Posted: October 28, 2009 in All and Sundry
Tags: , ,

when i was a kid studying in an elementary school established by american missionaries, halloween was a big deal even though my country doesn’t celebrate it because at school, in art class, our art teacher would asked us to look for large pumpkins that we could carve into jack-o-lanterns. picking big pumpkins was always difficult because pumpkins were rarely grown in the city and so my sister and i would rely on a small squash to make a really small jack-o-lantern. and if we really fail to find a squash, the teacher would come up with an ingenious plan of gathering materials for us to shape a jack-o-lantern out of paper mache, which would not be able to light with a candle but instead with a small flashlight.

but there was always something missing about our halloween. there was a huge cultural divide that we could never grasp, and so halloween for us was a concept we see in movies and read in books. for my part, i never really understood the practice. it contradicted everything that i was taught to do. november 1 is the day of the dead in my country, and so usually, we were told to go to the cemeteries and visit our dead loved ones and commemorate their lives. it wasn’t about dressing up in halloween costumes and trick or treating.

but we did go trick or treating, as how we imagined it, in our school where our teachers would explain to us the purpose of the whole thing. we liked candies and receiving presents anyway.

so it was such a wonderful experience for me to go home tonight to find myself staring at a jack-o-lantern right near the apartment’s front door. what a way to remind me that i am in place where halloween is really a big deal, a place of my childhood imaginings, a place where people really buy costumes to prepare for a halloween parade, where visiting cemeteries to hold parties and stage drunken pursuits is out of the question.

i am so looking forward to this halloween. i have a jack-o-lantern to prove it. :-)

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