As this spooky time of year comes around, I can't help but reflect upon my least scary, most fond Halloween. It was in Tanzania. I was homesick towards the end of October and couldn't pass up a chance to celebrate Halloween even a little bit like we do back home. So an American colleague and I invited the whole office to our compound for a Halloween party.
Tanzanians don’t celebrate Halloween, so how do you explain this fairly silly holiday in a way that would even make sense? Most people I explained Halloween to couldn’t understand why it was fun to scare people and be scared. "Also what’s the point of dressing in a costume?" they'd ask. Very religious people didn't understand why dressing as a ghost or spirit was acceptable. And absolutely no one understood how trick-or-treating played into all of this.
So we mostly just focused on the costume aspect of the holiday. We suggested people dress as anything from goats to soccer players. We were hard pressed to find anything resembling a costume in the marketplace, so I taped fake flowers around my head and went as "Mother Nature". My colleague wore a yellow shirt under a cut up black t-shirt and went as a "bumble bee". It was stretch, but no one could criticize our outfits if we were the ones explaining how to dress in costume.
The day of the party, we went on a mad hunt to find carving pumpkins at the tail end of pumpkin season. We found one beautiful pumpkin that was green and one that was a little moldy. But we made do! We carved our jack o lanterns, made caramel corn and prepared Bobbing for Apples for our houseguests.
Long story short - the party was fun! The costume aspect of the party wasn't a big hit (about 1/2 the people dressed up), but bobbing for apples was! Someone also suggested we start a business making caramel corn, maybe that should be my new side business. I don't think my colleagues are going to adopt Halloween anytime soon, but it was definitely one for the memory books!