November 1, 2015

Modern Day Pioneers: Halloween in Brazil

Halloween. I've long thought this fabulous holiday should spread across the world. It doesn't seem right to keep this one to ourselves. I was pleasantly surprised this week to find that some Brazilians celebrate Halloween. 

According to the clerk at the party/costume shop, Halloween started in Brazil in 2010. He said it had something to do with Chinese imports coming to Brazil. And, every year since it has been gaining in popularity. 

I checked it out online and found that mostly English classes are the ones to teach Brazilians how Halloween works. At our kids' school, our girls (aged 4 and 7) wore costumes to school, had a party and did some trick or treating. Our 9 year old colored some Halloween pictures in English class, our 10 year old was supposed to watch a Halloween movie but there were some technical difficulties and it didn't happen. For our 12 year old, it basically wasn't a big deal and no activities were planned.

So there is a congregation of our church in Sao Paulo with a high percentage of Americans living in it. We find out that they were planning a Trunk or Treat party complete with a chili and cornbread cook off. And because we're pretty much Parents of the Year, we crashed the party.

We brought some rolls (with some corn added to them) and decorated our trunk with a couple of gory heads without bodies as well as passed out little treat bags to the kids. The kids loved it and we felt very welcome in what by nature can be an awkward situation...since we knew no one. 

Several people talked to us and thought we must have come from the American school which was nearby. We'd never heard of it. The kids spoke English and made many friends. Graeden, who for the first time in his life is struggling with school (or rather Portuguese) was amazed that a kid had lived in Sao Paulo for 4 years and didn't speak Portuguese beyond simple greetings. I'm grateful for Graeden's discovery. He's a bright boy and is making progress in communication. Just not as fast as he likes. And he just saw one end of the spectrum. The end he thought he was on. But now knows he isn't.

 So when a few of our new friends found out we were actively looking for places to move in their area of Sao Paulo, they invited us to move into their ward. Like 7 different people. I haven't felt so welcome in church, well, ever. And it wasn't even Sunday.

And now we need to decide if we'd rather live near some of our fellow expats or if we choose a more Brazilian neighborhood. There seem to be advantages to both options.

Back to Halloween...we hadn't planned on trick or treaters, but a few came by at 3:30pm. I didn't realize that would happen and found out after they were sent away empty handed. I quickly got our leftover stash from the Trunk or Treat party out and started setting up shop for Graeden to manage while we took the other kids out around our neighborhood.

So what's funny about Brazilian Halloween? The kids don't dress up. A few had face paint on, but otherwise they were costume-less. To see a group of 8 or 10 kids going from house to house with just grocery sacks to hold their loot was hilarious. Like they didn't quite understand what Halloween was all about. We rang the bells to several homes but only a handful were prepared with treats. Even a few who weren't prepared found something to give. That's what's being a Halloween Pioneer in Brazil is all about, right? Building awareness. Maybe these families will participate more fully next year?

Another awesome thing is that the kids don't go trick or treating at night. I like that. Not only are there more hours in the afternoon to get candy, you don't worry about running over kids in the street on a dark and rainy night...which is exactly what I understand Seattle got for weather last night.

The Brazilians loved seeing our kids in costumes. One lady and her husband stopped their car next to us on the street and told us to come to their house. She was going to make a cake. We went looking for their house about an hour later, but unfortunately, couldn't find it. Another couple must have seen us from a side street while we were talking and came running up to us just to give the kids candy. They were adorable.

When we got back to the house, Jett stayed outside (with our body-less heads hanging from the trees) and scared kids who came by. Then he'd give them a treat. Ha ha ha, that's exactly the kind of education these kids need in order to understand the spirit of the holiday. 

Next year, we'll have to plan our Halloween a little more thoroughly. It'll be easier now that we have a general idea of what is expected. And by expected, I mean we don't have to do anything. Most don't celebrate. But we did have maybe 35 or 40 Brazilian kids trick or treat at our house. That's an impressive number to me...especially considering Halloween is a foreign holiday.

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