As we approached our second Halloween in Europe, the kids quietly wondered if there would be a celebration. We scoured the internet and town tourist offices throughout Tuscany and came up with very little. We saw glimpses of decorations in stores and cafes but we were not quite sure what to expect.
Just two days before Halloween, a retro American Diner, complete with a baby blue 1950’s Chevrolet parked out front, caught our attention. It turned out they were having a Halloween party and we had our plan. If we are away from home for Halloween, we will go all American, complete with chocolate shakes and apple pie!
When we arrived, we were transported back in time. It was not just the diner but it was Halloween of our childhood. Kids were wearing white sheets with holes cut out for eyes. Black sweaters were capped with homemade witches hats, and there were a few grown up’s chasing kids around the dance floor wearing scary masks.
We saw no attempt at trick or treating anywhere. We saw very few commercial costumes. What we saw was a night filled with great food and fun and games. No one was in a hurry. Adults were drinking and eating while kids played with balloons and danced and took over the restaurant.
Halloween is like many other holidays we have experienced in Europe. The focus is more on the religious aspect of the holiday, in this case, All Saints’ Day, celebrated the day after Halloween. Sales of flowers to adorn graves of lost loved ones, far outnumber costume and candy sales. The American “Halloween” is growing in popularity due to television and movies but Carnivale is still the biggest costume party in Italy.
As I sipped my milkshake and licked my candy apple, I felt the pure joy of Halloween for the first time since I was a child myself. The excitement was palatable and effortless and new. We made the kids costumes out of things from our suitcase and we spent the rest of the day playing tricks on each other and eating treats. We felt connected to home and nostalgic for Halloween’s past. We had time to reminisce and build our appreciation of experiences gone bye. We felt comforted by the “spirit” of Halloween, past, and present.