Halloween Swiss Style | Travelling Storyteller Photographer

Swiss Halloween - who knew?

Let me just preface this by saying that when we left Canada, writing a blog about Halloween in Switzerland was one that I didn’t think was going to happen. Switzerland is known for a a lot of things. Chocolate, wine, incredible mountains, chalets, watches, parades every week…somewhere for something, dressed up cows with trees on their heads - I’ll get there promise. But Halloween…uh huh. Never the less, upon kids deciding on the net value of their new home environment, questions about the favourite holidays came up and surprisingly they were told that Halloween was indeed a thing here. Who knew?!

Any excuse to celebrate

Our village is into celebrating whatever the occasion, our tourism office rocks it! Not withstanding the fact that we personally know one of the people working in the tourism office, we are frequent visitors aiming to keep tabs on all that is exciting in our town. Every Saturday to date, their seems to have been one festival or another that has taken shape within steps of our home allowing us to indulge in our endeavour to becoming more and more Swiss. Music festivals, sporting festivals and Tony’s favourite - food festivals (gotta admit…they are ‘gourmand’ here and it is rather fabulous!), we weren’t too surprised to see that Halloween also made it onto the roster of scheduled fun times. The weekend before halloween the town was full of activities!

Chase au bonbon, masks and cortège d’halloween

Seeing so many activities put together for our town the weekend before halloween had our kids believing that this whole move thing was going to once again be ok. Holidays are a touchy thing, nostalgia waves over our expectations as to what we know and love and the new has a way of making things really awesome or go horribly awry. The pendulum could really swing either way - one never really knows.

Well this looks promising - zombie walk, haunted castle, concerts. Not bad for a place that doesn’t really do halloween..! This is gonna be great!

Well this looks promising - zombie walk, haunted castle, concerts. Not bad for a place that doesn’t really do halloween..! This is gonna be great!

If you ask the girls, the candy chase was not quite up the par - the ratio of candy to kids was not quite up to their sugar infused Canadian standards, the bake sale, however was perfect. The mask making was a ton of fun and my two black cats (because those were the last costumes that we found at H&M that fit) came away with more crafts to hang around the house, and the zombie walk - well enough to make your skin crawl and be thankful that we could watch from the balcony!

The people in Monthey take their Zombie walk VERY seriously. As it was cold and dreary we decided to watch this parade from our balcony. Thank goodness we did, because that was close enough for me! The parade evoked chills and shivers. Moaning and groaning, the group turned our once quaint cobble stone pathway into an image of the walking dead..!

The people in Monthey take their Zombie walk VERY seriously. As it was cold and dreary we decided to watch this parade from our balcony. Thank goodness we did, because that was close enough for me! The parade evoked chills and shivers. Moaning and groaning, the group turned our once quaint cobble stone pathway into an image of the walking dead..!

Halloween on a day that was grey and somewhat sinister had all the makings of scary and then some. The town of Monthey took ghouls, zombies and the associated make up very seriously. Add to that the groans and moans that you could hear from the walking dead in front of the castle and you had everything you needed to creep you right out. Not least of which the castle in front of the house was transformed into a haunted castle - and while we indulged in a halloween Disney classic, it was punctuated but the screams, chainsaws and cries of the castle attendees. eeeeeeiiiiiii!!!!!! Halloween here is SCARY!

Hmmm…yep I am out of milk…but there is NO way that I am going down there right now to get to the store thank you very much.

Hmmm…yep I am out of milk…but there is NO way that I am going down there right now to get to the store thank you very much.

the rest of the week had us hopeful

I am Camp Karin at the best of times, but Halloween is where I still need to improve my game. The kids did an amazing job of decorating with what we could find at the stores and our home had a halloween feel quickly!

As the image shows….the options were rather…limited.

who doesn’t love green fuzz stretched over everything to evoke halloween?!

who doesn’t love green fuzz stretched over everything to evoke halloween?!

If I have said it once I have said it a 100 times - crayolas on the windows are our best friends when it comes to decorating!

If I have said it once I have said it a 100 times - crayolas on the windows are our best friends when it comes to decorating!

bats and pumpkins and ghouls being added to a haunted house theme on the window - you go girl!

bats and pumpkins and ghouls being added to a haunted house theme on the window - you go girl!

and then all of a sudden halloween was here!

With all the anticipation and excitement with the lead up to halloween we figured things were going to go ok. As parents our kids would see that our traditions, albeit different, would happen here too bringing back the nostalgia of things back home.

not one to be a ghoul and the one costume that was left at H&M that also doubles as a pyjama - Black Cat = perfect!!

not one to be a ghoul and the one costume that was left at H&M that also doubles as a pyjama - Black Cat = perfect!!

kids drinking some form of halloween potion complete with lychee eyeball. eeewwww! but great Idea…I have to remember that one for next year!

kids drinking some form of halloween potion complete with lychee eyeball. eeewwww! but great Idea…I have to remember that one for next year!

we have a village here and we called out to it

On moving to Switzerland, Tony and I agreed that in order to set ourselves up for success one of the most important things was to set up a village. The night before Halloween we were fortunate enough to have several options available to us - should we attempt trick of treating around the apartment..? Hmmm…don’t know who and where and from what I could tell it could be a bit of a crap shoot if it would work. Attempting this on our own, we decided was not going to get us far. How about Swiss Vapeur Park - a miniature train station amusement park that hosts a halloween festival? The weather was iffy and it was all outside, I personally know that my black cats are rather fair weather and the weekend candy chase left us feeling a smidge defeated so we opted nope for that. The changes flew back and forth over text, WhatsApp and email and finally…our village here offered an incredible opportunity. Arriving at our dear friend’s place, their eldest daughter took our kids under her wing and in no time flat their perfect cat makeup was complete.

Nothing beats getting into the make up chair at halloween!

Nothing beats getting into the make up chair at halloween!

two black cats and an effervescent witch made the cut!

two black cats and an effervescent witch made the cut!

Time to trick or treat came quickly - and so it began…. I am beyond grateful for our friends who managed to arrange a group of us to go together and nostalgia for what my parents likely endured when they moved to Canada over 45 years ago and had no idea what this holiday was about. After we learned what you say here “Bonbon ou Sort?!” (Candy or spell!), we headed out to the first house on the list. And….no one was home. Ok…no problem, the lights were off. On to the next. Success! Door opened, kids, faces, laughs and a tangle of arms to get the proffered candy and we were off to the next home. This was going to be ok. A HUGE thank you to our host who apparently has all her community village on a group chat!

Most certainly what was most evident is that the excitement of the holiday is never lost on the little ones. Giggles, laughs, and fun door to door happened without any problem. A was smitten with her new playmates, the adults marvelled over how awesome the gruesome make up was that was done by our hosts’ eldest daughter, and doors, albeit sporadically, did open and there was candy though T was there to let me know that the Swiss are far too serious with halloween and that the candy amount was far less than she figured it should be and I congratulated myself on finding the candy hidden in the Christmas displays that was being sold 50% off.

And then the wave of nostalgia for my parents hit me. One home, about the 4th one that we knocked on, the gentleman arrived at the door not quite sure what to expect, jaw dropped, he turned on his heels - at this point I was thinking a slammed door was swiftly to follow - when he reappeared with….a box of cookies, some whole, some cracked - that tell tale sign that the cookies have been there for a while and that you never quite get to finishing…and the kids. went. nuts. Going against any halloween rule we have back home of not eating anything before a parent inspects it, when T and A looked back at me, all I could do was shrug and smile and encourage them to join the fray of arms and mouths and get a cookie before they were gone. And yes…eat it!! Back before I was born, my parents were the subjects to this exact moment in Canada. New to the country and its customs, surprised by what was happening at the door, little ghouls and goblins ready and waiting and then wanting to integrate themselves into holiday that they were not accustomed to having been transplanted to another world. I am pretty sure my mom handed out raisins and oatmeal cookies. Yup….she was that person on the block.

no candy? no problem - bring out the cookies.

no candy? no problem - bring out the cookies.

IMG_7590someone was home

Halloween is a transplanted holiday here in Switzerland. We learned that the experience of celebrating the holiday with activities, parades and drinks is what they do incredibly well here. Trick of treating is hit or miss…and takes a village to organize. There is no question that there were moments that were challenging to get through but in the end, the time together, a new experience and a story to go with it, not least of which the mcDonald’s that was dinner made the night a completely unforgettable one! There are gonna be some good stories out of this night!