Ever since I got to Derry, I have been told again and again about Halloween night. “It’s a shame you’re missing St. Patrick’s Day,” people would say, “but at least you get Halloween!” People around here flock to the city centre for this holiday. The town puts on a parade and a firework show over the Foyle River. The bars and pubs are packed with costumed celebrators.
My Halloween celebrations actually started quite early. Tomas, my Irish friend, and his father picked up me and my two American friends at the Student Village (on-campus housing) around 4 pm. It felt a little strange walking down the street this early already dressed as Dorothy from head to toe. I’m not going to lie… I got a few strange looks. We headed over to Tomas’ house to eat dinner with his family. His mother made lasagna and served it with chips. All the food here comes with chips… even Chinese. (And when I say chips, I am of course talking about french fries.)
Followed by dinner was dessert. This dessert was extra special, because it was the first pumpkin pie Tomas had ever baked. See, a week previously, Megan, Tomas, and I got together to carve pumpkins and bake pies. Megan and I found it terribly strange that carving pumpkins and eating pumpkin pie are not really part of the Halloween tradition here. Very few Irish people I have met have ever carved a pumpkin, and many didn’t even know that it could be made into a dessert. Tomas was slightly embarrassed to be carrying around our five pumpkins in the supermarket, as he was getting some strange looks. We explained to him that carrying around a bunch of pumpkins in America only inspired more Halloween spirit in onlookers. Not only is it interesting to learn about the culture here, but it feels great to introduce others to some of our fun traditions. Here is a picture of the lovely jack-o-lanterns we made that night (mine, Megan’s, and Tomas’):
Later on Hallowe’en night (how many people in Europe spell the word), we headed into town to take part in all of the festivities. We caught a couple minutes of the Halloween parade before heading over to the banks of the Foyle River to get a good spot for the fireworks. They shot the fireworks high above the river, choreographed to a soundtrack. It was definitely a sight to see. Not only were the fireworks amazing, but the number of people who came out dressed in their Halloween best was astounding. I quite enjoyed watching as all the costumes walked by. After the events in town were over, we headed to a Halloween party held in the Students Union. The night truly was a blast. Here’s a picture of Megan, me, and Lauren in our costumes:
Fun Fact #9: Traffic lights here go from red, to yellow, to green as well as from green, to yellow, to red.
Fun Fact #10: Electrical plugs have on and off switches here. This can get quite annoying for us Americans, because we always seem to plug something in, but forget to hit the on switch… so my phone will just end up sitting there, not charging.