The pumpkins are carved, the candy has been bought, and otherwise normal, respectable adults are walking around in ghost and goblin inspired clothing. Yes, it's Halloween in the United States, and as they do at seemingly every holiday, Americans are going all out. The enthusiasm my fellow citizens exhibit when it comes to celebrating never ceases to amaze me. Houses are decked out in orange and black, parties are planned at homes, bars and restaurants, and some people have spent weeks creating the perfect costume. Not much of an October 31st fan myself, I do enjoy the feeling that's in the air on the scariest night of the year. After all, only the coldest of hearts could resist melting at the sight of little ones all dressed up for trick-or-treating.
Halloween tends to be a holiday that makes Americans abroad miss home the most. Probably because it's a big deal in the U.S., but is difficult to recreate elsewhere. Where else can you take a hay ride through a pumpkin patch, sip a pumpkin latte and carve a jack 'o lantern out of a pumpkin all in the same day? Where else can you find the sheer variety of costumes for kids and adults that are sold in stores all over this country? Where else can you turn your regular house into a haunted house with some decorations from your local drugstore? Where else can kids knock on the doors of their neighbors, yell "trick or treat!" and expect to receive candy for doing so? And lastly, where else can you eat that funny looking, love-it-or-hate-it, only-comes-out-at-Halloween treat known as candy corn?
I'm not big on wearing costumes, things that scare me, or even candy corn, but I still greatly missed Halloween the times I spent it abroad. There's just something in the atmosphere this time of year that even a Halloween scrooge can't ignore. It's fun to watch everyone get excited about the holiday; to share in that communal sense of celebration that overtakes American society on and around October 31st. Even more powerful is the feeling of nostalgia that Halloween stirs up. For me, this includes the joy of being a kid running around the neighborhood in a fun costume and staring at disbelief at the mother lode of candy I just brought home. Score! And what Minnesotan doesn't love reminiscing about the Halloween Blizzard of 1991? So, Americans abroad, I understand your pain. I hope you've found some way to celebrate Halloween in your own way this year. If all else fails, buy yourself some candy, wear something orange, and watch a scary movie. With a little work you can make it almost as good as the real thing.