Friday, 31 October 2008

Hallowe'en in Hades

Ottawa, unlike other Canadian cities in which I've lived, tends to treat most holidays like Christmas. There's a long run-up to Canada Day which, I suppose, is only natural in a city that is, and constantly refers to itself as, The Nation's Capital.

However, the first thing I noticed when we moved here in the autumn of 2000, was the long Christmas-like anticipation of Hallowe'en. Around the Thanksgiving long weekend, the pumpkins are parked on porches and front steps, while other spooky decorations begin adorning the neighbouring houses in early to mid-October. This year, the pumpkins were caught outside in a snowstorm, so we've been passing some odd juxtapositions this week:

Mind you, this is not all that odd; I doubt there are all that many Canadian kids who have not experienced at one time or the other the fantasy-dampening sensation of wearing a winter coat and boots (even, gawd help us, ski-pants) under a costume when going trick-or-treating. (We sang out "Hal-lah-ween-ah-puls!" on the frozen prairie of my youth; do they do that anymore? "Trick or Treat!" is so lame...) However, today is sunny and reasonably temperate for the time of year. The snow has plummeted from the flash-frozen golden leaves and (mostly) retreated from the grass. There's a promise of cloud cover for the evening which should hold in what warmth there is like a blanket.

The Resident Fan Boy carved the jack o' lanterns last night, according to his daughters' design. Here's elder daughter's:
... and here's younger daughter's.

Madness has reigned at younger daughter's school all week. There's talk of teachers in Toronto changing October 31st at school to "Black and Orange Day", presumably to fade the religious (or not-so-religious) implications of Hallowe'en. However, this is unlikely to ease the stress at younger daughter's school where Hallowe'en merely precedes the massive Book Fair held in early November, and the ambitious and annual Remembrance Day play, complete with uniforms and dance numbers. The special ed teacher is fully tentacled this morning, but has lost her voice. I've packed up younger daughter's vampiress costume (complete with good set of fangs; second-class fangs on reserve at home), because her teacher has decreed that costumes may not be donned until after lunch. I hand over Old Dutch potato chips and our traditional Hoot Owl cookies before stashing the costume in younger daughter's locker and checking that she knows where her fangs are. (She'd probably like to bite me by that point.) I'm inches from a clean getaway when I realize that her lunch hadn't made it into her packsack (gawd, I love Hallowe'en). Still, the extra two-kilometre walk is probably a good idea, given that I'm on my way to the grocery store to pick up the chocolate bags for shelling out tonight. (I don't dare have that stuff in my house before the day...)

The cashier is dressed rather attractively in a sea-foam two-piece top with a beaded necklace. It takes me several minutes to realize that this is her costume; to me, she looks ready for a nice night out. "What are you?" I ask. "Retro," she shrugs.

We get a lot of teen trick-or-treaters like this. When challenged on not wearing a costume, they declare: "This is my costume; I don't usually look like this!" I am prepared for this kind of malarkey, because to my mind, dressing in a different style from your normal day-to-day wear is not true trick-or-treating; it's merely a fashion statement. I smile pleasantly and remark: "There's a traditional term for treat-or-treating without a costume, you know."
"What's that?"
"Begging!!"
I then hand over Witches Fingers instead of chocolate bars to these interlopers. (They look gross, but are actually quite delicious and quite easy to make.) I haven't been soaped or T.P.-ed yet, but it's only a matter of time. May you make it through to All Saints' Day in one piece. Happy Hallowe'en indeed...

7 comments:

Lisa Rullsenberg said...

Great pics but man those fingers look gross!

We've been giving out oranges here - so far no nasty tricks on us in revenge...

Jane Henry said...

Ah Halloween. When I was growing up we had Halloween parties complete with buns on strings and bobbing for apples (English so English) but no Trick or Treating (except for the time I trick or treated Martin Shaw when he was in the Professionals (he lived next door to my friend). Now we get the kids begging to do T&T but its rubbish round here and the teens throw eggs and flour at pensioners' houses, which is why I ran away to my mother's to avoid the whole thing. We did however do apples and buns, just to keep up with our traditions....

Persephone said...

They're almond cookies, Lisa, and quite delish, I swear!

Apple-bobbing was quite prevalent, and not just at Hallowe'en, during my Canadian childhood, Jane, and also in the States. (It features in the 1966 Hallowe'en TV classic It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown). Buns on a string? Not so much, although I do remember cookies and apples on a string. My mum was appalled, when she first came to Canada from England, to learn of trick-or-treating. She'd gotten used to the idea by the time we were old enough. What did Martin Shaw shell out?

Jane Henry said...

His autograph. He said, But is it a trick or a treat. Cue eight thirteen year old girls in a giggly swoon. NOT my finest hour...

Protege said...

I cannot believe you had snow already; I have been complaining about the cold living here in Scandinavia, but we will not get any snow until most likely December.
The Witches Fingers look deliciously scary.;)
Hope you had a good Halloween.
Thank you again for your helpful mail.:))

Persephone said...

Snow, for a lot (but not all) of Canada usually arrives sometime in November. We have known "green Christmases" in Ottawa, but people get grumpy about it. Being from Victoria, where green Christmases are the norm, I don't mind so much. And you're most welcome; hope it works for you!

P said...

Those finger are delicious gross. I am impressed.