Actually - you know what? It doesn't matter. Halloween is really just dress up day - and it's FUN!
The build up to Halloween here seems to take about a month, and intensifies in the week leading up to Halloween. Jill and Emma arrived from Sussex a week ago, and a few hours later we bundled them up into heavy duty coats, and set off into the night for the Williston Haunted Forest. This is a famous (in Vermont) annual event. It must take months of preparation and planning.
|Volunteers working on the jack o' lanterns|
|Everyone wanted to join in the pumpkin rolling competitions!|
So, today was Halloween. School closed at lunch time and our girls headed off with their costumes, wigs, make-up in bags to dress up with their friends and attend various parties. It was pretty quiet down by the lake, since there are no other kids down here. But when we went to pick up Lizzy, she'd had a glorious time, culminating in a ride through the neighbourhood on a hay wagon pulled by a tractor, and then fireworks on the lawn. I stood out in the night chill with the other mothers, while they laughed about seeing Halloween through Lizzy's eyes, and volunteered to adopt either of my daughters for a term next year. Emily came home a couple of hours later, almost asleep, and deeply happy.
It's all so over the top, so utterly crazy, such delightful fun. I love how everyone seems to embrace it, and the wholeheartedness of people's engagement, their lack of - what is it? - inhibition, self-consciousness around it. I've listened in on professors discussing their costumes ("No, no, I went as a disco queen for the last two years") and watched middle-aged male shop assistants straighten up their Roman helmet in the mirror, without seeming to feel that their masculinity was under threat. I love that it was Pumpkin Sunday at Trinity church last week - and parishioners brought their hand carved jack o' lanterns which were lit up and placed all around the sanctuary.
I keep coming back to this: why don't we do more of this in New Zealand? Why don't we have more community fun? Can you think of a single festival or celebration that everyone engages with? The only one I can think of is Anzac day - which is important in all sorts of ways, but possibly doesn't come under the heading of fun. Please can we have Dress up Day in New Zealand!?