Multicultural Halloween celebrations shape memory


Art by Lorelei Dohm.

Bailey Stover

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Senior Rawan Ebada lived in Saudi Arabia as a child before moving to the U.S.

How did you celebrate Oct. 31 or not celebrate it?

“When I was a kid, I didn’t live in America. I used to live in Saudi Arabia, so that’s a cultural, like a Muslim culture country, so we didn’t really know what Halloween was. So around Oct. 31, depending on what time of the lunar year it was, it could be a time where people could do the pilgrimage, so we could be having a long holiday or something, like not go to school, but it could just be a normal month where everyone goes to school.”

When you and your family moved to the U.S., did you start celebrating Halloween at all?

“Yeah, we actually did. My little sister started buying costumes that were like Egyptian, you know, because I’m actually Egyptian, and she started buying Cleopatra costumes and getting her little buckets and going around the neighborhood, but I don’t really do that.”

Do you do anything as a family to celebrate?

“We don’t carve pumpkins, but we get some and put them outside just for the look and stuff, but we don’t carve them. I want to learn how to do it, though.”

What is the biggest difference between the lack of celebration where you were born and what happens in the U.S.? Why do you think there is this difference?

“Well, I feel like it just depends on the culture and the religion that’s the most common or what people are used to [doing]. So, like there, I guess some people would like dress up maybe, but it wouldn’t be a common thing where you’re just going to walk around and expect someone to be dressed up, but then here it’s more [common]. Or it’s going to be you walk in and you see someone dressed up and be like, ‘Oh, they look so cool,’ and ask your friends like, ‘Are you going to make your own costume?’ and things like that. So I think it’s just based on the culture and how everything is.”

What’s your favorite part of American Halloween?

“My favorite part is the pumpkins. I like carving — not carving them, I like getting them, like the different colors. I didn’t actually know that there are different colors of pumpkin. I got a green one the other day. It was really cool.” [/penci_text_block]

Senior Beatrice Rotondi is a foreign exchange student from Italy. 

What is Halloween like in Italy?

“It’s not like a real festivity, like we don’t have Halloween decoration and this type of stuff. It’s like a normal day. Children go with [their] parents to trick-or-[treat] and nothing. It’s not very special because it’s like a religion festivity the day after.”

Is religion a part of the reason why you don’t celebrate in Italy?

“Yeah. In Italy we are Catholic, I am not Catholic. The most of people are Catholic and see this festivity like a bad thing, like dead things, and don’t like them.”

How do you think celebrating this year or being around the celebrations this year in America will be different than usual?

“I think here [it’s] a very big festivity with decoration and this type of stuff, so I’m very excited to see how people live this things. I don’t know, maybe [it will be] more bigger, and I really don’t know how [I] expect it [to be].”

When you were a kid, how did you celebrate?

“Yeah, how you live in a very little town. We had like 2,000 inhabitants, so we know each other. And I went with my friends and my parents to go trick-or-[treating], but nothing special. Now I hang out with my friend like normal.”

How do you think you’ll celebrate this year?

“I don’t know. I think I have plans with my host family in our neighborhood, but I don’t know yet what I’m going to do.”

What do you think will be the biggest difference between celebrating in Italy and in America?

“I think this period where people live this festivity, in Italy nobody care of Halloween, while in America it’s so ‘wow.’ Like warmer. It’s full of Halloween decorations; we don’t have these.”

What are you most excited for about being able to celebrate in a different culture?

“I’m excited to see people and children who dress up for this festivity. We don’t dress up, children just go to trick-or-[treat], but we don’t dress up. I hope to dress up with my host brother.”[penci_text_block block_title_align=”style-title-left” custom_markup_1=””]

Senior Gabi Tella lived in Brazil until she and her family moved to the U.S. in June 2016. 

How did you celebrate Halloween when you lived in Brazil?

“Okay. So we don’t celebrate Día de los Muertos, that’s like Mexican stuff, but in Brazil I think Halloween was never like a big thing. So there I lived in a condominium. I lived in a big one, and then inside the big condominium there was a smaller one with like 20 houses, and then the outside there was kind of like a wall kind of like enclosing all the houses together. It’s different than here. But one year what they did — so it kind of started when I was like five, six-ish, they said we’re going to go trick-or-treating around the big condominium, so it was like a truck, and the kids would sit on the back, and we stopped from house to house, got candy and stuff. Then, then the people that wanted to participate, they were outside with candy, and they would give it to us. But it was never like a really big thing. We kind of did like during the day — so there we go to school in the morning, and we have the afternoon free to do whatever. So it was after school, like four or five-ish. Everyone would meet up at the front of the condominium, like at the entrance, and then everyone got in the truck, and we went around trick-or-treating. It was fun. And when I was older, I think I was 14, it was like the first Halloween party my friends did, it was like my grade, so all my friends were together. We dressed up. It was fun, but it was never like a really big thing. Now they kind of just do random parties. We don’t really go trick-or-treating, but I guess some kids do, but it’s not a really big thing. It kind of became bigger as people started seeing stuff from the U.S. and how big Halloween is here. But it’s not — so here it’s kind of like everyone goes trick-or-treating on Halloween at night, everyone dresses up. There’s just like little kids, but not all kids do it. It’s just different.”

Did you guys dress up in costumes at all?

“I went trick-or-treating twice my whole life when I lived in Brazil, so like 14 years I went twice, and that was both with the people that I lived with, like around. I dressed up I think once, but like a costume that we bought here because there it’s weird and no one — like, they don’t really have stores that sell a bunch of costumes and stuff. You kind of have to do it yourself if you want one. So we used to come on vacations here a lot, so we bought, my parents bought me one and bought my brother one, so we just dressed up as that. And then when I was older, I think I dressed up once that I went to a party with my friends.”

Why do you think there is the difference in cultural celebrations of Halloween?

“I’d say it’s like big here because [it’s] where everything started, and there we don’t really have anything. Like, October, so there it’s different ’cause in October it’s spring, it’s not fall, so I think that has something to do with [it]. And we don’t really — I guess it was never like a big thing there. Like people didn’t even know what Halloween was, I guess. Like, they knew what Halloween was, but like everyone’s like ‘Eh, it doesn’t really matter to us,’ like it’s U.S. thing. It’s not fall or anything, so I guess my opinion that would be something. And here, I think just kind of where everything started. And we don’t celebrate Día de los Muertos. Also, it’s like a Mexican culture celebration. And I don’t think Brazil we have anything like that, and I don’t know why, but we just don’t. I think the climate has a lot to do with it. Even like Christmas, it’s different ‘cause it’s summer when it’s Christmas there, so I think everything changes. I think the seasons have a lot to do with it.”

When you came to the U.S., were you surprised by how people celebrated?

“Yes. I thought, we thought it was so cool. So here we have a bunch of Brazilian friends that we’re always with. And so we were the last ones to move out of our friend group, and there’s one that they’ve been living here for one year more than we have, and then the other one’s six months more than we have. So our first year we met them, and we all go together [at] one of their houses, and it was fun. Everyone dressed up, even my parents did, and the kids came trick-or-treating, and then I went with — so the families, or the Brazilian families, they have little kids — so I went with them trick-or-treating ‘cause I’ve never been to an actual trick-or-treating where all the houses are all decorated and stuff. There it’s just like — I think we [decorated] our house once, but we didn’t really have anything. It was just — I don’t know. It was just weird. And here, like the houses, people went all out for it. And we thought that was super cool because we had nothing like that back in Brazil. So me and my parents and my brother we’re all like, ‘Oh my God. This is so cool.’ Like everyone, like the families were all out for it. It’s not like, it’s not only kids. Like the parents are out in front of their houses with the kids, waiting for kids to come. It was just completely different and fun.”

What was the most surprising part of seeing these different ways of celebrating?

“I would say the decorations, how people — like, it’s not like one little thing like a pumpkin. . . When it’s fall they decorate with leaves and whatever, and then when it’s Halloween they do all this scary stuff and lights and things that scare you. That was the most surprising thing because I think it’s just so different and unique to each house. They do their own little thing. Like in my neighborhood, there’s one house they’ve already went all out for [it]. They had ghosts, they have some like monster things, and I think that’s like the coolest and most different part. It’s just so unique.”

Do you feel like you had missed out on this sort of culture before moving, or did you not think about it?

“I had never thought about missing out because it’s just not something that we have in our culture, so I think that was like a plus of moving here, like we get to celebrate Halloween, but I never consider that I missed out on it because it was never big for our culture, and we never had anything like that. And whatever we had down there was enough for me. It was like we get candy, it’s fun. I wouldn’t say we missed out, but it’s definitely fun to be here, like have all this things going on. It’s not just houses that do that. Churches and trunk-or-treating and even here at Rock Bridge, it’s just like everyone is so involved with Halloween, and there [it’s] one or two house that have candy for kids. So I wouldn’t say missing out, but I would say it’s cool and a different opportunity in a way to add to the culture.”[/penci_text_block][penci_text_block block_title_align=”style-title-left” custom_markup_1=””]How do you celebrate Halloween? Let us know in the comments below.[/penci_text_block]