Halloween in the Bay (2015)

Halloween is celebrated in America on 31 October each year. It tends to kick off the winter holidays, and is celebrated by kids and adults alike. Traditionally, Halloween is preceded by a trip to the supermarket, or pumpkin patch, to pick out a pumpkin to be carved shortly before the holiday. If you are planning on dressing up in a costume, it’s also good to plan ahead. Thift stores can be a great resource for finding gently used costumes, or unique items to make your own costume.Halloween Parties, Haunted Houses, Carnivals, and Parades are other popular activities, and then of course Trick or Treating.

Trick or treating tends to be a particularly American activity, where children (ages 0-12 usually) will get dressed in some kind of costume, and walk through their neighborhoods, accompanied by parents of course, knocking on doors. They say “trick or treat” when someone answers, commonly offering a bowl of candy. Kids are asked to take only one piece each.

HINTS: If you would like to participate in this tradition, by offering candy to ‘trick or treaters’ follow these simple guidelines:

  1. Carve a pumpkin and set it out on your front porch, with a lit candle inside  and leave your front porch light on – this lets the kids know that your house is ‘open for business’
  2. Only offer candy which is individually wrapped, easy to find at any supermarket
  3. This activity typically takes place from about 6-9pm on 31 October, but check with your neighbors. Some neighborhoods will arrange trick or treating for the Saturday night before Halloween
  4. It’s more fun if you get dressed up too…
  5. If you run out of candy, or no longer wish to be disturbed, turn off your lights and extinguish your pumpkin. This signals that your house is now ‘closed’.
  6. TEAL Pumpkin Project – Started in 2014, is a campaign which ‘raises awareness of food allergies and promotes inclusion of all trick-or-treaters throughout the Halloween season.’  Put a TEAL pumpkin on your porch if you are offering NON-food treats, such as stickers, fake tattoos, crayons, etc.

Helloween Kids are dressing up for school

It’s also common for children to wear their costume to school on Halloween. Some schools will organize a little parade around the grounds, where parents are invited to come and take photos of their little ones, and their friends. Check with your child’s school first though, some schools have very strict rules about what types of costumes are allowed, (i.e no swords, no skimpy outfits, etc). Some schools may also ban costumes completely.

There are more Halloween events taking place in the Bay Area than we could possibly cover, however, here is a great list from NBC Bay Area which should give you a taste of a true American Halloween.


Other related articles: First Time Pumpkin Carvers

About Michelle Laker

A California native; I spent 10 years living, studying, working, (and falling in love) in the United Kingdom. I returned to the Bay Area in 2011, with my British husband in tow. I am re-adjusting to life in the bay, feeling more like an expat than a local. I have spent my career working with international student & families. I love learning about other cultures, languages, and traditions. My desire to welcome newcomers, and help you make the most of your new life in the Bay Area comes from the unforgettable memories (and mistakes) I made during my time in the United Kingdom. If you've just arrived, and don't know where to start, email me (michelle-at-lifeinthebay.org). I am happy to help!

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *