Halloween or Halloween Traditions. “What is it?” This is a question I had 29 years ago, when I first experienced this nightly celebration in the States. Of all the answers I received, the one I could identify with the most was the comparison to the peak of the German carnival season called Fasching (Mardi Gras). But that’s where the similarities ended.
Halloween is celebrated on October 31. Fasching starts on the 11th day of November at exactly 11 minutes after 11am and ends at the stroke of midnight on Shroud Tuesday—often called Fat Tuesday, the day before Ash Wednesday in February.
During Halloween, kids go from house to house and say, “trick or treat.” During Fasching, the children go around the neighborhood and sing to get their goodies.
Carving pumpkins is one of the Halloween traditions. Fodder beets? That’s a Fasching tradition!
Once I understood all the differences, I was totally onboard. Especially when I realized that the evening of October 31st was also All Saints Eve, the same religious holiday in Germany that honors the souls of the departed.
Great. Got it. Time to make the costumes for the kids. I used felt by the yard and soaked some old white bed sheets in dye to have them in the colors my children liked. I got the old pattern out, which I still had from Germany. I started to cut and sew the costumes to turn my children into “trick or treaters“.
In our first year in the U.S., my three children went trick or treating together (My fourth child was born three years later). A year later, they invited some of their new friends to trek the “Halloween Mile” with them. Two years after that, my home started filling with a few costumed guests. By the third Halloween, my kids had ALL their friends over at the house. They started dressing up and adding makeup right after school. Parents of those little devils would join later in the evening.
While the dads took their little ones around the neighborhood, the moms stayed behind and helped me disperse candy at the door. We called our group “H-TOT,” which stood for Halloween Trick or Treaters. We loved seeing all the costumes and we loved to eat. This called for my famous Split Pea Soup, which became a yearly tradition, along with my All Saints Braid for dessert.
Throughout the evening, adults would enjoy their meal with a few “spirits” while the kids had juice. The teenagers were fully caffeinated and congregated in the basement for their annual LAN Party full of big computer equipment and gaming fun.
Those were all great memories, but the image that I treasure most is a packed family room with children of all ages (some 11 years apart) sorting through their goodies. There was so much candy spread across the floor that you couldn’t even see the carpet. They traded, negotiated, divided, and shared until everyone got exactly what they wanted. It was impressive, to say the least.
Looking back, we created fun and memorable Halloween traditions that lasted 14 years. And now, my grandchildren have a lot of sweet things to look forward to themselves. Starting with my Halloween Cupcakes.