There are as many perks to living in Costa Rica, and to live abroad with children, as there are drawbacks. One thing I can’t figure out if not celebrating Halloween is a drawback or a perk. Costa Ricans don’t put any importance on this day at all, so I had to decide if I should dismiss it as just another day, or celebrate it. Now that my son is five years old and I can’t hide the visual temptations sprayed all over American TV, I decided to celebrate it! This Central American country is the perfect place to enjoy your vacations with your family.
Luckily, about a week before Halloween, one of my gringa (American) friends called me up and said that her little neighborhood would be celebrating Halloween ‘US style’, and invited us to come join them on Halloween night. I decided to celebrate in style and take advantage of a huge Central American perk, cheap tailors and seamstresses, by hiring one to custom-make a ninja turtle costume for my son.
So Halloween arrived and my son looked absolutely adorable! But, he had absolutely no idea what Halloween was about beyond the idea of the costume, and it’s quite difficult to explain to a five year old what it is, when you don’t really grasp the whole point of it yourself.
So when we got to my friend’s house, put on his costume, accessorized him with a bag for candy and courted him outside with the rest of the ten kids, all he kept saying to me was : I want Halloween. I answered back saying, This is it. This is it! and with a confused look he climbed the steps with the other kids (who by the way were all foreigners too), and banged on people’s doors and screamed, “Give me candy”
This really made me take a look at the weirdness of it all. Here I was walking around some random Costa Rican neighborhood teaching my little man to demand candy from strangers, when everyday I tell my son not to talk to strangers, and no matter what, DO NOT TAKE ANYTHING FROM THEM. The funny thing is, my son started out at the first house all shy and timid about asking for such amazing treats he was guaranteed to receive, and by the time we got to the fifth house, he was up there pushing his way through the crowd of kids, demanding candy, as though it was his born right to get as much candy as possible.
I had to ask myself, “What was this holiday teaching us?” Throughout the night, I questioned over and over again was it a perk or a disadvantage that my son had grown up without Halloween until now?
So to sum it up, the best part about Halloween is obviously playing dress up. I think I’ve discovered why Costa Ricans have yet to fully integrate this holiday into their yearly celebrations: it’s weird knocking on random people’s doors asking for candy, and why would you do such a thing in the first place?