Halloween in the Lowlands

Everyone tells me that the Dutch don’t really do Halloween but that’s, mostly, a misnomer. From what I can tell, the kids around here don’t know much, if anything, about it. They don’t dress up in costumes or go door-to-door in search of “Fun-Sized” Butterfingers on October 31st. The big candy-centric holiday around here is the somewhat Halloween-y St Martin’s Day on November 11th. Dutch tykes celebrate the holiday by roaming the streets with lanterns and bags on sticks, singing carols about the saint in exchange for treats.

But, in the meantime, the adults all seem to dig Halloween. The arts section of every publication in the country is currently filled with an “agenda” of all-night costume parties and horror movie marathons set for the weekend. As I type this post, a local rollerskating club is blazing through the streets of Amsterdam as part of what they’re calling “Fright Night Skate.”

While Halloween is becoming more popular with each passing year in the Netherlands, it’s hard to track down a proper carving pumpkin. Last Saturday, we headed out to a local garden center in search of a two “pompoenen.” Their selection was limited to a few dozen sad pumpkins underneath an artificial tree lined with decorations. Meanwhile, 90% of the floor space had been cleared for massive Christmas displays.

Say what you will about American retailers going ga-ga over Xmas, at least most of them wait until November 1st to break out the singing Santa robots and candy-cane lights.

While I haven’t heard of a single Halloween haunted house anywhere in the country, I did come across a rather cool German carnival ride at the 3 Oktober festival a few weeks back. I spent about ten minutes starring at this amazing monstrosity in complete awe….

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