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My Jewish, Canadian Halloween

pumpkin fieldsUnderneath the pirate costume, dug out of the attic, I’m in my brown snowsuit, hood, mittens and all. In the already dusky-dark late afternoon I walk with my grownup (my mother? my Zayde? my much-older brother?) through the snowy air and around the corner to a few nearby neighbors, Jews and non-Jews. I shout gleefully from each front path, “Hallow-een A-pples” at the top of my four-year-old lungs. (The chant’s irresistible combo of anapest and that assertive iamb is so compelling that I can still holler it pretty authentically even now.)

By October, evening sets in very early in Winnipeg, and what stays with me is the season’s imprint. Instead of looming ghosts and goblins, Halloween and its early dark—and the possibility of snow—plus the adventure of being out in the crisp air, felt very gentle. Growing up, not a single household I knew celebrated what’s now called “Canadian Thanksgiving” (usually the same weekend as Columbus Day in the U.S.), so Halloween is my cool-weather holiday of record.