The first Halloween that I spent in Mexico was in 1999 in a small town in the state of Nuevo León. However, at that time there was no sign whatsoever of Halloween, not even a pumpkin. Gradually, thanks to things like cheap plastic from China and aggressive marketing by Walmart, Halloween has become a big deal. I don't know if this is a good thing or a bad thing. The Catholic Church in Mexico certainly frowns on Halloween and many people point to the fact that Halloween is usurping some of their traditions but as long as children think Halloween is fun I don't think that much can be done about it. I have mixed feelings about “Trick or Treat” myself. I am hoping that trick or treat doesn't evolve into some kind of “devil night” like it was in the United States in the 1920's and 30's and up to recent times in certain places (like the city of Detroit). The practice we see today, with children dressed in costume going house to house saying "Trick or Treat", did not really come about until the mid 1940's. My father told me that after he had come back from serving in the army overseas during World War II he was surprised by some kid in a mask knocking on the door and saying “Trick or Treat!”. He said that he had never heard of that before and didn't know what to make of it. I don't know who was startled more, my father, or the poor kid when my father shouted, “Get the hell out of here!”
We had two kinds of trick or treater's last night. One kind consisted of little kids who were dressed up in cute little costumes and escorted by their mothers and fathers and timidly accepted their treat with a shyly mumbled “gracias”. Then there was another kind that consisted of unruly and aggressive adolescents without costumes who acted like jerks and jostled each other to grab for whatever they could and then left without a word of thanks. The last two Halloweens were very nice but this year it seemed like things like civility might be starting to slide. We will just have to wait and see. In the meantime we had a nice party for some of the kids in Gina's family after taking them around to friends, neighbors, and relatives to do their trick or treating. When I was a kid in the 50's Halloween was a glorious time. We started trick or treating right after school and stopped when it got dark. Then we would all gather at my great aunt Flavia's house for a party. Every Halloween I think about it and wish that I could go back. Perhaps when I go to Heaven (Si Dios quiere...if God wishes) I will go up to the pearly gates and when Saint Peter answers my knock I just might uncontrollably blurt out “Trick or Treat”.
Here in Mexico, the kids don't say “Trick or Treat”. They say “Queremos Halloween” or “We want Halloween”. Another thing about Halloween in Mexico...the ghosts don't say “Boo!”. They say “¡Buu!”. It's the same pronunciation, but the spelling is different. Speaking of spelling, I saw a little drawing that Gina's eleven year old niece Fatima Paulina (Pau) made for her mother. You can see it below. It says “Te Amo Rux” or "I love you Ma". The word “rux” is a slang word for “ruca”. The word “ruco”, or “ruca” (depending on the gender) means “old and worn out”. It is sometimes used by young people to refer to their parents just like in English some kids refer to their parents as “my old man” or “my old lady”. In this case the letter “x” on the end shows that it is meant to be a term of endearment. I didn't know that. There isn't a day that goes by that I don't learn something new...even on Halloween.
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