For many assignees and their families, one of the hardest parts about being away from home is celebrating holidays differently—or not celebrating them at all. With Halloween coming up, American expats and their families may feel especially estranged from their home culture, since countries outside the US, UK and Ireland don’t find much reason to partake in traditional Halloween festivities. For parents of young children living abroad, this can be a tough blow to take - especially if children are feeling homesick and missing friends and family on top of not taking part in normal fall festivities. Luckily, there are a few things your assignees can do to still have some Halloween fun with their families when they’re living abroad.
Consult the consulate
Celebrating such an American holiday like Halloween can be difficult without other Americans. If your assignees and their families are living near an American consulate or US Embassy, suggest that they check with these organizations to see what kind of events and parties they have lined up. Local American clubs are also a great resource for finding other American families in the area to celebrate with.
Embrace local festivities
We wrote an earlier article on fall festivals from around the world, many of which coincide with Halloween. Encourage your assignee to take part in these—as well as other spooky holidays which happen around the late October season. Assignees in Mexico may be lucky enough to celebrate the Dîa de los Muertos, an annual festival honoring the dead. In the recent past, this festival—with its roots in Aztec rituals honoring the goddess Mictecacihuatl—has evolved to look more like the American Halloween, with costumes and candy playing integral roles.
Assignees in Japan have something similar to look forward to, but they need to plan ahead: the country has its own festival of the dead, Obon, and it takes place in August. While Obon doesn’t have the creepy factor of Halloween, it features games, feasts and dances sure to delight the youngest assignees.
For assignees in Russian or Arabic-speaking countries, they don’t need to stop at participating in these local festivals. Take a look at our Russian and Arabic superstitions courses, guaranteed to help assignees and their children warn others against evil spirits, converse about witches and ask about local folklore like a native.
Throw your own party
Likely there are quite a few American children who go to school with your assignee’s children. If they’re uncomfortable with going to the consulate or taking their kids out, suggest that they host their own Halloween party and invite both expat and local friends. Many people around the world know about Halloween and would relish the chance to celebrate the American way—with candy, costumes and spooky stories. They may have to order the candy corn from back home, but a traditional American party can help kids feel more at home and introduce their new friends to the holiday fun.
Let us know: How do you help your assignees keep up with home traditions when they’re away?
If you’re wondering why it’s so important for assignees to get involved with local traditions and customs—even the spookiest ones—we can help you out. Download our slideshare, How Language and Culture Learning Supports Relocation, to learn more.