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A Decade of Halloweens Where There is No Halloween

candyThough I have seen children roaming the streets in Spider-man costumes, Halloween is not officially celebrated in Djibouti. Pumpkins are more greenish than orange, lopsided, and sold by the slice rather than whole. People do go door to door, but they’re looking for something other than a sugar rush. Sometimes I feel like I am wearing a costume, but that is more because my fashion tastes don’t naturally incline toward the sequins and sheer, sparkly material best worn to local weddings.

One of the things I like about Halloween is that it was, for me, a holiday masquerading as nothing more, even while all the revelers masqueraded. There was no pretending that Halloween was about more than candy. It was all about candy, especially the nasty yet mysteriously delicious candy corn. There was no religious scaffolding, no hymns, no advent season, no fasting. I know that Halloween represents more than candy for some people, but speaking from my own experience … candy, candy, candy.

Christmas is profound and Easter is joyful and Thanksgiving is rich with gratitude. And that is what I need from those holidays. Halloween is sugar, and for me, who still battles a raging sweet tooth, that’s what I wanted from this holiday.

In Djibouti, where there is no Halloween, our candy high celebrations have varied from doing nothing to creating our own tour of the city in search of candy.

Here are some of the highlights.

  • Around Town 1 of 6
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    Trick-or-treating at a friend's house. I gave her bags of candy ahead of time and brought my own, we distributed to all our kids and then let them play.

  • At the US Embassy 2 of 6
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    Occasionally we went trick or treating at the US embassy depending on whether or not non-diplomatic children are invited. I've enjoyed hearing kids bombard the ambassadors with raucous ‘trick or treats' almost as much as I've enjoyed the rare American candy my kids come home with. Do I steal some? You know I do. (no photos allowed of the embassy so here is my son, in costume.)

  • At Home 3 of 6
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    Trick or treating in our own house. I gave our nanny and house helper candy and stationed them in the bedrooms. My husband and I also had candy so the kids had to visit four rooms. I know my Djiboutian friends thought we were beyond bizarre when my kids, wearing goofy clothes, knocked and asked for candy but they played along. Yup, they are that awesome.

  • Oops, Forgot 4 of 6
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    One year we were in Kenya, fresh off an emergency evacuation from Somalia. We were in shock, transition, and Halloween slipped by without a notice. Due to the non-religious, purely candy nature of the holiday, I was thrilled to not feel guilty about forgetting. Here are pumpkin slices for sale in the market.

  • In Minnesota 5 of 6
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    One year we were in Minnesota and attended multiple Halloween parties. After years of receiving between 5-10 pieces of candy, the amount our children scored while in the US was as shocking as the burn of super-sized Pixie Stix going down.

  • Candy, Candy, Candy 6 of 6
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    Happy Halloween from our Djibouti Jones family to you! Eat some candy corn on our behalf since we can't get any here.

    *image credit: Andrew Malone via Flickr

image credit: terren in virginia via flickr

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