This weekend was perfect. Perfectly scary, that is!
My fondest memories and strongest reminisences usually revolve around holidays, and more particularly, winter holidays. The stretch between the end of September and the beginning of January is definitely my favorite time of year. Everything grows a little bit darker, a little bit drearier, a little bit colder. The air is crisp (or maybe downright freezing), but homes begin to glow with the light of fires and candles that will keep them warm until the sun comes out again. Maybe it is the superstition and religion regarding this season that fascinates me so much. I love the idea that Halloween is a time when the devil comes to earth, where unholy creatures and the eternally punished come out to play. I love it even more that this holiday is followed closely by Christmas, the birth of the holiest (so say some) being ever to walk the Earth. This contrast, celebrated among an abundance of merrymaking and culinary delights, is unbearably intruiging to me.
It is then only natural that Halloween should be my favorite holiday, rivaled only by Christmas in my feelings of excitement and anticipation. And being here in Santiago where the land is rife with Celtic history and traditions (where Halloween originated so many years ago), I was not about to let this weekend pass by without a lot of festivity.
So on Friday night Stephanie, Daniela and I watched The Shining in the dark with lots of popcorn. I had never seen it before. It was scary, but not as scary as I hoped. Still, it satisfied my craving for a good horror flick, and I kept hearing that creepy voice in my head (“redrum….redrum!!!!”) for hours afterwards.
Saturday I threw a Halloween party. Santiago is surprisingly conducive to Halloween fright. All day Saturday was perfectly dark and rainy, fairly deserted, and a strong wind blew through the trees, whistling eerily in at the cracks in the windows. I woke up early and got to business, after opening the packages that both my parents sent to me. It was like Christmas, and opening the bags of exotic delights like Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups, M&Ms, and Snickers, I felt like a trick-or-treater all over again. By the time evening rolled around and I was dressed in my fairy costume, I had gone grocery shopping, cleaned the house, decorated with cobweb and streamers, made two pumpkin pies (complete with crust made from scratch), made a batch of chocolate-chip-marshmallow cookies, made apple cider from scratch (with clove-studded oranges), made jello shots and a frozen jello hand, carved two pumpkins and roasted the seeds, and set the table, lit the candles, and set up the music with special Halloween songs. The party was a HUGE success. Everyone dressed up and put real effort into their costumes. They were so excited, since Halloween isn’t huge in Europe. There was a fairy, an angel, a witch, a vampire, two babies, a water siren, a Medusa nymph, a fisherman, a cloud, and a few others. Everyone brought food and we danced and took pictures and laughed at each other’s costumes. That is, until the police broke up the party at about quarter to two. We have an old crochety neighbor who apparently thinks we make a lot of noise (even when we’re just eating dinner), and instead of respectfully knocking on the door and asking us to please quiet down (we weren’t even rowdy – it’s a very low-key group!), she decided to call the police directly. It wasn’t a big deal and they didn’t do anything, but I was angry nonetheless. So we moved the party outside. We went barhopping (in full costume) and thoroughly enjoyed the strange looks we got when we walked into bars with wings and capes and leaf crowns. When I got home early in the morning, I climbed into bed exhausted but happy and sufficiently satisfied.
Today I spent the whole day doing nothing. I woke up late, cleaned up the kitchen and the remains of last night’s raucousness, and spent the afternoon talking with my flatmates, wearing my recently-arrived favorite brown sweater, and eating leftover party snacks. It was perfect, the way Halloween should be.
(And since Monday and Tuesday are holidays in Spain, I get to do it all over again tomorrow!)