When my wife Jan and I lived in Toronto, we eventually became pretty strong fans of, and participants in, Halloween — as a holiday and party-time for people of all ages.
Of course we had lots of candy for the kids who were trick-or-treating. But we went well beyond, with decorations for the house and (sometimes) costumes for us.
When we moved permanently to France, seven years ago, we noticed that there were several differences in the local reaction. Here’s a bit of what I wrote in a blog posting (“Trick or treat, Daglan-style”) on November 1, 2010 concerning our first Halloween here:
A few things struck us. First, that there doesn’t seem to be any French version of “Trick or treat!” The kids just showed up, said “Bon soir” (or nothing at all), and held out their bags. Second, they all looked pretty great; the costumes seemed surprisingly good, without much attempt to be scary or horrific. Third, they all seemed genuinely thrilled that we actually opened the door, and actually had very nice treats for them (large, individually wrapped chocolates). And finally, they were wonderfully polite. As my wife and I would say “Bonne soirée” to them, they would answer back politely, “Et bonne soiréee à vous, aussi.” Quite adorable, really.
As time went on, we tried to keep our traditions alive — buying lots of candy for the kids, carving pumpkins, and so on. Some years we had several young visitors, some years we had very few. In 2013, for example, we had a visit from these two:
This year seemed to be a turning point, because (well before October 31) I told Jan that I had pretty much given up on Halloween, in the sense that I’d lost interest. So we didn’t waste any energy hunting for a pumpkin, or putting up any scary decorations. And frankly, I’m quite happy with the new approach.
Beyond the obvious — that is, fitting in with the traditions of our new home, where Halloween is a minor event — I have gone off the idea of “scary things.”
While popular culture lately seems consumed with werewolves and zombies and weird creatures, I find that I prefer enjoying the “nicer things” of life — good friends, good food, reading good books, the beautiful scenery around us, and so on.
But speaking of good friends: In our immediate neighbourhood, there is just one young family with children, who would be likely to venture out for Halloween, and we are quite friendly with parents and kids.
So yesterday Jan did buy a couple of bags of candy, and made up a nice package for each of the kids. Before dark, she took the candies over to the young mother, who was delighted with the gift.
Then, during the evening, Jan and I simply kept the house dark. If there were any trick-or-treaters out last night, we never heard them.