Sunday, November 2, 2008

They celebrate Halloween in Switzerland. Who knew?

I didn't expect Halloween to be observed in Switzerland. So I was surprised when special sections of the supermarket began featuring costumes, candy and decorations. (I didn't see much reflective tape, but that's because this country isn't so litigious.)

Friday night, we got a few trick-or-treaters. Not as many as in the suburbs of Chicago. But more than I would have imagined in the Alps. The costumes were pretty simple. When I brought out the candy, they seemed a bit greedier and more ravenous than American kids. But maybe that was just enthusiasm.

From what I understand, most Europeans think Halloween is more about scaring each other than about dressing up and getting candy. That seems odd until you realize the only information they get about Halloween in America is from horror movies. Jason and Freddy don't knock on doors and ask for Milk Duds. That's why a lot of our non-American friends thought it was weird that we were having a Halloween party at our church.

Three months ago, I was asked to be the chairman of our church's activities committee. I didn't realize exactly what was being asked of me. I learned later that it was a pretty huge deal because it tends to extend beyond the congregation and into the American expat community. Where else are World Health Organization and UN families going to celebrate if not at the Mormon chapel?

I began to feel like an intern who was asked to conduct a shareholder's meeting. Or maybe what Sarah Palin might feel like if McCain is elected and dies within the first 100 days.

But I had a lot of help. The party was cool. People had a nice time. All the kids had too much candy and not enough sleep. And isn't that really what Halloween's all about?

I kept with my unintended tradition of dressing as something creative that no one understands. Past efforts include "Relentless Passion" (shirt off with my entire upperbody painted red), and "Tooth Decay" (candy taped to my clothes that ended in a National Geographic-like feeding frenzy).

This year I tried going as a Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade balloon of myself. I tied strings to my arms, legs and waist and attached little Playmobil men to look like they were keeping me tethered.

A few people saw me and said, "Are you supposed to be Gulliver and the Liliputians?" Points to them for literacy. But that only lasted a few minutes before the strings and toys became too tangled for me to walk. Then I just gave up and went looking for a pair of scissors. Next year, maybe I'll just go as a Jedi like every other 35-year-old guy.

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