Here’s a truly scary statistic. The National Retail Federation (NRF) estimates that Americans will be spending an all-time high of $8.4 billion (€7.65b) on Halloween this year, that’s an average expenditure of $82.93 (€75.49) per person, up from $74.34 (€67) in 2015.
According to the NRF survey, consumers will shell out $3.1 billion (€2.82b) for costumes (16% dress up their pets on Halloween), $2.5 billion (€2.28b) for candy, $2.4 billion (€2.18b) for decorations while $390 million (€355m) will be spent on greeting cards.
In France, the holiday has never caught on commercially, although the French never shy away from a chance to dress up in costume or do strange things. Last year, Airbnb offered the chance to win a two-night’s stay at Halloween in the “world's largest grave”, the Paris Catacombs.
The national holiday on November 1, All Saints' Day (Toussaint), is more deeply rooted in France’s custom with the chrysanthemum, the emblematic flower of the dead. In the 7th century, the Catholic Church united with a Pagan holiday and the first of November was designated Toussaint, “to honour martyrs and the deceased faithful”. At the time, Toussaint was called Hallow (Holy or Saint) Mass, or Mass of the Saints, and October 31 was All Hallows’ Eve, which later became known as Halloween.
The tradition of Halloween arrived in the US in the 1840s during the potato famine with the Irish immigrants, who would play practical “tricks” on their neighbours, sometimes wearing a disguise. However, by the 1930s those pranks turned into vandalism and trick-or-treating equalled, as Halloween historian David Skal describes, “extortion – give us candy or we’ll trash your house”.
Stores and neighbourhood homes began offering candy (“treats) as a way to bribe hooligans to stop the “tricks” and by the end of the decade, the new ritual was under way.
While there may not be much trick-or-treating here in Monaco, there are a number of events for mini-monsters and not-so-mini to get into the Halloween spirit on the actual day of October 31, and you won’t have to reach far into your pockets.
Grubers, the Giraudi family’s newest restaurant, a burger joint at 16-18 rue Princess Caroline, hosts “Halloween for Kids” from 11 am to 3 pm, which includes free face painting, gifts and candy. Info: +377 93 30 15 30
The 6th edition of “Halloween at Parc Princesse Antoinette” is organised by the Mairie and promises a range of fun activities and a chance to win candy. Costumes welcome. Free and open to all school children in Monaco, register at the park from 2-4 pm. Tel: +377 93 15 06 02
At Monaco's Museum of Prehistoric Anthropology (56 bis boulevard du Jardin exotique), "Halloween for children" runs from 9 am to 6 pm for kids ages 6 and up. Tickets (3.80/child and €7.20/adult) include entry to the Exotic Garden and the Observatory Cave. Tel: +377 98 98 80 06
The festivities as Stars’n’Bars kick off at 6 pm Monday, with a children’s theme party involving a bouncy labyrinth, wandering robot, laser show, snake girl and candyfloss. Entry is €20 for kids (free for adults) and there’s a buffet (tickets €3-€5) although the restaurant opens at 9 pm for dinner. Get your tickets
For big kids
At La Rascasse (Quai Antoine 1er), adults won’t know whether to laugh or scream with their zombie-themed Halloween: “screaming pumpkins, prisoners facing the death penalty and zombies will make this a night that you will never forget”. Starts at 10 pm. Wear your scariest costume and win a bottle of champagne. Reservations +377 98 06 16 16
Zombie and vampire dress code is also in effect at Pacific Monte-Carlo (Metropole, 17 Avenue des Spélugues), where “a disturbing party” with live DJ music and Karaoke takes place Monday night. Finger food menu €35. Reservations: +377 93 25 20 30
The “Halloween Ball and Demolition Party” marks the official closing of the Black Legend club (L’Eto, 18 route de la Piscine), from 9:30 pm. Costumes mandatory (entry €50, includes a drink). Music by resident DJ Karl ZEN-K. Prizes and a chance to buy items from the Black Legend club. Reservations +377 93 30 09 09
Also on route de la Piscine (number 32) “Asylum Jack” Halloween clubbing at Jack Monaco. From 6 pm to 3 am with music by DJ Pete Kassidy. Dress code “Welcome to hell”. Reservations +377 97 98 34 56
Photo: Above, New Brunswick Tourism; Feature: Hanna Horwarth.
Article first published October 30, 2016. Copyright Monaco Life.