Wednesday, November 01, 2006

An American tradition, British-style

To be honest, I'm still not quite sure how Halloween works around here, even a day after the fact. Like many American traditions, the British have begun to adopt Halloween in recent years, but it hasn't quite caught on with the type of fervor we expect in the States. Some people trick or treat in London, others don't, and there doesn't seem to be much rhyme or reason to any of it. The deal seems to be this: if there is a glowing pumpkin outside a house, you're fairly likely to find someone handing out candy there.

Not exactly clear cut guidelines for someone still so confused by nearly everything around here that I require a guidebook, a map and implicit instructions for even the simplest outing. If I'm going to take my children out, in the dark no less, and encourage them to knock on strangers' doors, I want to be damn sure that they're expected there. Alas, it doesn't seem to work that way here. So it was with some trepidation that we set out trick or treating this year; two children bouncing off the walls with excitement and one adult desperately missing the familiar Halloween routine of our old neighborhood.

Thankfully, our new neighbors did not disappoint. Houses with glowing pumpkins were few and far between, and dozens and dozens of costumed children crowded the steps of each one. But the hunt became part of the game, and the distance between destinations actually helped to spread out the excitement and stem the tide of sugar a bit. In an hour's time, my kids got their Halloween fix and collected 10 pieces of candy apiece. They seemed more than content with their hauls and quickly figured out that one piece a night would last them a week and a half. Far more reasonable than the 2-pieces-a-day-until-well-into-December routine, I must admit, and since my kids are too young to even remember that kind of Halloween experience anyway, they were none the wiser about the discrepancy.

In the end, despite my fears to the contrary, Halloween in the UK was a success. That is, it was a success for everyone except me and Paul. It was lovely to see our kids so happy, of course, and a relief to be able to give them this little bit of familiar "American" culture here. But how on Earth are we supposed to raid such a small candy stash???


Blogger Denzylle said...

I was hoping you'd write about Hallowe'en and all the other 'holidays' you'll experience British style and tell us how they measure up (or don't).

I know Hallowe'en is very different here and, I have to admit, I prefer it less commercialised. Glad it didn't disappoint too much, for the children. As for you guys, you'll just have to surreptitiously add to the candy stash.

The next thing here is Bonfire or Guy Fawkes Night. Maybe there's a communal bonfire and fireworks display in your neighbourhood. That *is* good fun.

3:04 PM  
Blogger Dana said...

Your last line had me howling! I've got a couple mini chocolate bars in my lunch today, I'm not embarrassed to say.

Our neighbourhood is very multi-cultural and some houses (1/10) don't participate. We do the "look for pumkins" on the porch thing too. Sounds like the kids had a great time!

3:19 PM  
Blogger Steph said...

Too bad the candy probably wouldn't make the journey too well, or I would ship some over to you. My kids filled up their two pumpkins, and then P dumped M's out and took her to fill it up AGAIN! And, I'll have to email you to share part of the distinct Halloween experience we had in my mom's neighborhood...

7:19 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

How fun to hunt for pumpkins on the porch, though. And what a fun way to signify "TorT'ers welcome" - much more fun than a front porch light. I'll ship you some candy if you want. My kids got entirely too much and E was asking for bubble gum with breakfast. I did sneak a KitKat bar when she wasn't looking.

7:44 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

And hey, I clicked send before I finished typing...CUTE KIDS!!! I heard that H'ween is more "scary" in the UK than here. Did you find that to be true?

7:45 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Cute picture! Dave wants to know if Evan is one of the "Village People."

Aunt Margie


We had about 300 kids at our house.

3:53 AM  
Blogger Jennifer said...

Bob tipping his hat is so adorable. Oh, but not being able to raid the stash is so unfair. We're raiding here already. ;)

4:18 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Cute costumes!! Did you get them in England or did you bring them with you?

4:48 AM  
Blogger Bek said...

I am also a Rebecca and lived in the UK (London too....) but it was pre kids. I dream about going back some times.. It is a different world for sure, but it is fun. We also lived in New Jersey. Maybe you are the bizzaro me (I even have a girl and a boy....and a girl.....)

I will never forget my first Guy Fawks day (or Bonfire night). Baked potatoes w/ beans and coleslaw... now I am getting England homesick. I am so glad I found your blog. I can't wait to see your adventures...

P.S. I am not sure how I found you, it was from the comment of a comment.... you know how it goes...

7:07 AM  
Blogger Rosemary said...

I remember being in England on Halloween in my mid-20's. Children were home in the States and I was still determined to celebrate Halloween, a favorite holiday. I dressed up and went cruising the pubs in Cambridge (can one "cruise" a pub?) with an English friend. THERE WERE a handful of spooky souls out that night and it was great fun, even if we were by far a minority.

12:40 AM  

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