Profiles in Pay: Halloween around the world
Here’s how five Amazonians will be celebrating Halloween — or its equivalent — this year, from the U.S. and Mexico to Ireland, the Netherlands, and Romania.
In Mexico, they call it Día de Muertos, or the Day of the Dead. In the Netherlands, it’s Sint Maarten. Wherever you celebrate, whether it’s Halloween, All Hallows’ Eve, All Saints’ Day, or All Souls’ Day, there are usually some ghosts and ghouls, great costumes (or lanterns), and plenty of treats. We asked five members of our Amazon Pay team from the U.S., Mexico, Ireland, Romania, and the Netherlands to share their favorite traditions from the spookiest fall holiday.
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About: I joined Amazon Pay in December 2014 and currently work as a Senior Product Manager in the beautiful country of Luxembourg. I spend my free time dancing (I’ve recently taken up hip-hop classes again), running (I participated this year in a Halloween race in Luxembourg), long-distance cycling, and traveling.
What’s your favorite Halloween treat? I enjoy a warm butternut squash soup with roasted seeds as this is my favorite autumn dish, which I also consider a treat. Every once in a while I have a snack from the Halloween sweets I make every year for the kids who knock on our door asking “Trick or treat?” My favorite includes the Dracula teeth-shaped gummy bears. This confirms that I am originally from Transylvania.
As a child, what were your Halloween family traditions? Have you continued any of them? As a child in Transylvania, we used to celebrate “Fasching” in February in the German community in my hometown. We dressed up as Little Red Riding Hood, a princess, a sailor, and many other creative ideas and played different games or danced with my classmates — it was a blast! Another tradition we celebrated in November was the lantern festival. Together with my classmates and our teachers we walked around the city center at night, carrying our handmade lanterns and singing “Laterne, Laterne, Sonne, Mond, und Sterne” or “Ich gehe mit meiner Laterne.”
Since college, I like to dress up for Halloween too, usually in something darker or scarier. I like to paint my face or wear crazy wigs to dress up.
Do you have any unforgettable Halloween stories? The Halloween story I’ll never forget happened back in 2014. I was working late at night, and when my shift ended, I received confirmation that I would be moving to Luxembourg and accepted the offer for my first position at Amazon. Once I got out of the building, I was so overwhelmed by the news that I spooked some trick-or-treaters. I totally forgot it was Halloween and I was taken by surprise! It was so much fun and, I remember taking a picture with them to capture that memory this way.
About: Program Manager in Cork, Ireland. I enjoy traveling with friends and family, but I also really like cozy movie nights at home.
What’s your favorite Halloween movie? I particularly like watching The Addams Family around Halloween, as well as Edward Scissorhands or Beetlejuice. They’re not scary movies at all, but they instantly give me the Halloween vibe.
As a child, what were your Halloween family traditions? Have you continued any of them? I grew up in France, and in the ’90s Halloween was not super popular. I still had a couple of years of trick-or-treating as a kid. A good way to gather some sweets! But when I moved to Ireland, I saw that Halloween can be different. Irish grownups particularly love Halloween, and it’s one of the many occasions to socialize in a pub and be super creative on how you want to dress up. This is a real celebration, and now Halloween is one of my favorite holidays.
Do you have any unforgettable Halloween stories? I remember a time when I dressed up as a military soldier. I of course had to improve it a bit with some fake blood and scars on my face. I went to pick up a friend to go to town, and his young kid opened the door. He spent 10 minutes crying because he thoughts I was really injured. I hope I didn’t traumatize him. But he seems to be fine now.
About: Senior Launch Specialist at Amazon Pay based in Luxembourg (from Cancun, Mexico). I like doing sports in general, but my favorite is playing soccer and watching some games in general and especially the teams I support. I also like spending time with my friends, discovering and learning new things that catch my attention, and traveling.
What’s your favorite Day of the Dead movie? That’s a pretty good question as where I come from (Mexico), this is more a tradition that comes from many years ago. I would say Coco if I had to choose something from the recent past. It shows a bit an idea of the Day of the Dead and its purpose, involving the afterlife or what we think happens and how, once per year, your loved ones pay you a visit. Of course, you can’t forget the picture and the offerings for them.
What’s your favorite Day of the Dead activity? I would definitely go for the eating part! There are some dishes and desserts that are prepared exclusively for this season, and you generally wouldn’t be able to enjoy them unless you prepared them yourself. As an example, there is a specific type of bread called pan de muerto (bread of the dead). You won’t find it in any bakery close to your house the rest of the year. Although the name might sound scary, it is actually quite tasty. Whenever you have a chance, give it a try!
What’s the best costume you’ve ever worn for Day of the Dead? Normally, there are festivals at school during this season where you might need to represent something or someone in a skeleton way and participate in a kind of choreography or something similar. Although, maybe the best one I was able to pick myself was for my first Halloween party with Amazon — I was dressed up as the Green Arrow.
How would you spend your ideal Day of the Dead? Most likely eating all those delicious dishes that we normally have this season and sharing scary stories with my family and friends, and last but not least, ending the evening with a horror movie marathon.
About: Head of Brand and Content. I’m located in the Garden State, aka New Jersey. I love spending time with my entire family, going to the beach, and listening to all types of music. Every time I read “welcome to the team” emails, I vow to find more hobbies, which clearly, I haven’t done yet. People do the coolest things!
What’s your favorite Halloween treat? I may be one of the only people on the planet to choose this one, but I actually like candy corn. It’s colorful, it’s super sweet, and you can only get it around Halloween so they feel special.
What’s your favorite Halloween activity? I live in a small, quiet, historic town. However, on Halloween, thousands of kids of all ages flood the streets to trick or treat. My family sits on our front porch and we make the trick-or-treaters spin a “wheel of misfortune” to see what type of candy they receive. Spinners have the chance to get super-sized candy bars, or if they’re unlucky and hit the “nothing” category, they leave empty-handed. I’m such a softy, though, I usually sneak candy into their buckets as they turn to leave.
What’s the best costume you’ve ever worn for Halloween? When I was young, we didn’t buy costumes like we do for our kids today. We had to make our own, which forced us to be creative. One year my friends and I were checkers and a checkerboard. We built the costumes out of cardboard and painted our faces. It was pretty funny and probably would look ridiculous compared to the creative costumes out there today.
About: I am originally from the Netherlands. Currently I work in Luxembourg as a support delivery manager. In the summer, you can find me on my racing bike on the German/French and Luxembourgish roads. Besides that, I also love hiking together with my wife and children.
As a child, what were your Sint Maarten family traditions? The origins of Sint Maarten come from the legend of the holy Sint Maarten, who gave a part of his robe to a poor beggar. In my childhood, I went together with my parents to the Catholic church in town, where they played the legend of the holy Sint Maarten. Afterward, we went in a parade with our lanterns to a field outside the village where a big fire was ignited.
Have you continued any of those traditions? Nowadays we have the possibility to go with our children to the local fire brigade, where the children get a torch. With this torch, we walk in a parade to the town square, where a small fire is ignited. Once the fire is ignited, the children all get a bredele.