Halloween in London

Halloween here surprised me. I had talked to a lot of people around here and got the distinct impression that it wasn’t as big as in America, and that trick-or-treating wasn’t as popular. When I studied abroad in Bath, we had all of one group of kids come to the door on Halloween. (Though now I have been told you have to have a “pumpkin lantern” outside for people to know you are participating in handing out candy.) Halloween decorations didn’t really appear on houses and shops until about a week ago. The bags of individually wrapped candy are much smaller than the ginormous bags I usually buy at Target. And E’s nursery school wasn’t doing anything Halloween-related at all yesterday, though one child did bring in little boxes of candy for each member of the class, which E told me in a British accent are “Smahties.”

Last night in our neighbourhood proved my estimation of Halloween in London wrong. There were swarms of kids out around our area. We ran out of candy to hand out by 5:52 p.m.!

It is a little different here, however. It’s much more focused on the traditionally scary, spooky side of Halloween. People’s costumes tend to be something traditionally Halloween and scary—witches, vampires, ghosts, zombies, devils, lots of fake blood. Even the little kids! We saw lots of girls dressed as witches and boys dressed as vampires and the like. I think in America we’ve de-spookified Halloween somewhat and little kids are usually superheroes, princesses, animals, well-known characters from books/TV/movies, etc.; and adults like to go for pop culture references and themed couples’ costumes—the more creative and clever the better.

E wanted to be Dory the blue fish. She was, in fact, the only Dory we saw, but her friend from nursery school heard that’s what she was going to be and decided to be Nemo, so she wasn’t the only fish in the sea (sorry). They were also joined by a pink Batgirl to complete their trick-or-treating trio.

The poor dog’s least favourite day of the year. She was a big hit with kids and adults alike, though.

I don’t think I have ever seen E so amped up and over-the-top excited as she was prior to trick-or-treating last night. We were trying to get the girls to eat some dinner before heading out, but eventually we had to give up on that because kids had started coming to the door to trick-or-treat, and E and her friends would jump up every time to see who was at the door and help hand out the candy (“sweets” or “sweeties” here). They loved trick-or-treating and went way longer than I expected them to! They weren’t fazed by the scary decorations (e.g., severed hands in mail slots) at a lot of the houses, either. I think they were completely delighted with this one door that had a fake doorbell that opened up a glowing, talking eyeball when they pushed it. They probably could have kept pushing that over and over.

Then there was a house with a smoke machine out front and a man in a dark cape telling them they had to do a trick to get their treats, which was reaching into a cauldron of cooked spaghetti to extract the candy. OK, that’s fun for older kids maybe, but for 3-year-olds? They were just confused. They did actually do it, but then they were like, “Mommy I don’t want spaghetti on my candy!” and we had to pick it off. Thanks, dude. Then he abruptly left and headed down the street so we parents were left standing there wondering, “Does he even live here?” So odd.

Our “pumpkin lanterns” in the front garden–the cue to trick-or-treaters that you are participating and have candy.

Of course, after we got home, E with way more candy than I expected her to collect, there was the post-excitement meltdown before bedtime, and the reality of no, you don’t get to eat all that candy now. And this morning the explaining you can’t have candy before breakfast. Or after breakfast. Fortunately, she ended up being content this morning to go through her candy piece by piece and then play candy shop, which I’m sure we’ll be doing again after school. At what age do they start to notice that their supply tends to dwindle faster than they have been eating it? Particularly the chocolate pieces? Because someone gave her a nearly full-size double Twix bar and that is so mine.




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