As a child growing up in the United States, Halloween was always one of the most exciting times of the year. It meant going around, usually on a school night, dressed up like your favorite hero and getting free candy. A few years later, it was an excuse to wreak havoc on the neighborhood with shaving cream, eggs, and chasing your friends down the street in blind joy. By the time we got to college, it was just another reason to go to raging parties, but with the added advantage of girls dressing scantily clad and guys trying to be as funny and original as possible. The “holiday” really morphs with age.
But even as American culture has influenced other parts of the world, including my adopted homes in Ecuador and Argentina, I haven’t been celebrating Halloween for the last two years. Not necessarily by choice, but simply by a lack of options. In Ecuador, though far less common, there were parties or special functions at bars. I was even invited to one of my student’s Halloween parties and made a judge of the costume contest. It was fun, but it was for the students and not for me.
In Argentina I’ve seen the same merchandise sold in the States, with the plastic jack-o-lantern filled with candy and so on, but to a much lesser extent. I’m sure there are packs of American students in the city who have organized their own Halloween parties out of tradition, but I haven’t sought them out and no invitations have found me. But going through Facebook, I can see how all of my friends back home are planning their parties and ridiculous costumes in an attempt to outdo last year’s and the year before’s idea. It makes me long for one of those kinds of parties again–not at a bar or club trying to meet new people, but just standing around with familiar friends, cracking old jokes and doing the same old. That scene gets so boring after a while, but once removed from it for a time, the nostalgic value is much higher than the fun that night brought ever was.
There’s definitely a lack of costume party adventure going on in my life, but I can think that next year in Washington D.C. I’ll have another chance. Another thing to look forward to is that when the kids wake up on November 1st they’ll be cold and one day closer to winter, whereas in the Southern Hemisphere, we’re headed towards warmer weather every day. That keeps me pretty happy. The next holiday to tackle will be Thanksgiving, which always sucks when you’re away from home.