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Do Americans not understand the meaning of Halloween?

(110 Posts)
Yaley Wed 01-Nov-17 11:26:20

Preparing to be flamed by American Mumsneters! Browsing the lower brow media today looking at photos of celebrities in the US taking their children trick or treating. Nobody looks spooky. There are no witches, ghosts, vampires or skeletons. It's a come as you wish fancy dress party. And they seem to go trick or treating in the middle of the afternoon! I've just seen a picture of Giselle Bunchen and her husband dressed as avocado on toast.

I don't get it.

Or maybe they don't?


Anecdoche Wed 01-Nov-17 11:28:10

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Anecdoche Wed 01-Nov-17 11:28:29

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

MissionItsPossible Wed 01-Nov-17 11:33:32

I wondered this too. The costumes and houses generally look great and put a lot of effort into the decorations and costumes, but hardly any of them are scary or Halloween themed confused

stopgap Wed 01-Nov-17 11:39:04

My kids yesterday were Ninja Turtles, so no, not spooky. I must ask my husband if it was always thus, but it's certainly been that way in the decade plus since I've lived here.

The houses are amazing, though.

TwoBlueFish Wed 01-Nov-17 11:39:58

It is different in the states, but usually house decorations are still spooky and much more elaborate than here.

Kursk Wed 01-Nov-17 11:41:07

Yes we do, it’s just become commercial, like Christmas has

WitchesHatRim Wed 01-Nov-17 11:41:49

Hardly just the USA. Holly Willoughby was a unicorn, Phillip Schofield something from Game of Thrones. There was also Wellard the dog and Tin Man.

Cheeseontoastie Wed 01-Nov-17 11:42:58

Not just America. I went to a Halloween party in a soft play centre on Saturday and children were not all dressed scary. There was a Snow White, elsa, tinkerbell, and even a little girl in a Christmas Santa dress!

Fromrussiawithdove Wed 01-Nov-17 11:43:07

Funny because I was thinking the exact same thing! It looked more like world book day or something. A few of the young women just use it as a pass to wear as little clothing as possible and not be called a slut ....

AndhowcouldIeverrefuse Wed 01-Nov-17 11:43:17

I've just seen a picture of Giselle Bunchen and her husband dressed as avocado on toast.
Brilliant! grin

MissionItsPossible Wed 01-Nov-17 11:46:16

Hardly just the USA. Holly Willoughby was a unicorn, Phillip Schofield something from Game of Thrones. There was also Wellard the dog and Tin Man.

Alan Carr went as Gemma Collins. That was scary. :O

ProfessorCat Wed 01-Nov-17 11:46:19

A white walker fits in very well with Halloween, so not sure why Phillip Scofield has been brought into it.

Darlingsof Wed 01-Nov-17 11:46:22

It's just the way it's evolved there from a scary fright thing to a huge family event where people get really creative with costumes and throw in some humour. Neighbourhoods do still do the 'scary' decorations on houses (some amazingly elaborate) for the trick and treaters but a lot of little kids dress colourfully. Basically everyone got bored of being a bat or a ghost year in year out! Each neighbourhood has set times when T&T will be happening, advertised in the schools or the local paper and it usually finishes early cos it'll the little ones who do it and to stop people being bothered all night by ringing doorbells and because goes on to a party some where. So not only do they understand Halloween they absolutely rock it... you go over some time and see for yourself...

PineappleScrunchie Wed 01-Nov-17 11:55:55

When we were living in the US we were told that the houses are decorated spookily but the costumes are to disguise you from the bad spirits/ghosts/monsters so don’t need to be spooky.

It was a really fun community time, essentially a large street party and very family orientated. A lot of the costumes/decorations were home made so not necessarily more commercial than UK.

Slimthistime Wed 01-Nov-17 11:58:09

Pineapple "When we were living in the US we were told that the houses are decorated spookily but the costumes are to disguise you from the bad spirits/ghosts/monsters so don’t need to be spooky."

this - I thought that's what guising was for originally so they have it got it right.

Avocado on toast - brilliant grin

Rafflesway Wed 01-Nov-17 11:58:20

We rented a villa in a very nice part of Florida 25 years ago - before Halloween was a big thing in the U.K. - and I have to say the surrounding properties were “Dressed” fantastically for Halloween.

Front lawns turned into graveyards, garages into witches covens etc.

DH and I were blown away. The effort they went to was phenomenal.

justforthisthread101 Wed 01-Nov-17 12:00:51

Actually, it's here that gets it wrong.

I'm not American, I'm Irish, middle aged and dressing up has long been part of our tradition as it's originally Celtic. My parents went out on Halloween (we never called it trick or treating) and they're the wrong side of 70. It's all to do with the end of the harvest and the changing of the seasons. Halloween is part of a Celtic festival called Samhain - it's a time when the boundaries between this world and the other world are a bit looser. At this time of the year, the spirits of the dead (but not necessarily ghoulish ones) would transition back to this world and people would leave offerings of food and drink out for them - hence the dressing up and going from house to house.

What's developed in the UK is, in my opinion, a misappropriation of the American tradition. I remember dressing up as a queen, a Munchkin and a variety of other things when I was little. Looking at photos of friends' children in Ireland last night, while most now do scary costumes, a good number still don't.

MerryMarigold Wed 01-Nov-17 12:04:31

It's a come as you wish fancy dress party.

That's what I hope it develops more into here. It's about fun, community and giving/ receiving sweets. Not demon worship! But if you're doing it for that reason, well...ermm..maybe you're doing it wrong.

FrancisCrawford Wed 01-Nov-17 12:04:35

It is only recently that the whole “dress spookily” thing has arisen.

It just used to be kids dressing up to go out guising. I’ve got photos from sixties showing me as a cat etc.

And this year I got my great niece a cat costume which she adored.

ImminentDisaster Wed 01-Nov-17 12:06:49

I think I'd rather have the American version. I may be wrong, but theirs seems not to have the nasty undertones ours has.

whiskyowl Wed 01-Nov-17 12:08:07

I have actually spent Halloween in the States - in Philly - and it is very different! The time and effort some people take to decorate is amazing - there were a lot of natural decorations using gourds, coloured sweetcorn etc that were simply stunning, alongside more plastic-scary things like giant spiders etc. Honestly, the former were so beautiful, it made me really think we could learn a lot!

The night before Halloween is a big deal too - it's called Mischief Night, and it's all about pranks, many of which seemed to involve chucking eggs! It was a lot rowdier and more riotous than Halloween in the historic downtown area where we were staying. Costumes on the night itself tended to be basically fancy dress instead of just ghoulies and ghosties and long-legged beasties and things that go bump the night. There were also ghost tours of things like the penitentiary and other historic buildings, so more recreational stuff going on.

CoyoteCafe Wed 01-Nov-17 12:09:18


Kids can dress as whatever they want to for Halloween, and its been that way since at least 1970 (which is as far back as my Halloween memories go). Princesses, ballerinas, mermaids, astronauts, firefighters where all fine back in the 70s. Nothing new there.

The time of day for tricking or treating is usually early evening. Remember that some parts of the US are sunnier and have longer days than the UK because they are much further south. The sun doesn't set until after 6 pm in some parts of the US and it's not really dark until 7), so 5:30 still looks like afternoon. Southern California is a nicer place to live that Britain this time of year (no offensive, but I like sunshine).

As far as the "meaning" of Halloween, it's a day that kids get to be whatever they want, and take candy from strangers. That's it. It's fun. (Anything else gets fundamentalist Christians in the US all riled up, and that's not a good thing to do. Remember we settled by Puritans, and they were not fun people).

Day of the Dead merges with Halloween in the Southwest, and it has actual meaning.

NameChangeFamousFolk Wed 01-Nov-17 12:11:26

It is interesting looking at the origins of Hallowe'en. The Scottish and Irish imported the tradition of Samhain to America with the waves of immigration there, I believe.

To be fair, America took that particular ball and ran with it grin

MyDcAreMarvel Wed 01-Nov-17 12:11:45

Halloween is the USA is far nicer, children dressing up in cute costumes. Dressing children up a devil and killers clowns is grotesque.

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