Exporting American Culture: Halloween

We are doing our part in exporting American culture so that the rest of the world can come to love us. First mission: Halloween.

I had no idea that Halloween was only really celebrated in the US – the Australians, Brits, and even the Canadians didn’t even know what day it was. Matt’s students used their new online research skills to write about Halloween (one student’s paper: “If they don’t get candy, they do vandalism. I think this is bad.”) For local foreign teachers and their Chinese friends, we hosted a Halloween party – and got schooled in the costume department.

Here are the decorations:

From Halloween

Emergency Costumes:

From Halloween

Costumes in China are challenging, since they don’t celebrate Halloween. Matt was a gladiator. His costume was tin foil armor and sheild, with a toy sword from Walmart, and shower shoes – er, gladiator sandals. And a blanket for a cape. And a helmet made by wrapping his Red Sox cap in foil. Laura started the night as Garfield, with an orange scarf for a tail, but found a great peacock skirt in the storage area, and was a peacock/gypsy for the rest of the night.

From Halloween

Friends from work: Leaf and Nathan, an outlaw and cowboy, Nathan’s wife Elizabeth, aka Jem, and Lilly, Leaf’s better half, in a stunning devil’s wig.

From Halloween

Tom and James (with a bleeding face!)

From Halloween

Tin foil brothers: Gladiator Matt and Robot #1 (Wade)

From Halloween

Elsa (from the French contingent) James, and two tailor-made kittens, Becky (from UK) and Rony

From Halloween

More pictures at:

Halloween
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4 thoughts on “Exporting American Culture: Halloween

  1. The only country out of that list who don’t celebrate Halloween that surprises me is Canada (are your colleagues French or English Canadians?) For all that is made of the Celtic roots of Halloween, these legends and practices have not inspired a Halloween-like holiday anywhere outside of America. And if Halloween does spread, it will probably be rooted in the American holiday, rather than independently arising out of the same ancient mythos.

  2. it’s a pagan tradition that ultimately became an American tradition. I know it’s actively celebrated in countries like Ireland but I am surprised that your friends from England, Australia and Canada didn’t know what day it actually was held. Well, in reality, I ask that question unknowingly, “when is Halloween?” and you get that same ol’ look on people’s faces and they say, “the last day of October stupid”. And I bet, if you surveyed all Americans, you’d be lucky to get 30% to say Oct. 31st. I mean, what is Halloween anyway? We grew up going around “trick or treating” but that ultimately derived from a pagan tradition that resembles nothing of what we do nowadays. Much like Valentine’s Day, the root of the tradition has been rooted out and has become Americanized where people buy lots of things for this one day and most adults have an excuse to dress up in costumes and get drunk. Now, going around caroling for Halloween with your best buddies is a different story… hehehe. Good times. Yeah, what is up with your costumes? It looks like you guys didn’t even try! LOL

  3. Dave, where did you hear that Halloween is celebrated in Ireland? I’ve always thought that it wasn’t — at least not as we know it in America. As for Canada, we have a friend out here from Montreal (which is the only truly bilingual major city in Canada), and she said that Halloween is universally celebrated by both the Anglo and Franco communities.

    Incidentally, this same friend went to San Diego for Halloween this year and had an interesting story to tell about Halloween customs there. While trick-or-treating with her daughter, she observed that all the adults brought booze with them. One guy even walked around with a wagon full of beer, and at least one house offered two kinds of treats: candy for the kids, and shots for the adults!

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