American Versus Dutch Halloween Culture

Happy Thursday book friends! As I’m writing this I’m still recovering from doing groceries. Or rather, my mom did groceries and I waited outside because I did not feel like getting into a fighting match with all the other shoppers. I really miss those gigantic grocery stores in the U.S…

Speaking of the U.S, in today’s post I’m going to compare American Halloween culture to Dutch Halloween culture. I was born on Halloween, and back in the day people here hardly knew what Halloween was. For the first few years of my life I always got Halloween birthday cards from one of my mom’s American friends, but we had no clue what Halloween even was. That is, until we moved to Arizona in 2001…

Now people celebrate Halloween more and more here, but there are still some pretty big differences!


My mom and I absolutely love to decorate of Fall and Halloween, so for that the U.S. is the place to be. Our obsession started in Arizona of course, so we were able to bring tons of decor stuffs back to the Netherlands. But then for a very long time we were about the only house I knew of that would decorate like that. Back then, we’re talking 2002-2010 here, Halloween decor wasn’t really a thing. And honestly neither was Fall decor.

Now we’re seeing more and more Halloween decor pop up in stores. And I’ve seen some houses that decorate nicely as well! Plus, I see more people carving pumpkins and putting them on their front porch, which I always think looks so cute and autumnal. I’m hoping that this trend continues, and that we won’t be weird for decorating extensively anymore!


In my opinion, a good Halloween involves a costume party. And so that’s why almost every year since I turned 17, I organized Halloween parties around my birthday. One time I even had a (fake) coffin upright as a photo prop!

I take Halloween parties very seriously, and I always start planning months in advance. But I still don’t think that Halloween parties are as big of a thing here as they are in the U.S. I’m pretty sure that some clubs organize Halloween nights, but that’s about it. In the U.S. you had so much choices. Either way, as soon as this whole COVID thing is over, I’m going to host Halloween parties again!

Trick or Treating

This for sure is hardly a thing here. I remember when I lived in Arizona, my parents wouldn’t let me go trick or treating because they wanted to go to the mall instead. Boooo, bad parents! Anyway, that year turned out to have been my only chance and I’ve been salty about that ever since. So I will admit that I, a grown ass adult, went trick or treating the first year I lived in Virginia. Considering my make up and the fact that I still look like I’m 12, I didn’t get too many weird looks. Most people were cool with it anyway.

But here in NL, trick or treating hasn’t really kicked off yet. I know my old neighborhood used to organize something akin to trick or treating. But instead of going door to door, the kids all went in a group to predetermined houses. Close enough, I guess. I wonder if trick or treating will ever become a real thing. I for one wouldn’t mind buying a lot of candy to hand out… and then eat the leftovers myself.


I guess this part also kind of falls under parties, but whatever. In the U.S. you always knew it was spooky season when random Spirit Halloween stores popped up in empty buildings. I feel like dressing up for Halloween is also more normal in the U.S. Here when I organized a Halloween party, some people dared to come in normal clothes. The whole point of a Halloween party is to dress up of course!

We do have Carnaval here, though, so it’s not like we don’t have costumes at all. And many party stores are open year round. So luckily it’s not hard to get a Halloween costume, it’s just not as common to actually wear one!

And that’s about it! I’d say that over the past years, Halloween has definitely become more popular here. But it still doesn’t compare to the U.S, and I don’t think it ever will. Of course, there will always be people that complain about “americanization” but to me there’s a simple solution to that: just don’t participate and let the rest have fun!

How is the Halloween culture where you live? Let me know!

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1 Comment

  1. November 3, 2020 / 9:38 pm

    I really enjoyed reading your comparisons of Halloween in America vs. the Netherlands.

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