Friday, November 1, 2013

Halloween - Belgian Style

     I am not a big fan of Halloween.  I am not sure why but it just isn't my favorite holiday.  Dear Husband loves it and almost every year since we have been married, we have to have our own pumpkin carving contest.  One year, he even had the trick-or-treaters vote.  I have to admit that part is fun.  I am just not into all of the costumes and scariness.
Pumpkins from last year

     When we lived in the States, Dear Daughter was able to go around the neighborhood with the kids that lived nearby.  That was certainly better than just me taking her around the houses.  But soon, all of the children moved away and Dear Husband was adamant that she still have Halloween with friends.  As a result, as Halloween approached each year, I had to find a friend and invite ourselves over to walk in their neighborhood.  It was a lot of fun but required some amount of driving.

     Then, we move to Germany.  We continued with our pumpkin carving last year but most of the children in our neighborhood, being Americans, headed over to the Air Base to wander the neighborhoods there.  We had a few children but it was a bit of a letdown for Dear Daughter.

     Now we are in Belgium and…I really totally forgot about the holiday.  Dear Daughter did manage to meet some friends and go to a Haunted House, which resulted in her sleeping in her parents bed.  But there was no pumpkin carving and no talk of trick or treating.  It was as if the holiday did not exist.

     The one thing that I love about being in another country is seeing how the host country celebrates a holiday.  Evidently, Halloween is celebrated in Belgium but it is very different - or at least, it is very different in our town.  First, I received a flyer in the mail that indicated there was going to be a Halloween Fest in the parking lot of our local small grocery store.  The Fest would begin at 6pm.  The children would arrive in costume.  From the grocery story, they would walk (promenade) to our neighborhood and would visit houses in hopes of receiving treats.  If you did not want to pass out treats, you could either leave them at your door or place a sign (which was included) that indicated that the group needed to move on.

     So, last night we waited with anticipation.  In the States, I always bought too much candy and we never had many children stop by.   This year, I purchased four bags and figured that I would have a lot left over for us to enjoy.  Around 6:45, we saw flashlights bouncing down our dark street.  Soon, we heard the voices of children.  We opened the front door and were swarmed by costumed kids of all ages.  There was even a photographer!  There were even adults looking for candy.  For the next 10 minutes, we frantically passed out candy.  The lucky ones were the first ones, when I gave them four to five pieces.  Then we panicked as we saw more and more children coming down the street.  I had to rationed the goodies - only giving one piece to each reveler (although a little toddler refused to take her hand out of the candy bowl until she had the exact pieces that she wanted).  They were all very polite…"Bonne Halloween, Merci," they called out as they left.  As quickly as it started, it ended.  No stragglers, no children coming at 10pm and constantly ringing the doorbell.  It was all very civilized once you got through the mob at your front door.

   Here is how it worked.  The children, with parental escorts, strolled through our neighborhood stopping at the houses that wanted to participate.  When they finished, they went back to the grocery store parking lot where two small tents were set up.  Each child received a cup of pumpkin soup and a cup of hot chocolate and the adults could have a vin chaud (hot mulled wine) to go with their soup.  Music played and young dancing groups performed to songs such as "Thriller" or "Ghostbusters".  At precisely 9:00 pm, there was a short fireworks display.   Very different and very cool!

     The days are shorter now as we set our clocks back last week.  The wind has picked up and there is that certain chill that tells us that winter is on the way.  We are on a one week fall break from school and today seemed like a good day to make a bit batch of soup, spend the day in PJs and watch television or read.

     Tonight, we will put a log in the fireplace, savor delicious foie gras that I picked up last weekend in Paris and hopefully indulge in a wonderful lasagne.  In addition to the soup, I have been making the sauce for the lasagne all day.  Then the world crowds back in as Dear Husband goes to the States tomorrow and Dear Daughter and I head to England for a swim meet.


1 comment:

  1. All your plans sound good again; Safe trip for everyone and look forward to seeing you in November.
    I love pumpkinsoup.