Halloween in Hawaii
Even though Hawaii is part of the United States, sometimes the culture is so different that it feels like another world (in an entirely positive way). Given the differences from the mainland combined with the vastly different climate, it was hard to know what fall would feel like. In early October, the temperature dropped a few degrees and the appearance of a giant cockroach on a nearby house made it clear that Halloween was a thing here. At least, I hoped it was, since I really didn't need a year-round reminder of the fact that cockroaches were also a thing here.
From there, ghosts and skeletons started to pop up all over the neighbourhood. And not just any old ghosts and skeletons, but the mummified zombie kind that are exceptionally gory and just seem odd when sitting amidst lush green gardens against a backdrop of blue skies and breathtaking mountains. Since it doesn't look a lot like fall, it makes sense that people take decorating to another level.
I've since been told that Hawaii goes big on holidays. Our across-the-street-neighbours spent the whole month preparing for Halloween. When we commented on the elaborate display in mid-October, they told us they weren't even close to being done. Awesome. We sleep with the windows open upstairs, and there is nothing like piping horror noises from the dozen motion-sensor Halloween machines across the street into your childrens' bedroom all night long to keep them up.
I had been worried that without the fall weather we would miss the season entirely. L's school had a field trip to the pumpkin patch just like his Maryland preschool, which was surreal. There were pumpkins and hay rides and farm animals and corn fields, all nestled at the foot of a mountain overlooking the beach in sunny, 80 degree weather. It was different, and yet it served its purpose in feeling like fall.
GL's school had a fantastic Halloween costume parade, which also happened on a beautiful sunny morning with the mountains as a backdrop. There was music streaming through the loud speakers and the whole school was decorated for the week. The costumes were great and the teachers and principal were completely involved and dressed up (as emojis!) There was dancing and a general sense that the people here just like to celebrate.
On Halloween night, it became clear that they really do go big in Hawaii. We went trick or treating, and after visiting four houses our baskets were almost full. Kentlands in Maryland used to be our favourite trick or treat hangout. People flock there to trick or treat since the whole neighbourhood participates and it has the sense of a huge block party. Still, that was fairly low-key compared to trick or treating in Hawaii. Each house gave each child a big handful of candy. Many gave out full bags of candy that they had prepared in advance. I used to think it was extremely generous when people would tell our children that they could take two pieces of candy (I still do!), and here they virtually give you a full basket.
It was L's first Halloween with known food allergies, and he knows exactly what he can and can't eat. As kind neighbours would thrust candy full of milk and nuts at him, he graciously declined. Even though I told him I'd trade him out for things he could eat and even though we always end up throwing away most of the candy we get after it sits there for a year anyway, it turns out trick or treating is less appealing when the treats might as well be poison. He helped his little sister get her candy, then walked away with his masked head hung low, only half enjoying the fruitless process. It's how I'd feel if someone gave me a stack of Starbucks gift cards that were only good for pumpkin spice lattes. Ugh.
Still, he loved island-style Halloween. Thankfully some candy is dairy free, and thankfully it's not *just* about candy. There was no shortage of distractions. Possibly the nicest thing was that it was warm enough that nobody felt uncomfortable. Well, except for me, since they insisted I dress up and it's virtually impossible to navigate hilly streets with motion sensor devices on sidewalks when you're wearing a Sia wig. Note to self.