Today is Halloween. We don't really need a reason to celebrate. Any day is as good as another in my book. In addition to every possible holiday, we celebrate arriving, leaving, hanging around...whatever. If we're in the mood to celebrate, we do. That said, the USA probably has the least amount of federal holidays, e.g. days off from work with pay, than any country we've visited. You wonder how some countries get anything done; they celebrate all the time. We celebrate lots in the US; we just don't get time off from work to do it. Halloween is a perfect example. The US celebrates this holiday like no other country we know though its roots run deep in Celtic history. In some countries, they've never heard of this holiday. In South America, they do celebrate Day of the Dead, but it's usually a picnic in a cemetery visiting their long-lost loved ones versus dressing in costume and begging at a neighbor's door for treats. My sister and her earth-centered group celebrate Samhain (sow-en), from the Gaelic “summer's end”, a time of harvest, reflection and preparation for the long winter ahead.
Australia is just getting into the whole Halloween thing. Grocery stores and the local K-Mart made a halfhearted attempt at ghoulish displays. The local Woolworths supermarket (aka Wooly's and nothing to do with the old 5&10¢ stores in the US) is even selling jack-o-lantern pumpkins for AU$2.79/kg. That's about US$1.35/lb at today's exchange rate and would run you quite a bit for the 10 pound pumpkins they had on display. Needless to say, we're passing on pumpkins this year.
I think part of the problem in Australia is this downunder thing. I mean we're in the southern hemisphere and it's springtime, not harvest time. It's a time of renewal here. Trees are all in bud and flowers are blooming. The Celts didn't know about australis incognita. They just knew winter was coming for them. Halloween here is a spring holiday and it loses a bit in the translation. It's all upside down.
I did bring back Hallowe'en napkins from the States. They make good packing material, so they made the final cut. I used them when guests came over for dinner the other night and they chuckled. If only they could have seen how we decorated our house in past years with corn stalks and pumpkins and those tiny orange fairy lights and witches, goblins and cobwebs. We hosted big costume parties. David even added a microphone and speaker to a jack-o-lantern one year so he could scare trick-or-treaters before they even knocked on our door.
While we were in Tonga, several American and Canadian kids went boat to boat in dinghies, all dressed up in makeshift costumes, knocking on hulls, begging for treats. They made out like bandits because everyone was so taken with the idea of celebrating this North American holiday in the middle of a South Pacific anchorage. A holiday and a part of home celebrated that would have otherwise gone unnoticed.
I made chocolate cupcakes and frosted them with orange icing and brought some across the dock to our neighbor's little boy along with my stories of celebrating Hallowe'en in America. I wore my Hallowe'en shirt and definitely felt in a celebratory mood. For the record, yes, I do have a Hallowe'en shirt. I don't have many clothes aboard, but hey, let's be realistic. A girl's gotta have some luxuries and celebrating every possible holiday while wearing the appropriate attire is one of them.
A little trivia for you: cucurbitophobia ... fear of pumpkins