed by the kids in costume, followed by their parents. Here’s the crowd:
Now the group swings around our corner, heading for our house. Meanwhile, Jan has run inside and emerged onto our steps with the bag of candies, ready for the action.
And what action it was, as the costumed kids grabbed for their bags of candy. Jan could hardly keep up, and I tried to hand out bags of candy as well, while keeping my trusty camera going. In this next shot, a young vampire has his eyes on a bag of candy — or possibly Jan’s neck:
And then it was over; we had run out of candies, and the crowd simply had to move on. Here they are:
The reports would heard today were all positive. Everyone had a great time during the torchlight stroll, and the dinner at the salle des fêtes (community hall) was a big success.
Maybe, just maybe, this is a tradition that could replace the “normal” Halloween trick-or-treating. And maybe we could go a step further, next year.
Just as an example, I could see all the kids performing Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” in the village square next Halloween. I’m not sure of the exact lyrics in French, but I’ll bet it would sound great.