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Expat Woes: I Miss Halloween

29 October, 2012 12:51  Erin Erin

Happy Halloween from Princess Peach & Super Mario!

halloween costume princess peach mario least that's what I said that Halloween.

This Halloween, I don't know that I'll say "Happy Halloween" at all. One of the things about moving abroad is that some of your favorite holidays pass without much of a mention (I missed you too, 4th of July). The fact that this Halloween falls on Wednesday isn't helping anyone either.

And though there are Halloween events in Berlin, none of them has quite capture the holiday I remember. The absence of "fun" sized candy bars, trick-or-treaters, and the always missing of friends and family from home make my favorite holiday a bit hollow. As with many culture clashes when living abroad, how to handle these moments is up to you. You may:

  • Wallow in despair and self-pity, bemoaning your expat existence. (Obviously, not a great option).
  • Adapt and embrace life as a local. October 31st and November 1st holds significance in many cultures and countries. 
  • Import and reinvent the holiday to the best of your ability. 

Ah ha! Import... 

Halloween supplies BerlinThe last option is becoming much easier as the world gets smaller. This year I've been surprised to see small Halloween displays in the supermarket, proper jack o' lantern pumpkins, and Halloween rumblings even among the German set. It is hard to tell if Halloween is just now catching on in Berlin, or if I have become aware of it as I have better adapted to my surroundings.

When I first arrived in Berlin in September 2007, my husband and I had no friends and little idea how to acclimate to our adopted culture. Really. But those days seem long ago as I find ways to celebrate Halloween abroad.

dragon jack o lanternTo fulfill my Halloween dreams, I have tortured my husband with a string of horror movies for the month. He can barely go to the bathroom without checking behind the shower curtain. I've also gotten expat friends in on the action, inviting a couple of English expats over for apple cider and pumpkin carving*. I was surprised that they were unfamiliar with the non-alcoholic version of cider that made up so many fall nights in the USA. They shared stories of Guy Fawkes Night and bonfires. Let's set a doll ablaze!

This Halloween season hasn't turned out so bad after all. I got to do a little bit of all three options (wallow, adapt, and import) and leave my husband terrified in his own home. Success!

Happy Halloween from this American expat. 


*Full disclosure: Pumpkins are actually from a previous year. This year's jack o' lantern is embarrassingly basic. Turns out that it is hard to carve a pumpkin without those handy stencils and little orange saws. 

Eyeball Eggs

bloodshot egg 

  1. Boil Eggs 10 minutes
  2. Crack them slightly without taking off the shell
  3. Add vinegar & red dye. Let set 30ish min
  4. Remove from water and peel. Let your hands turn blood red from the dye. It is Halloween after all.
  5. Cut in half and remove yolk to separate bowl. Mix yolk with mayo, mustard, horseradish, paprika, jalapenos, and hot sauce. (I like mine spicy, but if you just mix mayo with yolk you'll get the same look)
  6. Tada! A perfect Halloween recipe to delight & disgust.
eyeball eggs


 To find out more about Halloween events around the world,

Halloween as an Expat


         EasyExpat on

Halloween in London [Reply]

Aaa ah those eyeball eggs are very scary ... Ok I get it with the vinegar but where did you find the red dye? I've never seen it but in hairdresser salon or hair sections in supermarket... Surely you cannot use them can you? (Or it's a Bridget Jones' story!)

Regarding Halloween on today, apparently they celebrated last weekend in London. Or at least some did as I saw several vampires, but also Donald Duck and various bears walking the Main Street while I was going to enjoy a pizza with a friend.

Cyril   31 Oct 2012, 19:42

Food dye [Reply]

We use it all the time in the States, especially for holiday food. From dyeing Easter eggs to making green sugar cookies for St. Patricks day.

I have had trouble finding it in Berlin. We accidentally bought icing trying to make this recipe. :( If anyone knows where to get it - let me know!

  erin   01 Nov 2012, 08:33

red dye [Reply]

So red dye is not something you buy from the hair dresser but in a grocery/food shop?

Cyril   01 Nov 2012, 22:04