Halloween Around the World

This post is for those of you world travelers spending today immersed in a culture far from the USA. I’m sure you’re doing a great job blending in, but you might be receiving just a few more stares than usual today.

Are you the only person for miles around wearing a costume?

Are you the only person for miles around NOT wearing a costume?

Well, my friend, you could be mistaken as to whether or not your country of temporary residence celebrates Halloween.

Here are some fun facts about a few of of the world’s countries that do and do not celebrate Halloween. Some might surprise you.

US & Canada: OF COURSE

Japan: YES

Western culture is all the rage in Japan, so now Halloween is, too! And, boy, do they go all out. Costumes, trick-or-treating, parties, parades, plays … Much of the holiday’s success is due to the popularity of Disneyland Tokyo where this photo was taken.


England: NOT SO MUCH

What? All Hallow’s Eve originated in Britain. What gives?

While still observed, Halloween is largely unpopular in England. Rumor has it that Halloween has become such an outrageously festive display in the US that youth in the UK have started attempting to make more of a splash. There is now a huge security problem with “antisocial” behaviors such as egg-bombing and placing lit fireworks in the homes of people who don’t give good candy.

For theses reasons Halloween has declined in popularity in the UK.

Scotland and Ireland: YES

Celtic Halloween or Samhain sounds like a ball, but there are similar security issues in these countries. So beware!

Spain: NO

My husband and I learned during our study abroad that Halloween is not really observed in what otherwise is a total party country. On the other hand, traditional Spanish communities throw so many “carnivals” throughout the year involving costumes and candy that I doubt you’ll miss the special night very much at all. Switzerland describes a similar “festival overload.”

NOTE: In many European countries, children of British immigrants still try their hands at trick-or-treating despite the low turnout.

France: YES

Another common study abroad destination, France has opted to jump on the Halloween bandwagon—but in a much classier way than us Americans. Trick-or-treating is uncommon, as the holiday is mostly for adults who dress up to attend masquerade balls.


No, dressing as Marie Antoinette is not mandatory.

Italy: YES (finally)

Due to the proximity of the Vatican, there was a 17th-century campaign on behalf of the Catholic Church to ban Halloween and other “pagan” holidays from Italy altogether, but thanks to the influence of American pop culture in the 1990s, Trick or Treat (in Italian “Dolcetto o Scherzetto,” literally dessert or joke) is now a household phrase.

Poland & Slovakia: NO

Since All Saints Day is perceived as a very somber occasion, many refuse to join in the “fun” of Halloween.

Hispanic South America: YES

Even though the words have no meaning, children in most Hispanic countries will walk up to neighbors doors and say, “Triqui triqui,” an attempt at the English “Trick or treat.”

Mexico: NO

You’re thinking of Day of the Dead, which is arguably way cooler than Halloween. The thing about this holiday is that you can’t wear just any costume. You have to dress like this:


So in other words, you have to look totally badass.

Philippines: YES

Because of a large Catholic population, All Saints Day has long-term roots in the Philippines; however, since these islands are so far-removed from other lands colonized by the West, their traditional All Hallows Eve never morphed into Halloween. Only recently has the tradition of “souling” been replaced by trick-or-treating, and the holiday is still called All Saints Day.

Basically, the Philippines have long celebrated the “non-pagan” version of the holiday that first originated in British Christendom.

Australia: YES (reluctantly)

Another British colony, it’s not surprising that Australia has adopted Halloween traditions. What’s surprising to me is that many Australians are actually resistant to this type of celebration. The Sydney Morning Herald was quoted as saying that many families think of Halloween as that “American import, a satanic ritual, a junk food binge …”

Most people with bad feelings about the holiday, however, just think it’s “too American” and “not really one of our traditions.”

Wherever you are, a Happy Halloween to you!


Awkward and Awesome Thursday: Party Empanadas

DSCN7688 DSCN7687


  • Kristen, Neme, Josh, and I spent St. Patrick’s Day last weekend with just the four of us, some snacks, and one Guinness each. After experiencing (and in Neme’s case, growing up in) the party culture of Spain and spending last St. Patrick’s Day in Dublin, nothing we could do this year seemed incredibly exciting. What we lacked in booze we made up for in food!
  • Those savory pastries in the picture at the top of the post are bacon-date empanadas. Bacon. And date. In an empanada. Sweet and salty paradise.
  • This picture of Neme where he is obviously wiping away tears of joy because my empanadas are so beautifully delicious. Not really . . . but he was close.



  • Okay, so seriously, I completely winged the empanada recipe based on something that Kristen’s host mom Ale (who owned a bakery) had made us in Spain. I was really nervous for Neme to try them because 1) he knew how good the originals were and 2) he is a cook. He had one bite and said the only thing in his limited English that I really wanted to hear . . . “Oh yeah.” Major win!
  • Spanish cheese on baguettes with cranberries and candied nuts. To die for.
  • And they sell them at Aldis. Whaaaaat?
  • A friend offered me a puff on a cigarette one chilly night, and for a split second I was like “Thanks! Wait, what? No!”

The Art of Dating: Reviving Valentine’s Day

While there’s nothing better than the intimacy of a committed relationship, it’s no secret that monogamy can easily become . . . well, monotonous if a couple isn’t willing to pair their love with a little creativity.

Valentine’s Day is a great opportunity to reawaken some of the romance than tends to get lost in bills and housework, but believe it or not, even this annual observance of love and romance can become rote and repetitive–something that you have to do in order to keep your relationship strong. Obviously, this sense of “have to” is no good for keeping the spark alive. You want to be excited to spend time with your sweetheart, so changing up the ways in which you celebrate your love is crucial.

Here are a few outside-the-box Valentine’s Day ideas to get your creative juices flowing. Your relationship is worth it!

Cute and Quirky

1. Pay a Visit to a Pub

A chain restaurant isn’t quite special enough for this special day, but for some couples a nice dinner with expensive drinks is too formal and high-pressure. Never underestimate the power of a pub when it comes to quality classic (and sometimes not so classic–chips and gravy?) comfort food. Not only do many pubs provide great eats and casual-yet-tasty adult beverages, they also have a unique environment that is both foreign and familiar. I always find myself feeling as though I’ve been transported to the British Isles somehow without ever leaving my couch.

2. Dine In, But Away

It’s always a great idea to skip the crowds and cook a romantic meal together, but why not make your dinner in feel like a night out? I don’t just mean candles and music . . . I’m talking way out. Like, out of this country. French or Italian cooking might be the romantic go-to, but what about Thai, Greek, or Ethiopian? Transform your low-key night together into an exciting getaway.

3. May I Have This Dance?

Dance. Just do it. Go to a restaurant with live music and have a passionate twirl with your love. If you’re not feeling confident enough for that, how about postponing dinner for a salsa or waltz lesson at a dance studio? Still not convinced? Stay home with a custom-made playlist and shuffle along in the dark 🙂

Four more unique ways to enjoy Valentine’s Day after the jump!

4. Do Brunch Instead of Dinner

You’ll find yourself wondering why you never thought of this before. What’s so special about dinner, anyway? You have some kind of dinner every night, right? You probably even go out for dinner every now and then. But when, I ask, was the last time you or your honey sat down some morning to someone serving you up a plate of bagels and lox, eggs Benedict, or bananas foster pancakes? A sunlit brunch can feel more elegant and romantic than you ever imagined it would.

5. Skip the Drama . . . Unless You’re Watching It

Instead of a chick flick, why not watch something together that will make you think as well as feel a whole range of emotions? Be it a historical film or some compelling theater, a little drama always
brings Josh and I close together with truly deep conversation.

Out of the Ordinary

1. Stay in Bed All Day

I’m determined to try this some day when we have some vacation time built up (or when V-Day falls on a weekend). With how much value Josh and I place on cuddling, I can only imagine how adding takeout food and some great movies could make this the best day ever.

2. Help Out Someone Else

Sort of the opposite of lazing around in bed all day . . . volunteer together at a soup kitchen or homeless shelter to make your celebration of love really meaningful this year. An idea that I mention in 100 Cheap and Free Dates is to babysit another couple’s kids so that they can go out for a date night. What better way to try something new than to help someone else enjoy their Valentine’s Day in the process?

“Skippin’ Like a Stone” (Keuka Lake)

The houseboat roof was so small I couldn’t get my shadow out of the pic!

It never ceases to amaze me how being confined to a slightly claustrophobic floating cereal box in the middle of a body of water can make you feel more free than you’ve ever been. I just love the Finger Lakes and the time our family has spent on them over the years. I can think of nowhere better to celebrate Independence Day.

The only thing that could have made it better would have been if Josh had come with us 😦

Title is from “Independence” by The Band Perry

Some photos of mind-blowing aquatic acrobatics after the jump!!!

The Half-Submerged Pike Dive
The Cousin’s Splash Avoidance Maneuver
The Lady of Shalott
The Twisty Frog
The Happy Sea Otter
The 180 “Use Your Noodle”
I don’t know what to call this, but she’s obviously blasting fire out of her hair
The Urkel
The Cheerleader

"I Joined the Navy to See the World" (Okinawa, Japan)

Cody and his mom’s side of the family

This week’s Travel Tuesday is very special and a but odd since Josh and I are not the people doing the traveling these days. I’m sure you guessed that I’m not the one who joined the Navy, haha.

My cousin Cody, on the other hand (who I have not seen in over a year), has been on active duty for the US Navy in Okinawa, Japan. Talk about culture shock! I’m sure Europe was nothing compared to what Cody dealt with and will continue to deal with on a daily basis over in Japan. He doesn’t even really like sushi from what I remember . . .

Anyway, he is officially home with us for just over three weeks! And just in time for Independence Day!

I wrote about Cody and my other military family members in a post last Fourth of July explaining my feelings on the US military. I took the post down not because it was controversial, but because it wasn’t true to my “art and lifestyle” focus of the Nine to Phive blog. Anyway, my conclusion was that while I’ll never condone warfare, I genuinely believe it to be a necessary evil.

I am blessed beyond words that there are people in America like my cousin who can handle the pressure of carrying on their shoulders a nation of people who need protection but who so often either forget or refuse to say thank you.

Code, I know you didn’t want to go to Japan, but I’m so proud of you for doing your duty with a good attitude and making the best of this big adventure.

It’s so good to have you home.



My dad has an interesting relationship with all of my cousins

Live Well, Dress Well: Fourth Festivities

How to dress for Independence Day is probably never a big question in the minds of today’s fashionistas. Some charming but cliche combination of red, white, and blue is sure to do the trick.

But how can one really stand out fashion-wise in the same old shades of red, white, and blue? I mean, we all want to be patriotic, but we don’t all want to look like little clones of Uncle Sam. We want to be unique as well, and hopefully (I know I do) we want to be classy.As much as I love Katy Perry and her sense of style, this is not especially classy. Definitely unique, though!

Here’s an idea!

How about dressing for what you’ll be doing on this day rather than dressing for the day itself?

Here are three sample outfits based on your Fourth of July Festivities.

1. BBQ Cutie

If your plans include a nice family event or any type of get-together where you want to feel a little more feminine and put-together (or want to catch the eye of a certain someone who looks juts great in his board shorts), pairing a high-waisted skirt with nautical stripes is a great way to give off a fun-loving, flirty, and slightly more formal vibe.

Add some girly and glamorous details like a sleek watch, a flower headband, and golden glads. Best to keep the shoes flat to avoid looking a little too dressy. It is a barbecue, after all 😉

2. All Night Long

No matter how hot the day may be, you’ll wish you were layered up if you’re planning any type of late-night fireworks-watching escapade followed by partying into the early morning. For one thing, temperatures can plummet in the hours past midnight regardless of daytime highs. For another, bugs can’t bite skin that they can’t find! So cover up!

Starting with blue jeans and then adding red and white accents such as a quirky printed t-shirt and red heels (I would go with wedges since you’ll be on your feet for awhile) is the key to looking party-ready without overdoing the Independence-Day pride. These star earrings are also a subtle and sexy rockstar nod to the American flag. Instead of a hoodie or sweater, bring along a jacket that looks fierce enough to amp up your night-out look.

Pro Tip: Embrace neutral accessories to keep from looking too costumey.

3. I’m On a Boat

My family members are lake people, and we are spending Wednesday afternoon and evening on my uncle’s new houseboat!

If your Fourth looks anything like mine, there’s bound to be a lot of swimming involved, so try working a retro bathing suit into your boating-day outfit. Layering a fun pattern like polka dots (I would probably avoid stars and stripes) under a drapey tank (or crop top) and distressed shorts is an easy recipe for a fun summer holiday look.

If you’re craving a little star-spangled banner, why not just add a cool star bangle like this one? You might want to skip the earrings to avoid losing them in the water! As for shoes, they don’t call ’em boat shoes for nothing! Shy away from heels and other non-sturdy numbers if you plan on being on a boat.

P.S. If you’re more of a bikini girl, you can make that work, too. Just don’t wear a white shirt over that soon-to-be-sopping-wet swimsuit!

What are your plans for the Independence Day? I hope I’ve given you some inspiration for ways to dress for your Fourth festivities.

Playlist for a Rainy Day

Ah, April showers and their empty promises of May flowers. I’m not sure how this month goes down wherever you live, but I know that in Rochester, NY, it is often miserably cold and altogether dreary. I’m talking just downright wet. It seems that whenever it’s not raining, it’s foggy and misty. What’s a fashionista to do? Wear bulky boots everyday, or ruin good shoes in bothersome puddles? Heavy sigh.

When I originally wrote this post, I added at this point that I had managed to escape to Avila for this season’s drippy drudgery and therefore I couldn’t sympathize with you too awful much. I was not anticipating that the skies would open up and let loose rain, snow, sleet, and hail, making me only dream of the tranquility of April showers in place of this April apocalypse!

I never thought I’d say this, but I actually missed Rochester weather this past weekend.

I mean, is there anything better than a drizzly day to compel you to mix up a Chai latte, make some white-chocolate-drizzled popcorn, and curl up on the couch with your honey for a cuddly movie date? Or maybe just take a nice nap!

Last week all I felt inspired to do was write my will and Skype my family in case I didn’t live to see them again . . .

If you don’t have this time to spare, I encourage you to let the following playlist be a soundtrack to whatever drudgery you find yourself doing today. Some of these songs will try to cheer you up out of your soggy gloom, and others will merely commiserate with you, but all of them evoke at least one of the many emotions that go along with the dreaded rainy day.

  1. “Banana Pancakes” by Jack Johnson
  2. “Have You Ever Seen the Rain” by Credence Clearwater Revival
  3. “Crying” by Roy Orbison and K.D. Lang
  4. “Raindrops Keep Fallin’ On My Head” by Burt Bacharach
  5. “Friday, I’m in Love” by The Cure
  6. “Ain’t No Sunshine” by Bill Withers
  7. “November Rain” by Guns ‘N’ Roses
  8. “Roads” Portishead
  9. “It Will Rain” by Bruno Mars
  10. “Over the Rainbow” by Israel Kamakawiwo’ole
  11. “Remember When It Rained” by Josh Groban
  12. “Brighter Than Sunshine” by Aqualung
  13. “Rainy Days and Mondays” by The Carpenters
  14. “Little Girl Blue” by Janis Joplin
  15. “Rain” by Mika
  16. “Waiting for a Girl Like You” by Foreigner
  17. “Kentucky Rain” by Elvis Presley
  18. “Kiss From a Rose” by Seal
  19. “The Blues Are Still Blue” by Belle and Sebastian
  20. “Walking in Memphis” by Marc Cohn