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Halloween: From spooky origins to family fun

by Natalia Moreno

The Origins of Halloween

Bonfire. PC: Pixabay

Although Halloween celebrations are very popular in The United States, its origin comes far from the American continent. History dates Halloween celebrations as a Celtic festival, Samhain, commemorated with bonfires and animal costumes on the day before their new year, which used to be the 1st of November.

This celebration marked the end of the summer and the start of the cold and dark winter, a period associated with death and agricultural difficulties. The Celts believed that on October 31st, the spirits came back to Earth and the lost souls could cause trouble; therefore the bonfires, rituals and costumes helped repel the intentions of bad ghosts.

Later on, the Christians celebrated “All Saints Day/All-Hallows Day” on the 1st of November, which was the reason why the Celtic commemoration on the 31st of October became known as “All-Hallows Eve,” and later, “Halloween”.

Halloween in the United States

Jack-o-lanterns. PC: Pixabay

The Irish and English people brought the Halloween traditions with them during the mass migrations to the United States in the 19th Century, where it became a popular holiday.

It lost its religious and ghostly nature and became a celebration to bring together the community through games, food and costumes. The famous game “trick or treat” then became a fun way of sharing food. Despite the efforts of some community leaders to remove the scary tone of Halloween, this holiday still holds mystery and superstition, especially in the United States.

Halloween in Colombia

Kids singing and asking for candy at the end of the day. Source: http://www.ruedalaprensa.com

In Colombia, many efforts have been made in the last 15 years to diminish the creepy feeling of Halloween. In fact, it is now called, “Kid’s Day.” Schools and community centres promote the celebration of this day by hosting carnivals and kid-oriented shows, such as puppet theatre and magic shows. It is very common in Colombia to see kids wearing a costume to school on the 31st of October.

Funny enough, we don’t have seasons like those in the United States or UK, so pumpkins and spiders are not common at all at this time of the year. And yet, we still use those items for decoration. At the end of the day, kids go from house to house singing something that would translate as, “trick or treat Halloween, I want candy only for me, your nose will grow if you don’t give candy to me.” It might sound aggressive, but it is not taken in a bad way at all. It might refer to the Pinocchio story, were his nose grew longer because of lying. So telling a kid you don’t have candy to share might be considered a lie. My own interpretation!

Halloween in the Netherlands

Not a Dutch tradition?

Trick or treating. PC: Pixabay

In the 9 years I’ve been living in the Netherlands, no one has come to my door asking for candy on the 31st Of October. However, when my son was born, I decided I was not going to let this day pass unnoticed. At the time, I was living in Wageningen, a very international town in the east of The Netherlands. That year, I sent my son to daycare dressed as a polar bear and although moms and leaders thought it was cute, they also thought it was a bit weird.

I had also asked around among other expats and found out there was a newly built neighbourhood where many expats lived, and many had decorated their houses for Halloween. We decided to go in the evening with our kids and sing our Spanish Halloween songs, going from door to door to ask for candy. To our delight, we were very well received, even by the Dutch families! Perhaps this might be the only neighbourhood in Wageningen where kids can get candy on the 31st of October.

… how you can celebrate Halloween, Dutch style!

However, more than asking for candy, I wanted my son to enjoy Halloween in the way kids do in Colombia, and I’m sure I’m not the only one! Therefore I have been doing my research and I am very happy to share this info with you:

Halloween shopping night

(Prinses Beatrixlaan, 2284 BK Rijswijk)
Thursday 25th October, from 18:00 – 21:00: dance performances for kids and face painting in de Bogaard Shopping Centre.

Halloween at the Delft Botanical Gardens

(Poortlandplein 6, 2628 BM Delft)
Friday 26th October, from 17:00 – 21:00: Ghost greenhouse, face painting, colouring, pumpkin carving, scary photo booth (DIY), marshmallows roasting at the bonfire, ghostly treasure hunt. You must pay for the entrance and for €2, kids get a stampcard for the various activities.

Halloween at the Stadsboerderij BuytenDelft

(Korftlaan 3a, 2616 LJ Delft)
Saturday 27th October, from 13:00 – 20:00: for kids between 3 and 6 years there are several activities throughout the day, such as pumpkin carving, decorating Halloween cupcakes, making popcorn in the fire pit, face painting, storytelling and a ghost tour through the water playground. See here for more  information about the timetable of activities and costs.

Halloween in the Wippolder

(Wippolder, 2628 GC Delft)
Saturday 27th October, from 18:00 – 20:00: this has been a big and succesful Trick or Treat walk to the houses along a planned map route. Kids and parents wearing a costume are welcome to join this fun walk. The route to follow can be found on their Facebook page.

Delft MaMa Halloween Party

(Speeltuin Geerweg, Kleine Boogerd 16, 2611 WC Delft)
Sunday 28th October, from 14:00: Hosted by Delft MaMa, there are costume contests for both the kids and the adults. There’s a Pot Luck (bring a dish!) for food, but drinks will be available at the venue. The fee is €12,50 per family,  Pay online via Tikkie. Follow the Facebook event here.

Halloween in de Trees!

(Laan van NOI 104, 2593 BX Den Haag)
Wednesday 31st October, from 13:00 – 17:00: Face painting, treasure hunt, trick or treat, surprise activities at the Zorg voor Party Feestwinkel.

Halloween in de Reinkenstraat

(Reinkenstraat, 2517 CS Den Haag)
Wednesday 31st October, from 16:00 – 18:00: This is a very cosy shopping street in the Hague.  Children are invited to go dressed with costumes to sing Trick or Treat. There will also be several children’s activities in the street, such as a spooky ghost tunnel, a candy festival and face painting.

Halloween at Duivenvoorde Castle

(Laan van Duivenvoorde 4, 2252 AK Voorschoten)
Wednesday 31st October, from 16:00 – 17:30 for kids from 4 to 8 years old; from 17:30 to 19:00 for kids from 8 to 12 years old. Activities for both age groups include walking through the ancient castle rooms, a super-scary ghost tour, short storytelling in the attic, face painting, Halloween crafts and roasting marshmallows over the campfire.

Have a spooktacular time!

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Parents’ Evenings at DULI

In See you at DULI, we met easy-going Carolina Nesi of DULI, a place where you can find international/multilingual books for children and adults, as well as workshops and courses aimed at both children and adults. Carolina has a passion for books and it shows in the book-filled interior of the small shop. The centerpiece of the shop, however, is a long table that can seat children and/or adults for courses and workshops. This piece focuses on one series of workshops for parents: the Parents’ Evenings at DULI.

Long wooden table in bookshop
PC: Carolina Nesi

Engaging topics made accessible

Sitting with Carolina over a cup of coffee, she described how she started to feel suffocated by the lack of adult stimulation in the daily grind of raising young children (sound familiar?). This was her biggest motivation in setting up Parents’ Evenings at DULI. Held in the shop after-hours, these evenings create a space for parents to participate in a discussion, usually of a philosophical nature, led by an expert in the field.

Carolina admits that English is not a strong language for her, and she was committed to ensuring the workshops would be accessible to a diverse group. To facilitate the accessibility, group sizes are limited, with an expert giving a presentation to no more than 10 people seated around the table. The presentation is interspersed with opportunities for questions and discussions. In fact, as a deaf person who normally struggles with lipreading and following conversations in a group environment, I found it easy to follow along with everyone in this format.

Starting last spring, the Parents’ Evenings covered topics ranging from happiness to internet safety and international childhood. When asked how she chose the topics, Carolina replied that she simply asked people what they were curious about. She then looked around for experts that best fit the topics. While the coordination of it all can be quite daunting at times, Carolina maintains a ‘learn-by-doing’ attitude as she plans more Parents’ Evenings in the coming months. [From the editor: there’s a sneak peek at the autumn Parents’ Evenings schedule at the end of this article!]

So, what are these Parents’ Evenings like? Last April I joined one; let’s take a look!

A first-hand look at Parents’ Evening at DULI

Three images of TV monitor and wooden table in a bookshop
PC: Ute Limacher-Riebold

“Raising a Child of the World”—held at DULI last April—was led by Dr. Ute Limacher-Riebold of Ute’s International Lounge. Ute was perfectly suited to lead this talk both personally and professionally. Her research focuses on multilingualism and international families, and she herself grew up as an expat and is raising her expat family in the Netherlands.

The description of her talk referred to “third culture kids” – children who grow up in a country/culture different from that of their parents (first defined by Ruth Hill Useem). I’d read a bit of Pollock and van Reken’s Third Culture Kids: Growing Up Among Worlds, so I was curious to see what Ute would bring to the table (no pun intended).

There were six of us in attendance, all of us representing different nationalities and language backgrounds. After starting with introductions, we learned about collective experiences of international children growing up outside their parents’ home culture.

Ute likened our international kids to plants in pots—a plant in a pot is much more mobile than a plant in the ground. However, it needs special nurturing in order to thrive. Depending where that plant-in-a-pot is located, different kinds of nurturing is needed. When transitioning to a new place, our kids also need different kinds of special nurturing to ensure that they can adjust well and thrive in the new environment.

Throughout Ute’s talk, we had opportunities to ask questions and share our own observations. Ute’s personable approach made us feel that our input was valuable to the discussion. The setting of the talk created a feeling of information-sharing rather than being lectured at by an expert. I left feeling empowered with more tools in my mama toolkit to help my daughter thrive as a multilingual and multicultural child.

Parents’ Evenings at DULI in a nutshell

Parents’ Evenings give us the opportunity to explore engaging topics in an accessible format, and allows us to bring up burning questions with an expert in the field. On top of that, it is a chance to have stimulating and eye-opening conversations with a dynamic group of people. All in all, a fabulous night out.

I look forward to seeing the new talks Carolina arranges next. On my wish list is a talk about balancing personal goals with the responsibilities of parenthood. What kinds of topics are on your wish list?

Resources

DULI Delft (www.dulidelft.nl) is located at Nieuwe Langedijk, 13, just off Markt in Delft. Check their website for opening hours, and check out this blog post introducing us to DULI.

Ute’s International Lounge – The homepage of Dr. Ute Limacher-Riebold, showcasing her work and current offerings—including, consultancy, book club meetings, and courses.

TCK World: The official home of Third Culture Kids – describes Ruth Hill Useem’s research in this area and provides some useful links for networking with other TCKs.

Third Culture Kids: Growing up among worlds, written by David C. Pollock and Ruth E. Van Reken (sends you to Amazon.de page)


From the editor:

Curious about upcoming Parents’ Evenings at DULI?

Thursday, 13 September | Elegance of Living – Introduction to Access Bars. Aimed at creating a world of consciousness and oneness, where everything exists and nothing is judged, Access Bars is a gentle hands-on technique that quiets the mind.

Thursday, 18 October | The Science of Happiness—led by Mrs. Anna Blasiak—introduces us to scientific facts about happiness; and we discuss the role of our actions and attitude on attaining happiness.

Thursday, 22 November | Book discussion of How To Talk So Kids Will Listen. And Listen So Kids Will Talk.

[Editor’s note: 22 November has been changed to 8 November.]

For more information, contact DULI. Happy discussing!

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At DULI

See you at DULI

by Natalia Moreno

Last weekend I sat down for tea with Carolina Nesi, the easy-going Brazilian woman who started up DULI. For those who haven’t discovered it already, DULI is a unique concept, and a gem for expat families in the heart of Delft. Part international bookstore and part birthday party venue, the English-language workshops — for both kids and adults — sit at the heart and soul of DULI. In this article, I share the fruits of my conversation with Carolina: what DULI is and how it was created. Read more

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GET OUT!

Get Littles Up And Out With Fun Activities Around Delft

Recently relocated to Delft and in search of something to keep your littles active? Or perhaps Lynette Croxford’s recent “How to Delft” blog has inspired you to explore what’s on offer for your primary schoolers outside the classroom. Well thankfully, Delft has a host of activities to keep most children entertained and interested, with the added benefit of helping them integrate into their new surroundings.

But where to start?

To help you coordinate your little’s free time like a native, the Delft Mama blog editing team rounded up a list of fun activities and resources that you and your children can enjoy to make their experience in Delft fun, productive and worthwhile.

So here you go, 6 ways to help your primary school kids GET OUT in Delft.

Get physical with sports

Sports can teach children important lessons in teamwork, patience, and perseverance. It keeps them physically fit as well as teaches them the importance of success through hard work and the acceptance of failure while striving to improve. There are all sorts of sports programs offered by schools and organizations in Delft. Here are just a few.

Express the artist within

Do you have a young Brando, a musical Streisand, a budding Picasso or an impressive Baryshnikov at home? Then check out Delft’s various venues that help nurture little creatives.

From art to theatre, music and dance, the VAK is a one-stop shop for most forms of artistic self-expression. But creative exploration doesn’t stop there. Delft offers a range of artistic venues and associated professionals eager to foster your young one’s inner artist.

Take it to the extreme

Extreme sport that is.

Does your little trendsetter prefer riding their skateboard or cruising around on their BMX over dealing with the structure of soccer practice or swim lessons? Then perhaps it’s time to consider a more ‘extreme sport’ for your little rebel. There seems to be an increasing attraction to the individuality and athletic self-expression that hallmarks extreme sports.  Here are just some ways kids go extreme in Delft.

Okay, these next three officially aren’t IN Delft, but they’re rather close by and worth the honorary mention.

Observe Delft’s nature & wildlife

Head outdoors for some fresh air in the local Delft woods. Delft and the surrounding area has numerous lakes, beaches, old windmills, and playgrounds. Use this wealth of outdoor space to introduce your littles to scouting, gardening or plain old outdoor fun.

If scouting camps aren’t your kid’s jam, Delft also offers a couple other interesting outdoor alternatives.

Unleash the mind

Help your littles improve their learning, thinking, analytical, strategic and decision-making abilities with frequent mental exercise.  As a university town, Delft offers quite a few options that allow children to expand their learning in fun new environments. In addition to the DOK (Delft’s libraries), here are a few options to help them further stimulate that gray matter.

Take a trip to a Museum

The Netherlands is home to a number of fantastic museums and as luck would have it, some of them can be found right here in Delft. Here’s a list of just a few.

Get started and GET OUT!

There you have it, a few fun activities and resources for keeping your primary school children  (and perhaps even you) occupied and engaged outside of the classroom.

This is by no means an exhaustive list. In fact, we’d like to make this a ‘living document’ with annual or bi-annual updates through inputs from you. So let us know in the comments if you have recommendations for other after-school activities available here in Delft.

For now, this list offers a good start with a wealth of options for your littles to GET OUT in Delft.

 

 

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