Unhappy Halloween

I’m a sort of Halloween Grinch, especially here in Hawaii where the season just doesn’t fit. There’s a certain aspect of facing death and pushing oneself into fearful situations that I find meaningful, but all the fake fright and ugly decorations seem so contrived. For example, it just seems trite to wish someone a “happy Halloween.” Then there’s the whole costume effect that causes people to go a bit wild, but that seems like it more fun during carnival. I guess Halloween has taken the place of carnival in America, although Mardi Gras is making a comeback.

Here on Kauai, it just doesn’t feel like Halloween. It’s still hot, summer is barely winding down, the sky is still mostly blue, and everything is even more green in the winter. I can understand the orange and black colors in a misty New England forests, but here they just don’t match the mood. We even went swimming in the ocean today, but come to think of it we did get a scare: we saw a school of fish jumping out of the water, which was murky, and I was afraid that might mean there was a predator around.

Anyways, I don’t want to steal Halloween for anyone, especially the children, so we carved two jack-0-lanterns and are giving away candy tonight. Just to show we can have fun on Halloween, the first is a Hawaiian jack-o-lantern, a papaya getting a tan in the pineapple patch:

A large papaya with a carved face, in front of pineapple plants

The second is a traditional orange pumpkin, though I was happy to see it was grown in Hawaii and not shipped from the mainland:

A glowing orange and black carved pumpkin

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© 2024.


  1. Jim says:

    The papaya jack o’lantern is really neat, seeds coming out of the mouth like drool. Great. The real pumpken is well done too. Congratulations. I never got time to even buy a pumpken this year, and it has been 4 or 5 since I carved one. The photos are well done too.

    See my post on the origin of costumes on the previous post.

    You would probably have liked the celebration more if you had gotten lots of really neat candy on Hollowe’en (and candy was not a common thing for kids to have all the time – like 60 years ago for example). But alas, you spent your begging years in France where the festival did not exist. And when we got to Phoenix I remember two families stuffed religious tracks against the holiday in your candy bags. Witches were not in with the fundamentalists there and finding people that passed out guilt instead of candy was a real bummer (for me at least).

  2. Andy says:

    That’s not drool, those are the other baby fruit that the Papaya Monster has eaten. Actually, it was accidental, but when I saw the seeds taking the photos, I left them in. I carved the papaya, and Sonja did the pumpkin. You should try it next year. It really only took 15 minutes to do each one, at the last minute of course.

    I actually have fond memories of trick-or-treating in Massachussetts, and I don’t recall missing it in France. It was fun in Phoenix again, though I was a bit older. I remember you were sore when I dressed up as a clown with one of your ties that you still thought was stylish (Jim is my Dad). The religious stuff didn’t affect me then, all the kids thought those people were stupid, and we got plenty of candy anyways.

    I enjoy the trick-or-treating at Halloween, from seeing kids in costumes to finishing the leftover candy. In my opinion, Halloween is (and should remain) a children’s festival, despite it’s origins. Adults have adapted it to fit either their compulsive need to decorate their yard or their twisted need to display some hidden morbidity. I guess there would be no real scare for the children to face if there were no make-believe haunted yards or stories of sickos circulating in the community, but it just doesn’t seem necessary. I see a lot of advertising for adults-only costume parties at bars and night-clubs, and that just seems like a lame excuse to drink, sort of like St. Patrick’s Day in the US.

    The sad thing is that marketers have pushed and encouraged Halloween to spread in Europe. And they are pushing the costume party aspect of it, because that is so much more easily adopted than the community trick-or-treating aspect. This has resulted in some backlash reported for the first time by the AP this year.

    To be fair, when I lived in France 5 years ago, I knew a French lady who had lived in the US with her child and loved the idea of Halloween so much she imported it to her neighborhood. She had presented the idea long ago at a community meeting and then organized it every year. She helped the neighborhood kids with costumes and then she and other parents chapparoned them around the neighborhood in the late afternoon, followed by a kid’s party at the local park. Then at night she held an adult costume party for neighbors and friends at her house. Come to think of it, Carnival has been declining in popularity in Europe for various reasons so maybe Halloween is filling the costume party void.

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