I love Halloween. I have so many memories of it from my childhood — picking and carving pumpkins, dressing up and going trick-or-treating, going to creepy houses, on spooky hayrides, or through haunted forests, or just staying home and giving out candy. I like it all. Benjamin has experiencesd enough of Halloweens at this point to remember it, and to look forward to it this year. So, although we really didn’t know how Austriants celebrated Hallloween, it was important to me that we do something to make the occassion.
Benjamin really wanted to go trick-or-treating, but after our first investigations, the prospects looked pretty dim. This time of year in Austria is much more about celebating fall than it is about celebrating Halloween. But, we persisted, and finally found out (through an American coworker of Dan’s) about a little bit of trick-or-treating done in Vienna. It took a while to get the details, but we finally found out exactly where to go.
So, we set about making things happen. We made treat bags for the kids (as our treat pumpkins are apparently in storage at home) and dug out costumes. Dan came home a bit early from work, and we got everyone dressed and ready and headed out. We took the tram, then took the same tram again (got a little lost), hopped on a bus, rode it out to the end, and trekked up a really big hill.
We’d been told that the houses participating in trick-or-treating would be decorated and easy to find. The first house we tried — no one home. But, we continued up the hill and came upon an entire neighborhood of homes decorated in pumpkin lights or jack-o-lanterns. By the second house, Benjamin was bounding up to the door shouting, “Trick or treat!” before the door was even opened. By the time we were through the one neighborhood, we had successfully visited about a half dozen houses. Benjamin had a fantastic time, and Liam, who was enjoying his first trick-or-treat (he slept through last year) had a great time and kept his costume on the entire time. We walked back down the hill, got on the bus, walked for a bit, got on the same bus again (not lost this time), got on the tram and came home. Then, we lit the pumpkins and had the boys try out their trick-or-treat skills here at home. It was a successful evening.
Trick-or-treating defintely seems to be an American thing: every house we went to was inhabited by Americans, and most of the trick-or-treaters we came across were English speaking. But it’s catching on here — we saw a few groups of German-speaking kids going from house to house, and a few of the houses we went to this evening had run out of candy (before 8:00), so I’m guessing that they had more people come by their houses than they did last year. We saw a few costumed kids on the way back, as well (including one little girl with quite a bucket full of treats). The Austrian kids seem to be as in to the “tricks” as the “treats” — we encountered “silly string” and shaving cream all along our route.
We didn’t really experience an Austrian Halloween — we experienced an American Halloween transplanted here. Mostly, we want to try to experience local culture while we’re here, but for today, my kids got to have their Halloween, and so did I. I’m happy we did it, even if it was a little American. We all had a good time, but Halloween is definitely something I miss about home.