Halloween is one of my favorite celebrations. A day were you get to show off your creativity by dressing up, setting up spooky decorations, and carving pumpkins. It is also the time of year when the leaves start falling, everything is pumpkin or pumpkin spice, and your diet goes out the window with the start of Thanksgiving.
But, what do you do if you live in the Southern Hemisphere were Halloween is only a concept known through American movies, October is at the end of spring and beginning of summer (no leaves turning beautiful colours nor falling to the ground), and pumpkins are not in season.
The answer is you make do with what you can find. In the last couple of years, Halloween has been rising in popularity in Australia mainly due to more Americans traveling or living there. But, for the 9 years I was there it was extremely hard to find pumpkins during the month of October and if you did they were EXPENSIVE!
During my second year in Sydney, I was strolling through the grocery store wondering what I was going to do as there were no pumpkins and then I saw them….the large box of watermelons! Watermelons are roundish and you can carve them, but the best part of carving a watermelon is you get to eat as you carve! Plus, they are nowhere as hard to carve as some pumpkins. So, that’s were my tradition of carving watermelons started.
Fast forward almost 10 years and I found myself in Fort St John, British Columbia standing in the grocery store a week before Halloween asking where I could find the pumpkins. They were all sold out! Last year was a really mild and wet Autumn and by the time October came they were all sold out and what was left had gone bad. I laughed and asked where I could find the watermelons. They gave me a strange look but pointed over to the shelf. Once again I had a carved watermelon for Halloween and it was a hit with all of the children! Some almost forgot to ask for candy as they were so impressed by the watermelon.
So, this year I decided to shop early and I got two pumpkins…but not to ruin a decade old tradition I bought a watermelon as well.
It was Matt’s first Canadian Halloween at home, so he was excited to see what it was all about. He could finally experience giving candy out, but he wanted to see how it was all done first. I told him it was not hard, kids come, kids say trick or treat, you give them candy, and they run away. It is the only day of the year where strangers can give candy to children and it is fine. So, some kids came and I asked them what they were, gave them candy, and they ran away. I turned to him and he exclaimed, “is that all!” Yep, nothing to it.
Little things like this always make me think about all of the different experiences I have had growing up in North American compared to his childhood in Australia. There are some great holidays and celebrations over there as well, but I wouldn’t trade Halloween for any of them. We just modified it and made it fun with watermelons…a little different…just like us.