What’s Meant When Adults And Kids Say, ‘I Miss Halloween’

Halloween is actually a holiday that isn’t just restricted to the United States because this is a holiday that has some roots and tradition around the world. However, there is certainly an ‘American way’ to Halloween that becomes evident if/when Americans are in other countries during Halloween season. So is this what’s meant when adults and kids say, ‘I miss Halloween’?

Sometimes adults and kids say, ‘I miss Halloween’ when what they really mean is ‘I miss American Halloween.’ Though many countries have Halloween traditions, there is something distinctly American in how Halloween is celebrated in the US from trick or treating to corn mazes and scary movies.

The reason why Americans living in other countries miss Halloween is that the way Halloween is celebrated in those countries is different compared to how the US celebrates it. This means that the Americans overseas miss the way it is being celebrated and not the holiday itself.

Since we’ve traveled a lot, we’ve encountered this issue from time to time; below I’ve shared what we’ve learned on this topic.

Why do Americans miss Halloween while living overseas?

You have to understand that different cultures have their own ‘cultural’ way of celebrating different events, occasions, and holidays. Halloween may not be something that’s solely restricted to the United States, but the way the Americans celebrate it is not always the same as how other countries do.

It is easy to understand why there are Americans living overseas who may miss the traditional American style of Halloween. Though Halloween like other holidays are often celebrated outside the US, the way they’re celebrated is commonly distinctive to each culture.

Many adults enjoy dressing up for Halloween in costumes like this Gandalf from Amazon as a way to keep Halloween alive. But when/if living or visiting abroad during Halloween, Americans may find this is not the case there. Adults don’t dress up; in some places kids do, but sometimes that is not true either.

When living abroad, Americans can find celebrating the holidays like Halloween more ‘tricky’ than ‘treat.’

Halloween may sound like it’s so American because of how heavily commercialized it is in the US, but the fact of the matter is that this is a holiday that is also celebrated in other countries all over the world. For instance, many in the US go ‘all out’ and elaborately decorate their houses for Halloween. It’s rare to find this done in other countries.

For example, our daughter lived in Germany during several Halloweens. She said Halloween was celebrated but it was very low-key. Homes didn’t really decorate, adults didn’t dress up, and there weren’t even many trick-or-treaters. So how was it actually celebrated then?

Well, the little kids dressed up. They usually had little parties. And they carved pumpkins. Though some adults may adopt an ‘American’ style celebration and have/attend parties, it’s not as common. In fact, if they do, it’s often more of a ‘pumpkin festival’ to celebrate harvest time. That’s about it.

Our daughter carved Halloween pumpkins with a German friend when living in Germany in 2021.

So for some Americans living overseas, this is a missed aspect of Halloween, causing them to say ‘I miss Halloween’ even if the culture they are in celebrates it. It’s just different!

To reiterate, the reason why Americans living overseas say they miss Halloween is that the way Halloween is celebrated in those countries is so different from the way Americans celebrate it in the United States, it seems like it’s not celebrated at all!

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What’s Halloween like in other countries?

Though not common for Americans, it’s possible to travel to some European countries to experience a ‘traditional’ Halloween.

Even though Halloween is celebrated all over the world in ways that may be different compared to how the Americans do so, what you should know is that there are still places that have a distinct was of celebrating Halloween, maybe even livelier than the US way!

In the US there is certainly an American way to celebrate Halloween, from trick-or-treating to costume parties to haunted houses. Yet many other countries celebrate Halloween, too, just in different ways.

Large industrialized or modern countries often celebrate Halloween in a more commercialized way simply because it’s a good economic decision. Some Asian cultures like those of Japan and Korea celebrate Halloween similarly to the US, for instance.

Places in Australia and Great Britain also celebrate Halloween in similar ways, though due to differing climates and geography, it might be modified some.

Still, some countries do have their own way of celebrating Halloween in a manner that’s more consistent with their unique history, culture, and tradition. This is why the Americans that live in these countries tend to miss Halloween more so than their counterparts who live in countries that have been influenced by American culture.

  • Days of the Dead:

You may have already noticed this among Mexican communities living in the US. Countries that were colonized by Spain or have a Latin background celebrate Halloween as the “Day of the Dead”. What they do is that they gather in cemeteries to honor their dead family members.

‘Day of the Dead’ officially is November 2nd, but sometimes it’s called ‘Days of the Dead’ including October 31st through November 2nd, aligning with the religious customs of All Saints Day and All Souls Day in the Catholic faith (coincidentally, Spanish and Latin countries have traditionally had a high Catholic-observing population).

This is a practice that is usually followed in countries like Spain, the Philippines, Mexico, and all of the other Latin-influenced countries.

  • Obon Festival:

While it’s true that the Japanese Halloween in bigger cities often looks similar to the American celebration, Japanese in traditional smaller cities have different customs at Halloween. For example, some honor ‘Halloween’ with the Obon Festival, which is a Japanese festival to honor their ancestors, much like the ‘Days of the Dead’. During Obon, Japanese people light lanterns and then release them into rivers and the sea.

  • Zhongyuan ‘Hungry Ghost’ Festival:

In other parts of Asia (such as China, Taiwan, and Singapore) a Halloween-like festival is observed for a whole month starting in August. This celebration is called ‘Hungry Ghost Festival.’ At this time, there are parades, operas, burning incense, food for the dead, and performances related to ‘the spirits’.

The above-mentioned are merely some examples of how other countries celebrate Halloween or some version of it. While it’s certainly likely that a few people in those regions do something typical to the American Halloween, it’s just not as common.

So, because of how different Halloween is celebrated in other countries, it is easy to understand why the Americans that live in those countries ‘miss Halloween’ whether kids or adults. They may still be able to celebrate Halloween in a more centralized way if there are also other Americans there or if they live in a city that’s heavily influenced by American culture.

However, it really isn’t the same as the way the Americans celebrate Halloween back in the US.

Other Reasons Adults and Kids Say ‘I Miss Halloween’

To be clear though, it’s not just adults and kids overseas who say ‘I miss Halloween.’ Adults and kids in the US may sometimes say ‘I miss Halloween’ too. This is because they’ve abandoned the traditional practices for celebrating Halloween for one reason or another.

Adults may say ‘I miss Halloween’ because they no longer celebrate it like they did as kids. Now that they are grown, it might not be as practical to attend Halloween parties or dress up. It’s certainly not appropriate for adults to trick-or-treat.

For myself, I miss Halloween because I live in an area that’s not common for trick-or-treating. Even though I still try to celebrate by decorating and watching scary movies, it’s not the same as it was when I was a kid.

Ways Adults Can Avoid Missing Halloween:

  • Host their own Halloween party
  • Go on hay rides
  • Try out a corn maze
  • Decorate your house for trick or treaters
  • Watch childhood Halloween movies
  • Watch scary Halloween movies (the kind you couldn’t watch as a child!)
  • Have kids and celebrate vicariously through their eyes

Likewise, kids may say ‘I miss Halloween’ too, depending on certain conditions. One is that as they grow older, even though they are technically a child, they may feel like they are ‘too old’ to trick-or-treat or dress up in costumes. This may happen for a 15 year old; a 12-year-old; or even an 8-year-old child!

In addition to this, there are some places with age restrictions for trick-or-treating.

This year in my small town I noticed the ‘town Halloween celebration’ had an age restriction of 4th grade and under. This is basically limited to those age 9 or 10 and below, then.

Other reasons kids may say ‘I miss Halloween’ is because their family may have stopped celebrating. I had a student when I taught 3rd grade who’s parents became Jehovah’s Witnesses and such, almost all holiday celebrations are banned. This was confusing for her because the years before her parents’ conversion included festive celebrations for Halloween, Christmas, and other events!

Ways Kids Can Avoid Saying I Miss Halloween:

Basically the way to keep Halloween fun alive in your home and help your kids not miss Halloween is by creating special traditions in your family. Here are some ideas you can try:

  • Let them select their own costume.
  • Make Halloween treats together.
  • Go trick or treating together as a ‘family affair’
  • Decorate the house-include crafts your kids made
  • Play ‘spooky’ music
  • Watch kid-appropriate ‘Halloween movies’ like this Charlie Brown Holidays dvd from Amazon

Wrapping Up Adults And Kids Missing Halloween

So to wrap it up, adults and kids abroad may say ‘I miss Halloween’ because they are actually missing ‘American Halloween.’ This is because most countries, even if they celebrate some version of Halloween, celebrate in their distinct cultural way.

In addition to this, some adults and kids miss Halloween, even though they live in the US, because they no longer celebrate it in the traditional way. Some adults miss Halloween the way it was for them as kids and there really is no way to turn back time!

Other times, kids may miss Halloween because as they grow up, it seems inappropriate to celebrate Halloween the way they used to-though they technically may still be a child.

And finally, there are those families who used to celebrate Halloween traditionally and for one reason or another (like religious conversion) no longer do.

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Sources: Business Insider; History; Wonderopolis

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