By: Amanda Betlere

WALEKSA, Ga. – Everyone in the U.S. knows what happens at the end of October. Plastic skeletons hang from windows, tombstones get put up around mailboxes, and, most importantly, candy flows in huge volumes. But when people ask me if Halloween is crazy back home in Latvia, my answer is always no. Most people look at me like as if I hurt their feelings when they hear my response. Yet, Halloween is just different all around the world, especially in Latvia.

My first time at the Pumpkin Patch. Photo provided by Amanda Betlere

We still celebrate Halloween in Latvia, but in a more modest manner. Trick or Treating, for instance, is less popular because children are afraid of rejection. In the U.S., Trick or Treating seems to be a tradition that most people enjoy participating.

Pumpkins do not play a major role in Latvia either. An American take on Halloween is not complete without pumpkin patches and pumpkin carvings. Back home, pumpkins are nowhere to be seen except for a few people who try to imitate the American traditions.

Another noticeable difference between the countries celebrating Halloween is the parties. My first Halloween party was in the United States. The holiday doesn’t generate as much interest in Latvia.

PJ the bunny is getting ready for Halloween! Photo Credit: Amanda Betlere

Decorating houses is another popular activity that did not translate into Latvian. While Americans love their interior and exterior decorations – and even have contests for the scariest house – Halloween decorations cannot even find space on the shelfs in stores back home.

Haunted houses are a big deal when it comes to Halloween in the United States. It looks like a typical American wants to get scared during Halloween. In Latvia there are no haunted houses, and everyone is much more toned down. Many of my friends extended me an invitation since I had never been to a haunted house before, but my answer was a strict no. Growing up in Latvia, I didn’t like the idea of going just to be scared.

The United States has given me a lot of firsts in terms of Halloween. This year, I had the privilege to go to my first pumpkin patch in Alabama. I rode in a hayride and picked out my pumpkin, which I still need to carve. When I do carve my pumpkin, it will be my first time ever.

There is no such thing as celebrating Halloween the right way. If you enjoy tombstones, skeletons, and candles in pumpkins, feel free to live your haunted night in style. But maybe next year, if you want to try a Latvian Halloween, keep your doors locked to avoid a loud boo!

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