Tuesday, October 18, 2011

The Halloween Blues (Or Should That Be "Oranges"?)

Normally, I read the latest post at Gothic Charm School with delight. Today, however, scrolling down the page only gave me a sinking feeling, as the Lady of the Manners gleefully describes how the Halloween season offers the chance to stock up on macabre housewares, skeletal jewelry, Halloween-themed clothing, craft supplies, stripy tights (which I desperately need - the last pair is wearing thin!), and various other necessities to maintain that "Every day is Halloween" spirit all year round.

And it's true - about this time last year I was running around the stores with my wallet held upside down. Bad for the budget? What budget? I was having fun!

This year is quite different, however. I'm ashamed to say that my enjoyment of Halloween is largely based on cheap, corporate cr...I mean, on the way every business in America joins in the Halloween spirit. I like walking into Wal-Mart and seeing all the terrible, cheesy, plastic costumes. I appreciate being able to order a pumpkin latte in a ghost-covered cardboard cup. I think funny Halloween t-shirts ("Witchy!" "Bats-tastic!") are a wardrobe essential.

But there are other, less consumerist joys of the season, too: mounds of little pumpkins at the grocery store; small tots dressed as princesses and pirates, two weeks before any actual trick-or-treating can take place; carved pumpkins on every doorstep; haunted houses, corn mazes, and pumpkin launchers; and, most importantly, the general air of spookiness that seems to settle in around October 1st.

That is all...not here in Korea. The only two businesses with any sort of Halloween theme are Baskin Robbins and Dunkin Donuts, and I can only save so many decorated cardboard cup holders. Pumpkins are yellow in Korea, not orange, and I haven't seen any tiny ones that our students can paint. Our students are clearly wondering why we're so Halloween-obsessed when it's so far away, and I haven't even spotted a Wolfman mask outside of the foreigner district in Seoul. Add all this up, and October in Korea is about as spooky as "My Mother the Car."

Sure, Linus and I have decorated the school within an inch of its life (we'll post pictures, I promise), have forced Halloween into every lesson since October 1st, and will have an absolutely smashing Halloween party next Friday. But there is definitely something lacking to our Korean Halloween. Would I trade my amazing job and my life here for black lipstick and plastic bat headbands? Of course not. But I have to admit, this is the first time I've had a legitimate craving for home since I got here.

Thank goodness for Mom and Dad, who sent me a care-box stuffed to the brim with glow-in-the-dark spiderwebs, Halloween stickers and tattoos, a light-up pumpkin and ghost, spiders, sparkly pumpkin garlands, and other Halloween essentials. There's no Halloween-y gloom that a cute li'l plastic pumpkin bucket can't cure.


  1. Have almost the same problem over here in Sweden. Only the kids store's have Halloween themed things to sell.

  2. We finally found a few stores selling Halloween stuff, and our bosses were very cool about ordering decorations for the school. In the end, Rebecca got her fill of cheap corporate halloween crap. :)