Pumpkins and Snow


But for the num­ber of pump­kins for sale every­where, I would have for­got­ten it was Halloween.

I have this the­ory that if you didn’t cel­e­brate what­ever tra­di­tion when you were young, it’s hard to get into the mood later on in life. I have sweet mem­o­ries of Christ­mas with all my fam­ily in France and used to take that hol­i­day seri­ously. On the other side, Feng doesn’t care as much about it because he didn’t cel­e­brate it as a kid in China. How­ever he remem­bers the crazi­ness of Chi­nese New Year in China, some­thing I can’t really imagine.

Sim­i­larly, I don’t get Hal­loween. Even though some of the ear­li­est Hal­loween tra­di­tions started in Europe, we didn’t cel­e­brate it at all when I was a kid in France. It was pri­mar­ily a North Amer­i­can tra­di­tion we knew about because of the U.S. hor­ror movies. But about 15 years ago, Hal­loween saw a resur­gence in pop­u­lar­ity in France with the help of a huge mar­ket­ing cam­paign led by major Amer­i­can com­pa­nies such as McDon­alds’, Eurodis­ney and Coke.

That said, kids don’t usu­ally go trick-or-treating, espe­cially in big cities. Hal­loween is mostly cel­e­brated in bars and restau­rants, with themed par­ties and a lot of booze.

The way North Amer­i­can cel­e­brate any­thing that is worth celebrating—Christmas, Chi­nese New Year, Hal­loween, Easter, National Days etc.—both amazes me and annoys me. On one hand, I admire the way peo­ple get into the mood. They don’t do things by halves: houses are dec­o­rated, can­dies are bought in astro­nomic quan­ti­ties and themed mer­chan­dises and food are sold every­where. But I can’t help think­ing we overdo every­thing. Hal­loween mer­chan­dises are on dis­play in stores right after the back-to-school frenzy, and fir trees and happy Santa Claus replace them as soon as the pump­kins are gone. Then it will be Box­ing Day, Valen­tines’ Day, Easter… and next thing you know, it will be Christ­mas again.

On Sat­ur­day night, we got a lit­tle reminder that win­ter was on the way: the first snow storm of the year. We were out at the movies and it took us by sur­prise. We drove home slowly, con­fused and cold. Can it ally be win­ter? I keep on think­ing sum­mer is com­ing back any­time now…

The Byward Market

Pump­kins For Sale

Anar­chist Pumpkin

Happy Pump­kin

Pump­kins for Sale

Orange Pump­kins

First Snow of the Year

Empty Snowy Streets

Dri­ving Back


About Author

French woman in English Canada. World citizen, new mom, traveler, translator, writer and photographer. Looking for comrades to start a new revolution.


  1. So true Zhu, not just on Hal­loween but every­thing is over­loaded due to com­mer­cial rea­sons. Look at Valentine’s day for instant.

    I love the fes­tive mood but too much kills the joy really.

  2. @Em — Yes, proper snow :-) I know exactly what you mean, the Euro­pean def­i­n­i­tion of snow is slightly dif­fer­ent from the Canadian’s.

    @Mo — I wouldn’t mind putting on silly clothes once in a while… but no way, I’m too shy. Besides, in Ottawa, not that many adults dress up.

    @expatraveler — I first heard that it was going to be one cold win­ter, then I heard it was going to be quite warm because of El Niño but with tons of snow in Ontario. Not sure for B.C.…

    @Vagabonde — It always snow a first time in Octo­ber, it’s a reminder to get ready for the win­ter. Then the snow melts and severe snow­storms start in Decem­ber or late Novem­ber again. This is Canada!

    @Soleil — Even as a kid I didn’t like can­dies much so I don’t think I would have enjoyed it that much. But who knows… I might have devel­oped a taste for candies!

    @Cynthia — It sounds fun the way you put it. I guess I can’t really imagine.

    @Poem — How is the weather these days over there? Get­ting cold already?

    I think a lot of stores in France have theme-merchandise but peo­ple don’t buy much, not like in North America.

    @Linguist-in-Waiting — It’s good that you don’t have snow yet, enjoy it while you can!

    @Seraphine — Oh, I want to see you as a vam­pire! We never know how much can­dies to buy. Some year, we have like a hun­dred of kids and some year almost no one. It was cold this year so it wasn’t very busy.

    @khengsiong — Yes, you are right. Well, it is a Celtic tra­di­tion orig­i­nally I guess.

    @shionge — Oh, don’t even get me started on Valentine’s Day! It’s just silly IMO.

  3. I have to dis­agree with com­ments about Hallowe’en being all about mar­ket­ing. I think it is about neigh­bours being friendly and kids get­ting very very excited and hav­ing lots of fun. In gen­eral. I had a bad expe­ri­ence this year, which I described to Alexan­dra. You can read all about it about once the blog catches up with real time.…I need to post more of our let­ters each day, because it’s a bit silly that the blog is still stuck in July!

    The Christ­mas shop­ping frenzy can cer­tainly get a bit obscene at times, and I’ve always con­sci­en­tiously boy­cotted Valentine’s day. Except that when you have kids, the schools “do” each theme every year. Valentine’s cards must be pre­pared for each kid in each class. I’m nasty though — I always have made them cut out their own valen­tines from con­struc­tion paper and used the whole thing as a hand­writ­ing exer­cise. Mean Mommy. 😉

  4. First snow of the year is actu­ally a mis­nomer.
    We already had it in Jan­u­ary this year in Britain, didn’t you in Canada?

    First snow of the sea­son is much better.

    We haven’t got any snow in Lon­don yet… but cou­ple of weeks ago, it snowed in Scot­land.
    Also in some parts of Germany…

  5. Pingback: Sunday Reading #14

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