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Forks, Portland, Lyon - France, Paris - France, Portland and ending up in Bellingham.... the adventures of my life!

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Monday, November 1, 2010

Culture Shock: Where'd Halloween GO!?

Yesterday was Halloween... my first in France and the first time I didn't have a fun costume to celebrate.  It was strange.

France is a culture rich in diverse events- she has lots of celebrations for different kinds of saints.  She is full of openness for all different religions and many different shops that celebrate that.  Halal butcheries line the streets with the typical French 'charcuteries' packed with pork-specialized products... but France does not take Halloween very seriously.

This was proven as I piled into the car with my French family to go to the wine expo (fourre des vins, a big event in Lyon that has free wine tasting and cheap rates from local wine producers).  As we drove down the street in the evening I looked out the window, searching for the familiar costumed children parading down the street with their candy buckets.  Not one child was outside.

I looked for the shops with their doors open and the synthetic spider webs clinging to the windows.  Not one shop was decorated.

It was such a weird phenomenon.

When I explained to my family that my mom dressed up as a pregnant zebra before I was born, they laughed, but asked why she wasn't dressed as a ghost or a mummy?  Apparently in France if you do dress up, it's only the typical costumes (witches, vampires, devils and ghosts) and none of the little princesses or fairies, no giant toilet bowls.

I did a little research...

Halloween in France only goes back about 10 years.  The people knew about the holiday but never celebrated it in our way... children just started 'trick or treating' around the city... and it still hasn't caught on 100%.  Bri has never even been trick or treating as he was too old when the tradition was introduced!!

The stores don't have the sacks of mini candies, so I couldn't gain my obligatory 2 lbs of Halloween candy (because I always bought too much to hand out).  No pumpkins for my apartment.  No decorations, as I usually did at my parents every year.  No cute children knocking on my door begging for candy.

So, I spent my Halloween at the expo, drinking my worries away with free samples of some of the best wine in France.  I felt bitter as I saw babies and families around buying a 6 month supply of wine and not one of them disguised.  I swigged a taste of a cognac and decided that I would be French for this time... no Halloween costumes and I would accept it.

Instead I gorged myself on Raclette with Bri and then we watched the original 'Halloween.'.  Sometimes you have to accept a culture to live in it.


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