As usual, Halloween is not happening here.
My sons took care of it one year, and it never came back. Like a beaten monster, it slunk into the woods and melted away. (Much to the villagers’ relief).
What happened was this.
Television and magazines suddenly started a ‘Halloween’ campagne, to encourage the French to get out, get disguised, and get candy (and get pumpkins while they were at it…) and get Halloween.
In the face of mostly massive indifference, the commercial gods of the holidays tried to wedge Halloween into the French psyche.
“Halloween is not an American holiday!” the newscasters intoned. “It originated with the Celts, who were, as everyone knows, French. So, Q.E.D. Halloween is French.”
No one believed that, but the French, willing to be modern and forward thinking, not to mention commercially inclined, decided to give it a try. Mayors and village fête commitees got together and drafted notes to the villagers (that were stuck in mailboxes all over town):
“Dear French Villager,
This is your chance to celebrate Halloween! Tonight, at 7 pm, children are invited to present themselves at the village square. Wear disguises! Carry bags for candy! After a parade around the square, the children will go around the village for trick or treating! Villagers – stock up on candy and be prepared to open your doors and give out candy!
The village fête commitee.”
This is what my sons understood:
Dear French Halloween neophyte – while you gather in a huge group at the village square and troop around in a crowd – (Impossible to trick or treat in these conditions…the kids in the back won’t get anything!) We’ll be charging around the village – cleaning up the loot before you.
This is what my sons did. They galloped through the village dressed like terrorists, shooting plastic bee-bees at the villagers who wouldn’t play along with Halloween. “What? You don’t open your door? You have no candy? Take that!” And the next day, there were bright yellow bee bees scattered in the gutter, and the villagers, bemused and perplexed, explained that they gave all their candy to the first group of trick or treaters…(My sons had bags of candy, the beasts.) My daughter, who had gone with the crowd, had three or founr leftover pieces of candy in the bottom of her bag.
More notes followed. My sons were grounded. The mayor decided, after fielding complaints left and right, that Halloween was more trouble than it was worth.
The next year, no notes. No Halloween.
My sons dressed up in suits and ties and ridiculous hats, grabbed my daughter (where was I? I think I was at a parent /teacher meeting…) and dressed her as a little witch, and marched her through town, trick or treating as if nothing had happened. And came home with LOOT.
The next year (I’m probably skipping years here, but that’s getting old – your memory fails you.) My daughter went out with Auguste, having first disguised the dog as a centapede. She got so much for her efforts she’s decided to go out again this year.
The villagers make an effort to please her. Last year, they gave her candy, bottles of water, nuts, cookies, apples, and oranges. Because she’s half American, they are indulgant.
Because they are French, and don’t understand Halloween, they don’t just give one or two candies, but the whole box. That’s why my kids love Halloween here in the village.