International students reflect on Canadian Halloween

Rigel Testas, Alejandra Vaca, Manuel Ireta, Ana Lucia Pavon and Laura Patino, wearing their costumes for the halloween weekend celebration this past Oct 28th, 2022. (Submitted: Rigel Testas)

For people from Canada or the United States, Halloween is a time filled with trick-or-treating, haunted houses and costumes, but this isn’t the case in other countries.

For Rigel Testas, a first-year student at St. Thomas University, celebrating Halloween in Canada meant that she could go out at night and wear a costume that she wanted without fearing for her safety.

Testas felt safe enough in Fredericton to dress up as a Playboy bunny. In her home country, Mexico, she couldn’t.

“Mexico is really dangerous to go out alone or with a provocative costume,” she said. “It was really cool not having to be stressed all the time to walk at night.”

Although Testas is away from her family and her country, she still misses traditions for Día de Muertos (Day of the Dead), which happens Nov. 2.

In a Vanier Hall lounge, Testas and other Latino students watched Disney’s Coco to celebrate the holiday. The other students were “crying their eyes out” and calling their parents.

Testas said that in Mexico, people begin to put out Mexican marigolds called Cempasúchil early on in October.

“On the Day of the Dead, those flowers are like a path [for the dead] to get home to see their families,” she said.

On the Day of the Dead, people make ofrendas with pictures of loved ones who have already passed. Although Testas’s altar was not as large as it would be in Mexico, she still made one using photos of her grandfather.

“I think it’s kind of cute having your family again with you for at least one night,” she said. “It was important for my mental health to still do it.”

Testas looks forward to next year so she can teach some people in Vanier Hall how to make a “proper altar.”

“I felt so welcomed that they actually care for that,” she said.

Naomi Lopez, a third-year student from Honduras, had her first Halloween in Canada this year.

Lopez said that in Honduras, only upper-class people celebrate Halloween by trick-or-treating. There aren’t many decorations and there is no pumpkin carving. Honduras has Halloween parties in clubs and bars, but not as many people dress up.

“You can’t just go to any neighbourhood and knock on doors because some people will just open the door and stare at you,” she said.

Lopez said she dressed up twice for Halloween, one night as a bumble bee and another night as red riding hood.

“I think it’s fun [to dress up] because we never do it. It’s also the excitement that other people show, all the compliments you get and how they guess who you are,” she said.

Lopez attended a party at a friend’s house. There were lights, a “Happy Halloween” banner and spooky little ghosts. A friend of hers dressed as the Ugly Stepsister from Shrek, and she said everyone loved the costume.

“I feel like I had a Halloween that I’ve seen in movies, because we don’t get that in our country,” Lopez said.