It’s October, and thousands of US stores have been stocking up on costumes and candy for weeks, in anticipation for Halloween. Kids and adults alike are poring over Halloween party outfits, searching for the perfect one to impress their friends and classmates.
On October 31st, millions of kids in the US, Canada, Europe, and a few other countries will grab their buckets and bags and head out into their neighborhoods dressed as witches, ghosts, and the occasional Disney characters. They’ll get oodles of candy and treats, which they’ll gorge themselves on while their parents stand by, cringing at the thought of trying to get their kids to sleep after consuming so much sugar.
Halloween in the Caribbean?
Halloween is a big part of European and North American tradition– but what about the Caribbean? Do the tropical islands celebrate the spooky holiday too?
For the most part, the answer is no. And this makes perfect sense, considering the fact that October 31st is commonly associated with certain fall staples that are practically non-existent in the Caribbean, like carved pumpkins and warty gourds. There are no dramatic changes in weather from one season to the other, such as changing leaves and colder temperatures. In the Caribbean isles, the climate stays nearly the same year round.
Furthermore, many Caribbean countries are overwhelmingly Catholic or Christian. Many adherents to these religious groups choose not to celebrate Halloween. Some see the holiday as celebration of death and devils, not as a harmless party for kids.
Another reason why there aren’t many celebrators of Halloween in the Caribbean is because most Caribbean countries do not adhere to American traditions. Trick-or-treating is a normal part of American culture, but there are only a handful of US countries and territories in the Caribbean. Most Caribbean countries follow British, Dutch, Spanish, French, African, and indigenous islander traditions.
A foreign concept
In fact, even those who move from the Caribbean to the United States find it difficult to accept Halloween traditions. Some simply ignore it, while others put a candy bowl on the doorstep in case trick-or-treaters stop by. Parents who want to help their kids adapt to American culture dress them up in costume and take them door to door. Arthur Edgar, a dad of four from Jamaica, told the South Florida Sun Sentinel that he had never even heard of Halloween when he moved to the US from Jamaica.
“This was a completely unknown event,” he said. “It’s foreign to our thinking. I guess if I had celebrated it as a child, it would not be so strange.”
For Claude Louissaint, a Haitian living in Lauderhill, October 31st is just like any other day. “Many of us can’t identify with Halloween, so we ignore it,” he said. “It’s somewhat irrelevant. It has no tradition for us. You may find parents who are second-generation Haitian-Americans whose children participate, but older Haitians would not.”
Halloween parties and attractions in the Caribbean
However, Halloween celebrations are peeping up in certain Caribbean countries. For example, many resorts host Halloween celebrations for guests, inviting them to dress in costume and participate in party games. These hotels cater to their North American and European guests by putting up spooky decorations and staging fun games and events for both adults and kids. Providenciales in Turks and Caicos is particularly well known for Halloween extravaganzas.
Puerto Rico, as a US territory, celebrates many of the same holidays as the mainland does. There’s Full Moon Mansion, a haunted house attraction in Plaza las Americas (the Caribbean’s largest mall). Suitable for both children and adults, the mansion includes spooky mini golf and a 13 Horror Doors attraction. In addition, Paranormal Nights in Anasco and Soul Screams in Ponce are two haunted houses that are bound to give you the chills, despite the island’s warm climate.
Getting spooky for Halloween
You don’t necessarily have to attend a Halloween party or go trick-or-treating to get in a spooky mood for All Hallow’s Eve. Caribbean culture is full of chilling tales with creepy characters that make even the scariest Halloween costumes look like lovable creatures from children’s books.
In fact, you can actually visit some rather spooky sites while traveling the Caribbean where truly scary events have taken place. Here are just a handful of them:
- The moving coffins of Chase vault in Barbados. In the town of Oistins, Barbados, there’s a mysterious empty vault in a cemetery next to Christ Church Parish Church. Over the years, family members who added coffins to the vault noticed that the coffins inside had seemingly been tossed around and moved from their original positions.
- Rose Hall, the home of the White Witch. According to tradition, Annie Palmer was a voodoo-practicing witch who murdered her three husbands and tortured her slaves, until one of them killed her for revenge. Rose Hall itself is a a stately Georgian mansion near Montego Bay, Jamaica. Built in the 1770s, it is open today as a museum, and often hosts spine-chilling nighttime tours.
- Eden Brown Estate ruins in Nevis. Dubbed the most haunted site in Nevis, it’s been said that the ghost of a heartbroken fiancee roams these ruins late at night. Built around 1740, the estate was supposed to be the site of a wedding in 1822. However, the groom and best man killed each other in a duel before the wedding, leaving the bride in tears. Devastated, the girl became a recluse and eventually died alone. Visitors have said that you can still hear her ghost wailing in the ruins at night.
Visiting the Caribbean in the fall
If you’re worried about rain showers, keep in mind that Caribbean showers blow out just as fast as they blow in, so there will be plenty of sunny weather to enjoy.
Main image credit: belaireterrace.com
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