I would like now to tell all of you, friends, family and fans, about all of my exciting plans for this fine Halloween. O.K., here goes...(yawn).... Wow, wasn't that exciting?
Now, it's not that I don't want to celebrate the spookiest holiday in the calendar, I mean I like it and all, but, well, I live in Europe. Don't misunderstand me, there are some movements towards Halloween here in Denmark. The other day, I saw not one but two carved pumpkins outside of a bar, and some few places have put up orange and black streamers. But it's frankly a marketing scheme and nobody takes it seriously.
And why should it be taken seriously when Danes and especially their kids have Fastelavn, which is essentially Danish Carneval. On that day in February, children dress up in costume, play games, and get lots of candy and special cakes. They even go from door to door collecting candy. So, there isn't much of a call for an imported holiday doing basically the same thing just at a different time of year.
However, I tried to get into my own personal Halloween spirit anyway by wishing both of my classes today a Happy Halloween, and discussing very briefly (like for two minutes) the implications of the holiday. Which reminds me of my mother (Hi Mom!) The connection? Well, the first comment out of the mouth of the first student in one of my groups was 'Well, it's just children begging really, isn't it?' And I had to smile and say, 'You sound just like my mother!' That led into a small discussion (like for two more minutes) of my two favorite Halloween terms, begging and bribery. And my mother featured in there somewhere. Let me explain.
My mother does in fact see Halloween as 'children begging'. And I have to admit that I can see her point, though I might modify it a bit...let's make it 'children wearing really adorable and/or interesting and/or downright strange costumes and begging'. In the last several years before retiring, my mother (a teacher) would purposely take a day off each and every October 31st, on principle - she would tell her class that she would be dressing up as, let's call her Mrs. X, and then on Halloween, the teacher would be...Mrs. X. Pretty nifty, huh?
Now, at this point I can see some of you fretting, and getting upset, envisioning my brother and I locked in the basement to keep us from sneaking out and trick-or-treating on the sly. No, actually we were allowed, nay even encouraged, to dress up and do a spot of trick-or-treating. Some years, we carved pumpkins. In the early years, my mother even waited at the door and gave out treats to the other kids (boxes of raisins, of all things...but let's save that story for another time...).
And, then, inspiration struck. Not for us kids, for my Mom. Why not escape the drudgery, the pain of the doorbell, the shrill cries of 'Trick or treat!", forever. The inspiration? Bribe us with the one thing guaranteed better than candy. Books. Yes, instead of begging for candy, we would go to dinner, and then make a pilgrimage to Kepler's (in their old location, which was far cooler) where we could each chose a book. Keep in mind that 'a book' to my Mom was always really two books. It normally went something like this: 'Moooom, I can't decide. Do I want thiiiis book (raise right hand containing nice book)...or do I want thiiiis book (raise left hand containing equally nice book)?' Worked every time. Plus, we still trick-or-treated at our immediate next-door neighbors' houses, one of whom was especially generous with the candy. So, really, could we have gotten it any better than that?
Halloween was o.k., before, but a holiday celebrated by going to a bookstore and getting a book (or two) is the coolest holiday ever. In fact, this could be just the thing to get the Danish Halloween tradition going. A holiday where you celebrate by getting your kids books. Or getting yourself books. I think it could work!
But in the meantime, I'm beginning to think I should be doing something beyond just this blog to mark the occasion. But what? The bookstores are closed. I don't have a costume. So, I guess I'm off to find something in the house to carve. Any suggestions? An onion maybe? A carrot? No, wait...I'll be back!
The moral of this drawn-out tale? Always take your carved bell pepper pictures before dark, and Happy Halloween!