Growing up in Canada, Halloween has always been a fun-filled special holiday for me. As soon as school begins in September, all the kids start to get excited about Halloween and brainstorm their costumes. It is a very kid-centric holiday that the whole family can enjoy. I also love it because it is a very creative holiday – expressing yourself by dressing up as something else, decorating your house, designing your costume – the possibilities are endless! I grew up celebrating Halloween from birth until well into college. Now, as a parent, it’s even more special because I get to celebrate it with my daughter. It is also a very special holiday for grandparents – growing up I spent every Halloween at my grandparents’ house – and we are doing the same with our daughter.
Halloween is always celebrated on the night of October 31st. It is loosely based on an ancient Celtic holiday called Samhain, which marks the start of the dark half of the year and the day where the souls of the dead are said to walk the Earth. In ancient times, people wore costumes to hide their identities and trick evil spirits. These traditions were brought over to Canada by the first British, Irish and Scottish immigrants.
My husband and his family are from Southern India and they had never celebrated Halloween before I joined their family. After my husband & I moved back to my native Canada, I made it my mission to teach him how to celebrate it with us. Little did I know that it would end up being one of his favorite holidays! Indians typically celebrate their festivals with such vigor and I was so happy to see that translate into his enthusiasm about Halloween.
This year will be extra special for us since it is the first year since my Indian in-law’s moved in with us and became official Canadian Permanent Residents – which means we can all celebrate it as a family.
Celebrating Halloween as a Multicultural Family
On the day of Halloween, we make sure all our decorations are ready before dusk (and that includes extra candy!). If it is a weekday, we go to work normally and the children go to school. At around 5 P.M., we feed the children an early dinner. Then, we get dressed up in our costumes (for adults, costumes are optional) and take a medium-sized bucket for the children to collect their candy. No matter if it is rainy, cloudy, or clear weather – we head out! The children go up to the houses and knock on the door, yelling “trick or treat!”. The house owners open the door, admire their costumes and give them a piece of candy, which they put in their bucket.
When we head out trick-or-treating, we make sure to only go to the houses that are decorated with pumpkins or other scary decorations. Halloween is typically only celebrated at residential houses and not in apartment buildings. We tend to go out in our neighborhood, stopping by friends’ houses, relatives’ houses, and then we finish at grandparents’ houses – where the children proudly show off their candy. We walk and explore until the children’s buckets are full and they can no longer carry it – then we know it’s time to go home! We save the bucket of candy as special treats for the children to enjoy year ’round – and we always take a few candies for ourselves after the kids go to bed!
But for us, Halloween is not celebrated on a single night. We spend nearly the whole month of October preparing for it! Some of our favorite annual traditions include:
- a trip to the pumpkin patch
- carving the pumpkins
- doing Halloween-themed crafts
- reading children’s books about Halloween
- decorating our house / parents’ house
- watching scary movies (especially on Halloween night after the kids go to bed!)
- buying/making our costumes
- attending celebratory Halloween events in our city (like the Stanley Park Miniature Ghost Train ride
How do you celebrate Halloween?by