Halloween, one of the world’s oldest holidays, is still celebrated today in a number of countries around the globe. In Mexico and other Latin American countries, Día de los Muertos—the Day of the Dead—honors deceased loved ones and ancestors. In countries such as Ireland, Canada and the United States, adults and children alike revel in the popular Halloween holiday, which derived from ancient festivals and religious rituals. Traditions include costume parties, trick-or-treating, pranks and games.
Our diverse eco18 team share their Halloween memories growing up in different parts of the world.
Growing up in Venezuela, Halloween was not a celebrated tradition, however, at a very young age I was intrigued with dressing up, so I decided though to wear costumes all the time. That was until I got the fright of my life. I was around nine or ten years old and was at home, jumping up and down the stairs, wearing my latest costume that came with long brown braids.
I was in the upper floor of our home, when I had to go to the bathroom and I realized that the bathroom was empty… I had it all to myself…something that rarely happened. I was always battling with my siblings because I spent hours playing in the bathtub. Once, I even turned the bathroom into my study room; I just loved that bathroom. When I was about to turn off the lights, something grabbed my braids, lifted them up like they were suspended in the air and placed them back on my head. I ran out of the bathroom as fast as I could, screamed as if I had seen a ghost and only stopped when my sister caught me. She asked what happened but I couldn’t speak. She even slapped me few times – something she could not usually get away with – and I still couldn’t calm down.
This was the day I decided not to wear costumes anymore.
In England in the 50’s when I was growing up Halloween was not the big deal it is today. We did not trick or treat or dress up, but we did tell ghost stories, which scared the living daylights out of me. To this day, I can’t watch “Halloween” movies. I do believe ghost or “spirits” do exist and have had several unsettling experiences. One night when I was around 12 years old I would undress for bed and place my clothes on the chair by my bed. The next morning they had been moved to the floor. This happened night after night for about a week. My parents did not believe me, telling me I probably woke up in the night and moved them myself! In that house, things would go missing all the time and turn up in the most unexpected places!
Having always grown up around cats I still get spooked when they hiss at nothing and their fur stands on end. My mother always told me not to worry they are just letting you know there’s a ghost in the corner…thanks mum!
When I was little, I remember excitedly anticipating my elementary school’s Halloween costume parade. Every year, my friends and I would dress up in a costume we’d been planning for months – my favorite was when I went as Olympic gymnast Carly Patterson – and we would have so much fun walking through the town with our classmates and betting on who would receive best costume that year! After, we’d all go to someone’s house and have a pizza party and then would all meet up to go treat or treating throughout the neighborhood – the best was trading candies at the end and seeing how much candy everyone got!
It’s hard for me to pinpoint a specific favorite Halloween memory. When I think back to Halloween as a kiddo I get a rush of random memories that one could bottle as the latest fall candle scent. First you would smell crushed fall leaves, hay bales and hot apple cider from the pumpkin patch where we would pick out our pumpkins and get lost in the corn maze as a family. Next, you would pick up hints of burnt marshmallows from roasting them over the fire and trying to stay warm at outdoor neighborhood parties. Perhaps after that you would get the tiniest hint craft supplies because my mom always made all of our costumes herself, usually slaving over a sewing machine to make our Cheerleader or Pirate dreams come true. Lastly, there would be notes of chocolate from the time my parents let my then three-year-old little brother eat as much candy as he could until he got sick, but after hours of double fisting candy, he still hadn’t slowed down so they finally had to take it away- I will never forget those sad chocolate-covered cheeks.
Halloween has always been one of my favorite holidays but surprisingly the best part was not trick or treating. For me, the excitement began the day my parents took me to the Halloween store. I loved running through the isles thinking of all the possible costumes I could put together. My friends and I would compare our costumes and finally when the night came we all picked a house to get ready at. We would trade accessories and all have dinner together. The best part of trick or treating was seeing the decorations. Since Halloween was always warm in Miami we were able to run around for hours without getting cold. We would hop from neighborhood to neighborhood in search of the most extravagant decorations. After trick or treating we finally were able start my favorite part. We would sit on the floor through the night eating and trading candy. Even though we consumed enough sugar for a lifetime – it never got old!