“Is Halloween celebrated in the Caribbean?” is one of the questions our concierge gets asked a lot at this time of year. The answer? “It’s complicated.”
Halloween itself is generally not observed in Caribbean culture, which can be quite religious. More than 90 per cent of people in the Turks and Caicos identify as Christian, compared to the more secular United States. For this reason, and also because Turks and Caicos is a British Overseas Territory, with many British rather than American traditions, Halloween is not as much a part of the culture as on the mainland.
What Does Halloween Come From?
Halloween’s origins date back 2,000 years to the ancient Celtic festival of Samhain. The Celts celebrated their new year on November 1, the end of summer and the fall harvest and the beginning of the dark, cold winter. On the night of October 31 it was believed that the ghosts of the dead returned to earth.
To commemorate the event, Druids built huge sacred bonfires, and the Celts wore costumes, typically consisting of animal heads and skins.
The Roman Empire would eventually conquer the majority of Celtic territory, and two festivals of Roman origin were combined with the traditional Celtic Samhain celebration—the first was a day in late October when the Romans traditionally commemorated the passing of the dead. Later on the Roman Catholic Church would observe All Martyr’s Day on November 1st.
Celebrating Halloween With Your Kids in Turks and Caicos
Having been secularized, Halloween has become one of the most popular festivals in the world. Halloween is now celebrated in Turks and Caicos each year, making a late-October or early-November holiday in Turks and Caicos great for families.
Different resorts host Halloween celebrations each year, and events for families are typically held in and around the Bight neighborhood, just off central Grace Bay Beach. In past years a Halloween party was held at Provo Elementary School, but each year it often depends on the resort to organized events, so be sure to check TripAdvisor for up-to-date information.
While there is no connection to Halloween or All Hallow’s Eve, there is another celebration on Providenciales that features, costumes, food and treats for children.
Maskanoo is an annual event in the Turks and Caicos and is held “Boxing Day”, the day after Christmas (a holiday in Commonwealth countries like TCI).
Maskanoo has its roots in the ‘Masses’, a masquerade tradition that fuses traditional African culture with costumed balls held in the colonial era. On Provo, Maskanoo originated with enslaved people brought by the Bermudian salt rakers to work the salt ponds of Salt Cay, and South Caicos two hundred years ago.
4 Fun Offbeat Family Activities for Halloween
No matter where in the world you are, here are some fun Halloween activities to do with your kids:
1. Go “Booing”
“Booing” is a popular new Halloween tradition that involves secretly dropping off a homemade goodie on a friend or neighbor’s doorstep. The catch? Your gift should also include a note or poem instructing your friend or neighbor to do the same. For children, ringing the doorbell and running away without getting caught is almost as much fun as trying to figure out who “booed” you.
2. Tell scary stories by candlelight.
In this age of iPads and Alexa speakers, reading by candlelight will be a special experience for your children, So, for the week before Halloween, tell spooky stories at bedtime. Light several candles to make it extra spooky and at the end of storytime let each kid blow one out.
3. Have a Halloween fashion show
For an excellent rainy-day activity in October, just before Halloween, make some cards with costume ideas (a policeman, a chef, a fitness instructor, etc.), have your kids pick an idea from a hat. Then, make them pull together a costume to match that idea.
After that, have them walk the “scaredy-catwalk” to show off.
4. Take a family vacation
Another tradition you could start for your family would be a nice vacation. Most families take their vacations during the summer and winter break from school. By scheduling your vacation near Halloween, you will avoid most of the travel problems that are associated with peak vacation times and costs. May we suggest the Turks and Caicos?
What do you like to do when visiting the Turks and Caicos?
Have you celebrated Halloween with your kids on Provo? Let us know in the comments below! Your insights and suggestions will help other visitors plan the perfect Caribbean vacation in the Turks and Caicos!