Halloween, we did celebrate it in the Netherlands too, but I never really knew where Halloween came from. I think it’s about time, living in the U.S. to find out the story behind Halloween.
To my surprise Halloweeen is actually Scottish / Irish and was brought to the U.S. by immigrants from Scotland and Ireland. I find this kind of surprising, because it seems like Halloween is much bigger in the U.S. than it ever was in the Netherlands. That’s a bit strange to me, because the Netherlands is pretty close to Ireland and Scotland. Why did it get bigger in the U.S.?
While I was looking deeper into the history of Halloween, I found this video:
This video pretty much explains everything I was looking for, except for the part why Halloween is so big in the U.S. and not that big in the Netherlands.
I think it might have something to do with this:
- Some people that move to another country tend to hold on to their cultural habits even more than they did while living in their own country. So maybe the Scottish and Irish people that moved to the U.S. made it even bigger in the U.S. then ‘back home’.
- In the Netherlands a lot of people where Catholic or Protestant and I think a lot of people thought Halloween was a paganish celebration. Father Augustine Thompson refutes this.
- Dutch people are known for thinking ‘Doe maar gewoon, dan doe je al gek genoeg’ – ‘Please act normal, because that’s already crazy enough’.
- Dutch people hold on strong to ancient traditions, which Halloween is not to them. (If you doubt about this, you have probably heard about the ‘Zwarte Piet’ discussion that is still going on in the Netherlands.
- In the South of the Netherlands they already celebrate ‘Carnaval’ and people dress up for that already. The origin is different, but this still might feel as ‘too much of the same’.
- Dutch people do not fall so easily for ‘commercial holidays’. They are less into buying all kinds of Halloween stuff, for just one day a year. I think they rather spend their money on something else.
However, I do think Halloweeen is becoming bigger in the Netherlands nowadays.
I do see differences between how people celebrate Halloween in the Netherlands and in the U.S.:
- In the Netherlands children only wear scary outfits, not things like ‘superman’ or ‘Elsa’. These costums are worn during ‘Carnaval’.
- In the U.S. stores are packed with Halloween stuff, in the Netherlands this is way less.
- In the U.S. Halloween is also celebrated at school, with room parties, parades and crafts.
- In the Netherlands it is usually celebrated only at a club (such as scouts) or in the neighborhood.
- In the U.S. more people decorate their houses and they do that more extensive as well.
- In the U.S. there are a lot of Haunted Houses, while in the Netherlands there are only a few Haunted Houses.
- In the U.S. groups of friends also gather to celebrate Halloween, carve pumpkins and play games. I have never seen this happen in the Netherlands.
- During Trick or Treating in the U.S. a saw a lot of fathers drinking beer, while walking around with their children or while handing out candy to children. I have no clue if this is something that only happens in our neighborhood or if this is something that happens every where in America. I did find this very disturbing!
Halloween to kids is about dressing up, going to doors and get candy and I think that is universal.
Everybody can celebrate Halloween in the way they like best, I just wanted to say to YOU: ‘Have fun!’
And if you would like to know more about witches, pumpkins or commercial Halloween, see the following videos:
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