My Halloween Howlers

Candy?  Check.  Pumpkin?  Check.  I’m all ready for Halloween.  As a new immigrant to Canada 30-odd years ago, determined to “become Canadian,” I embraced this new and exotic celebration but didn’t always get it quite right.
Soon after arriving I was invited to attend a Halloween party.  What fun!  I looked in my closet to see what I could use as the basis for a costume and my eyes immediately fell on my traditional English duffel coat.  Perfect.  I would be Paddington Bear.  But what I’d overlooked was that this classic British children’s story was almost unknown this side of the pond.  I spent most of the evening explaining who I was to everyone I met.

You really would’ve thought I’d learn from this experience.  But no, a few years later I did it again, this time dressing up as Noddy.  “Are you an elf?” the children who came to the door asked.  I was crushed.  What kind of deprived upbringing had these poor Canadian children had?

When we moved to Azerbaijan, I was determined to share this important part of North American culture with the local students who visited me once a week to practice their conversational English.  All went well as I described the dressing up, candy and pumpkins.  My mistake was to try and explain some of the ancient beliefs behind the celebration.  As I started to talk about spirits rising and walking the earth I could see them eyeing each other nervously and shifting in their seats.  What kind of voodoo was this crazy Kanadka promoting?

Despite my best efforts it seems I really haven’t MASTERED Halloween.  How well have you adapted to celebrations in your new country?

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