Sometimes I think the Algarve is the land that time forgot and when it came to Halloween I can’t believe I was surprised by the bewildered looks of local people around the town, all confused as to why myself, friends and children were dressed up.
If you are sick of commercialism, then the Algarve has to be one of the best places in the world to come and live.
You only ever know that it is Christmas in the Algarve if you go to a supermarket because there are never really any lights or decorations and if there are they are saved until December. At Easter time there are only a few chocolate eggs to be found in the supermarkets and many people still celebrate it with a trip to the local church for mass while I would never be able to tell you when Mother’s Day is until children bring cards and dodgy looking homemade pots etc. home from school.
So it should have come as no surprise at all that when Halloween came around this year nobody, apart from the expats and some local businesses, really celebrated.
I am not the biggest fan of Halloween, mainly because of the experiences I had of Halloween in the UK being trying to avoid going out after dark to not get egged by teenagers lurking at the end of the street. Apart from the track suited teenagers with flour and eggs the only other people who seemed to enjoy this event were young girls (and some not so young) who used Halloween to dress up in dubious very short, very tight black outfits (you know the type I mean).
But I had been roped into taking out children trick or treating around the town this year after they had the idea from watching far too many American movies and thinking that is what you do here too.
It turns out that while many bars and restaurants had carved out some pumpkins or hung up some spiders webs they actually had no idea about trick or treating and the children, ready in outfits and clutching empty bags ready to be filled with sweets, were left bitterly disappointed to begin with.
The first place we went to thought they should give the children money because they had put in the effort to get dressed up, while the next one couldn’t understand what was going on and thought we had simply got the wrong time of year to celebrate carnival.
I watched as another weary parent was dragged along the street by their four year old who proclaimed “trick or treat” to a Portuguese elderly lady. When she said she had no sweets he proceeded to throw four onto her crotch area but instead of being cross the elderly lady just laughed!
Despite hardly anyone knowing what on earth was going on, after the first dozen stops the local Portuguese people were really getting into the spirit of things and were laughing and joking with the children as they accepted treats and tried to play tricks (no more flour I may add and certainly no eggs either!).
When it comes to celebrating with children the Portuguese are more than willing to play along and by the end of the trick or treating experience the children I was with both had bulging bags filled with the sweets you get with your coffee, packets of peanuts from bars and bubble gums from local shops.
It may not be anything like the US or the UK but I would think that Halloween in the Algarve has got to be one of the best places to celebrate with children!