Halloween, for those who take delight in celebrating this day, is a time to revel with scary traditions, costume parties and spooky tales. And for many, early experiences related to this observance can stay on for life. Once a pagan ritual, Halloween is today a day of fun-filled celebrations. While children do the traditional ‘trick-or-treat’ rounds for candy, adults settle down with theme dinners and get-togethers.
In Oman, too, as private homely celebrations are being planned for October 31,a few citizens recall some of their early Halloween experiences in other countries.
Ale Al zadjali
I had a terrible Halloween when I was around 12. I remember seeing a red balloon following me everywhere I went. One day, I was walking down the neighbourhood and this scary clown popped up and stared at me and just stood there saying, “Ale, you’ll float, too. You’ll float, too. You’ll float too.” And I remember running away from him…only for him to come back when I was 25! What I remember the most from the story is that this is a poorly paraphrased version of the real storyline. Happy Halloween!
However, when I was once asked to talk about the scariest time of my life, the only thing I could really think about was my Grade 12 exams! They’re a pivotal moment of your life and everything is about to change and, if that wasn’t enough pressure, I chose Physics and Biology and somehow had to pass both. But truly, I was mostly upset because I had to miss out on a Madonna concert in Abu Dhabi because it was on the eve of one of the exams.
Really, it was a scary time…spookier than sitting through the terrible 2019 version of The Lion King. That being said, good luck to all of this year’s Grade 12 students and Happy Halloween!
Halloween has always been an exciting time of the year when we can take a break from normal life. One Halloween I was taking my dog for a bed time walk in the small village we lived in, in Germany. We walked past the small cemetery like we normally did. But on this night I could see small lights dancing among the headstones. I couldn’t believe my eyes. I wanted to run but also figure out what it was at the same time. My dog saw it too, and the hair on her neck was standing. We worked up all our nerves to get closer and worked our way left and right to see through the headstone. Then it happened! I saw small candles in front a few of the headstones. This was the day I discovered ‘All Saints Day’ – October 31 – the day Europeans pay respect to family members that have passed by placing flowers or candles at their tombstones. I wish it had been in the handbook. My favourite Halloween costumes are either scary or nostalgic.
Qais al Hajri
As kids we only knew about Halloween from movies and cartoons, but had never experienced it in real life. I had the chance to experience a Halloween event while I was studying abroad in the US in 2007. It was funny day. We had to go shopping for costumes, candies and Halloween decorations for ‘trick-or-treat’ where all kids in the neighbourhood wore costumes and visited each house asking for treats, which are candies – a custom similar to Qaranqasho in Oman.
A funny story happened that night when I dressed up like ‘The Joker’ and went to M Street as everyone was out there to celebrate the event. That costume attracted a lot of attention from the crowd and many lined up to take selfies with me. Usually jokers are short, but people were happy to see a tall joker. And, best of all, my original smile was mistaken for one painted with make-up. And, when some found out that I was an Arab student, I received even more attention and encouragement.
I remember an old lady telling me there, “You are the most handsome joker I have ever seen!” It really lifted my spirits and I felt like a star.
I loved Halloween gatherings and events back when I was a student in the US. I made sure I had buckets of candies/chocolates and everything with sugar to give the little kids who would knock on my door, and keep them hyped on sugar.
After that, we always went hopping from one ‘haunted house’ to another.
Haunted houses were so much fun – some were pretty scary, I must admit. But, the best part was, you often knew what was coming and would scream even louder to scare people around you.
I remember, one haunted mansion had many things going on. Mainly, the way people would pop out all of a sudden with their creative masks, or all of a sudden something would touch your feet…that felt real creepy.
I’d be lying if I said I didn’t scream… for that was the only way to release your fear!
In Oman, we don’t have many activities for this festival. But, surely it is an event for all – adults and kids – to enjoy in a unique way with scary revelry.
Author, Peak Performance specialist
When I was growing up, Halloween wasn’t such a big deal for me, my family and my neighbourhood in Oman. The reality is, I didn’t even know I was missing it too much – you see, while I was growing up there wasn’t much exposure to external entertainment!
I grew up in an age just before Internet – where the only choice in television was Oman TV and the local VHS store. Cartoons like Captain Majid didn’t have concepts like Halloween! So although I knew about it, the exposure was way less than what it should have been. So my first real exposure to dressing up for Halloween was during my university days in the UK – where it wasn’t just little kids dressing up and going around for ‘trick-or-treating’. It was about all university students dressing up and celebrating together.
Now that I have children myself – I go around for ‘trick-or-treat’ with them – and when they are not looking – I may eat a couple of their sweets. That’s not stealing… I call it preventing my kids having bad teeth… It’s good parenting!
Expert consultant on traffic issues
Living at an altitude tends to give you very vivid dreams – something to do with the reduced blood supply to the brain, I’m told.
So, living in the French Alps, before moving to Oman, meant plenty of dreams every night. One particularly frightening dream was of lying in bed and hearing a distant rumble, which became louder and louder, until snow burst into the room through each window.
Everything would then go black and become still… and then the dream would end. There have been no monsters in this story, but it has been pretty frightening nevertheless.