Halloween in Amsterdam

Trip Start Apr 15, 2003
Trip End Sep 01, 2011

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Flag of Netherlands  ,
Monday, November 3, 2003

Hi everybody!
This is one of those travel-pods where the pictures really do tell the story.

The Dutch do not celebrate Halloween and we had not yet had a housewarming party, so we decided to throw a Halloween party. It was a huge success! We were not sure what sort of costumes people would come in and leading up to the party there seemed to be a good deal of stress surrounding this from the Dutch. But, they did wonderfully! The makeup was amazing and the outfits simply gorgeous. We were so impressed!

Our landlord, Johan, the sculptor, carved our pumpkin for us - which we put at the base of the stairs in the entrance hallway. Truly a work of art! The Dutch probably think that all jack-o-lanterns look this good, but this was truly special.

We decorated the house with cobwebs, bats, a giant spider hanging from the ceiling, and other "scary" stuff. It was all quite a hit! (Thanks to Melanie's sister, Anne, for the decorating lead).

A few other interesting tidbits that reflect differences between Dutch and American cultures:

Many people brought gifts! Sometimes a bottle of wine, but more creative things as well - a calendar with pictures of Dutch tiles, a pumpkin "pie" (really a cake, but they called it a pie - it was delicious no matter what it's called), a bowl of Halloween treats (which must have been very hard to find since there isn't really Halloween here), a Delft stroopwaffle holder, and other things. The children next door (ages 2 and 4) decorated a pumpkin for us by putting leaves and dried flowers into holes that somebody had drilled into the top. It was such a nice surprise and very thoughtful.

People didn't really eat much. We were busy giving apartment tours and getting drinks and forgot that we were also supposed to push the food. There were bowls of chips, candy, cheese and crackers, etc., all over the house, but it was barely touched. It was only after the party that we realized that the Dutch think it is rude to help themselves and must be asked to try the food. They must have thought "What's all this food for if they don't offer it?" We'll do better next year.

They drink lots of soda and orange juice. Chris didn't believe Melanie when she told him we had PLENTY of beer but probably not nearly enough orange juice. But the Dutch, in general, drink very responsibly and often will have only 1 beer and then switch to soda or oj - especially if they are driving. We heard of at least 2 people who were stopped at roadblocks and given breathalyzers, so it is probably a good thing that they had not drunk much.

Nobody used the coasters that were all over the place. We've collected coasters from the different breweries that we've visited and we put them everywhere in hopes of protecting the furniture. However, everybody put their bottle/can/glass right next to the coasters instead of on them. We don't really know why this is since coasters are used in bars here. Maybe they thought it was part of a collection and didn't want to ruin the coasters?

There are no candy corns here. Melanie had brought back bags of candy corns from Chicago and had put bowls of them all over the apartment. Stephen, another American at the party, told us that there was apparently a great deal of debate over whether they were edible or for decoration. Finally, one brave soul tried one candy corn, gave the nod, and the others tried one as well. Once it was confirmed that they were edible, these were a hit as well.

Enjoy the pictures (see gallery) - you'll be really impressed with the level of detail that went into the costuming. We're definitely planning to do this again next year!

-- Melanie and Chris
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