Halloween, Holidays and Happiness

Halloween, holidays and happiness

When I was a kid we didn’t go trick or treating because my dad banned it saying Halloween was an evil American invention.

Well, he probably didn’t use those actual words but that was the gist of it. Even back in the seventies globalization was a concern.

20 years later, when I had kids of my own, a little voice in my head nagged that Halloween was just a commercial holiday, a way to sell more sweets and an unfortunate by-product of globalization and greed.

But part of me just wanted to celebrate Halloween anyway.

When my kids got old enough they were keen to go out trick or treating. Mad keen.

I love dressing up and fancy dress costumes so I was keen for them to have an excuse to get dressed up too. Okay, I admit, I was probably keen for an excuse to get dressed up myself.


The Candy kids get even nuttier on Halloween

But I didn’t like the idea of knocking on stranger’s doors asking for sweets. Or candies as you call them in North America. Or lollies as you call them in Australia and New Zealand.

So we compromised by dressing up then going trick or treating at friends’ houses. They were prewarned about our visit and would be sending their kids round to our house too.

Halloween, holidays and happiness

Watermelon Halloween lantern

That was in New Zealand and it’s no surprise the kids loved it.

I grew up in England and Halloween is very different there than in the United States. In England you have to dress up as something scary – think witch, ghost or zombie – but in North America Halloween seems to embrace dressing up as anything you please.

We went to several fantastic Halloween parties organized by Canadians and Americans in Costa Rica with everything from cheerleaders to gorillas represented.

We don’t get enough excuses to dress up and tap into our inner child so now I embrace Halloween.

Halloween jellyfish costume

I have no idea why I wanted to be a giant blue jelly fish. But I did.

Yes, I am anti-globalization. I’d love every country to celebrate their own unique festivals and I’ve enjoyed celebrating many of them too.

I’ll never forget Bastille Day in Paris, La Dia de Independencia in Costa Rica or the That Luang Festival in Laos.

But heck if I want to celebrate Halloween I will. Greed and globalization aside it’s got a lot going for it.

We have fun on Halloween. We come up with evil ways to make Halloween lanterns out of watermelons, we eat sloppy red jelly disguised as brains and we get dressed up as giant blue jellyfish.

Sorry dad – I’ve moved to the dark side and I love it.

I just wish you were still around so you could join in too.

Halloween jellyfish costume

Want to be a jellyfish? This is what you need, plus lights or glow sticks to put inside so you glow after dark!

Halloween jellyfish costume

Here's the finished product - me and my girl all set to GLOW at a Halloween party.

Halloween jellyfish costume

Trick or treat?

What’s your take on Halloween? What makes you happy?

Share This Story, Choose Your Platform!


  1. Harleena Singh@Freelance Writer October 31, 2011 at 3:43 pm - Reply

    Hi Annabel,

    Happy Halloween!

    Love the post and the wonderful pics of your kids and yourself! People at our end also don’t celebrate Halloween as a festival or occasion, but it is something that my parents always did for us, so did we for our kids.

    Just to see the kids go crazy dressing up with weird costumes, cut up all the possible shapes of pumpkins or watermelons, have their friends cook up weird things is a good enough site for us now!

    I guess it just adds more fun and enjoyment to the present moment- and something that the family as a whole enjoys.

    Thanks for sharing :)

    • Annabel Candy October 31, 2011 at 5:28 pm - Reply

      Hi Harleena, thanks for sharing your experiences:) I guess it is mainly fun for kids but some people never grow up do they?!

  2. Extreme John October 31, 2011 at 4:35 pm - Reply

    It’s great to hear that you had a fun experience. Halloween is not celebrated to summon evil things but to have fun with your family and friends and share your happy thoughts and feelings together for a unity.

  3. barbara November 1, 2011 at 1:42 am - Reply

    Love the watermelon jack-0-lantern! and the jelly fish costume… I would never have thought of that. Personally I hate halloween but I love people having fun. You definitely took the right approach when you didn’t let them go house to house ‘begging’. That’s the part I truly hate.

    • Annabel Candy November 1, 2011 at 9:14 am - Reply

      Hi Barbara,

      I agree. The Trick or Treating was last night here and there were hundreds of kids out and about with zillions of sweets. Too many of both! I guess that’s when it becomes a real problem:)

  4. Hev November 1, 2011 at 3:03 am - Reply

    Ha ha this really made me laugh,I’m in rainy Britain and my dad had the same idea as yours, seriously I could see them both saying the same sentences.i suppose that’s the was they were brought up.
    Anyway needless to say like you we are celebrating with a scary buffet and our pumpkin, oh actually I still need to finish that lol.
    It’s a bit too rainy to go out tonight but we will still have fun anyway.
    Thanks too I always love your posts and look forward to reading them when they appear in my inbox, it’s like my treat I have to deal with everything else in my inbox before I can read your post.
    So thanks for making me laugh so many times Annabel.

    • Annabel Candy November 1, 2011 at 9:15 am - Reply

      Hi Hev,

      Fantastic to hear from you and thanks for the lovely feedback. Our dads didn’t know what they were missing out on;)

  5. Brenda November 1, 2011 at 4:15 am - Reply

    Hi Annabel,

    Glad to see your family enjoying Halloween. Our family has always enjoyed the holiday. We decorate the house, dress up, trick or treat, carve pumpkins, watch non-gross Halloween movies, go to Halloween sleepovers at our kid’s dance school and my two oldest were even involved in creating a haunted house and participating in it a few years. It’s all good and great fun. The only down side is the possible gross/bloody side that can go to far and the mountain of sweets. But those can easily be down played.

    We love walking around trick-or-treating and seeing the decorated houses and quite frankly it is the one day a year we see our neighbors and feel like part of the community. I don’t see it as begging when everyone is in on it and understands the fun of it. People enjoy seeing the kids in their costumes and some people even put a “haunted house” in their garage for people to tour.

    Technically Halloween didn’t start in America but it is well known for enjoying it. When we did research about moving to Australia or New Zealand……… how the holiday is handled down under was of great concern to us since we enjoy it so much. My son read about people’s comments down under and their very negative rationalizations for poo pooing the whole thing without really understanding it since they never really experienced it. Then in turn we read about Aussie’s who had lived in the USA and had then changed their minds about Halloween after being a part of it. They totally “got” it. My kids refer to people who are down on the whole holiday “boo humbugs” instead of “bah Humbug” after the famous Scrooge of Christmas. I know this might sound disrespectful of other people’s opinions but many seriously need to lighten up. It is a opportunity for happy memories.

    Loved the Jelly Fish costume………..very creative. Thanks for sharing Annabel

    • Annabel Candy November 1, 2011 at 9:18 am - Reply

      Hi Brenda, lol, Boo Humbugs is brilliant! It seemed to be pretty huge in my neighbourhood last night with lots of houses decorated and looking forward to seeing the kids dressed up and having fun. Only one house had a sigh saying No Trick or Treaters! The neighbourhood Boo Humbug I suppose:)

  6. Cate November 1, 2011 at 6:30 am - Reply

    Hi Annabel…
    one of those funny things, being from England myself, trick or treating was not what happened on Hallowe’en when I was a kid (in the ‘sixties/’seventies). I remember we generally had a bonfire (not as big as Guy Fawkes – still to come this week), bobbed for apples, and ran around in the dark scaring one another. I’m not a fan of trick or treating, especially since someone pulled up my lettuces after being given a nice little cache of sweets one year.
    Historically, Hallowe’en developed from a pagan celebration – the night when the bridge between worlds was strongest, when spirits could walk amongst the living, when the dead could be remembered. I like the idea of setting out a meal with an extra place for long gone family who might come visiting, for lighting a fire to share amongst all the houses in the community, and for preparing for the dark season to come (winter – a bit redundant at this time of year, here in Australia).
    That said, it is fun to dress up, and in this day and age, why not? – hope you and the Candy kids had a great evening. I love your jelly fish and will store away that clever little piece of engineering for an appropriate moment.

    • Annabel Candy November 1, 2011 at 9:20 am - Reply

      Hi Cate,

      Sorry to hear about your lettuces! I don’t know if anyone plays any tricks round here. Yes, Guy Fawkes is much bigger in the UK and so close to Halloween too.

      Oooh, love the idea of remembering loved ones!

  7. Kate Hayes November 1, 2011 at 6:54 am - Reply

    Love the jelly fish costume! This is our first Halloween in “civilization” in 6 years and Lily is having the time of her life! Memories of seeing you in your “Miss Behaving” prom dress and the parties we had in CR will always remain my favorites.
    Keep having fun! That is what life is all about!
    love and scary hugs!
    Kate, John and Lily – your partners in global adventures

    • Annabel Candy November 1, 2011 at 9:21 am - Reply

      Hi Kate,

      I cannot imagine how big it is in the States! Have fun, I know you will:)

  8. molly kelash November 1, 2011 at 8:40 am - Reply

    Love your costume, Annabel — you seem to have adopted the holiday with aplomb! Halloween is absolutely my favorite holiday and when I lived in England for two years in the ’70s without celebrating it, it was a hardship difficult to describe (sniff, sniff). This year, Lilia is calling it quits since people don’t look too kindly on kids over 13 knocking on the doors, but Miss Emm, 12, has the best costume EVER. She made a giant cereal box she could wear, splattered it with “blood” and is carrying a fake bloody knife. Can you guess what she is…? A CEREAL KILLER!

    • Annabel Candy November 1, 2011 at 9:22 am - Reply

      Hi Molly, oh poor Lilia, that’s sad. Luke went out and he’s 13. Cereal killer! Lol, my kids might want to try that next year:)

  9. Teresa November 1, 2011 at 1:01 pm - Reply

    I sooooooooo wanted to go to a fancy dress as pregnant Britney spears…not not the head shaving version..the Starbucks coffee, bare footed version…I have no idea why either…so blue jelly fish sounds quite reasonable to me haha

  10. Seana Smith November 1, 2011 at 7:23 pm - Reply

    I miss carving pumpkins!! And having to do a ‘turn’, a poem or a song before we got sweeties as kids. In our street people put out a balloon if they’re happy to have ghosts, ghouls and goblins ay a visit. My little ones had such fun with the neighbours… and I have managed not to scoff ALL their lolly loot. Win!

  11. BusiChic November 1, 2011 at 8:49 pm - Reply

    Hi Annabel,

    The costumes you’ve made are fabulous!

    And as a traveller, I think one of the great things to do is to learn about the great things that different cultures do and take bits of them home. Like my parents always taught me to not speak to strangers. But once when I was living in France, I was walking home down a grand boulevard and scoffing an escargot (the pastry) when a gentleman – the only other person around – stopped and greeted me with a brisk and couteous, ‘bonjour’ then kept walking. I thought that this was so charming, simple and human that I try to do that back home. Ok so I take it a step further and also ask to take their photo to post on the interwebs but that’s another story!

    I suspect that your father would like the spirit of creativity, tradition and bonding you’ve created for your kids. Wonderful stuff, what do you do with the photos from each year? I’m currently completely obsessed with turning favourite images from each year into drink coasters or dinner placemats!

  12. J.D. Meier November 2, 2011 at 3:21 am - Reply

    Now I want to check out England for Halloween. I bet it must be a great time, and there’s something to be said for the classic scary stuff.

  13. Drina Murphy November 5, 2011 at 3:36 am - Reply

    I live in England and agree that we dont celebrate it anywhere near like the US, in face people are more likely to turn their lights off all night so you think no-one is in;) BTW love the jellyfish:)

Leave A Comment