Before our family even left the states for Kenya, I spoke with our children about how things might be different. We thought to mention holidays…American ones that would not be celebrated by Kenyans, Kenyan holidays that we had never heard of, and holidays that both cultures would celebrate but perhaps with different traditions. Well then, there is Halloween, such a dilemma. Does that even count as a holiday? It’s one of those jumbled up events that Americans throw themselves into with wild abandon. It’s also become such a dividing line in many Christian communities. Celebrating the devil or just silly fun? So how to proceed when we live in a country that has never heard the word, “Halloween”, and among Christian NGO workers who have a wide variety of cultural beliefs of their own?
How about throw a fall festival? Quite honestly, that doesn’t make a bit of sense either. We live in Africa along the equator. There are two seasons…rainy and dusty. An American style pumpkin isn’t grown in these parts. No one wants to ride a wagon through a maize field for fun…that’s what they do for work. Well who cares. When you have five children in distress because they have left behind their friends, their culture, their extended families, and (at this moment) most importantly their one-night-a-year to collect all the “free” candy that they can carry, well, a Mom’s gotta do what a Mom’s gotta do.
That’s how our compound fall festival came about. I held out as long as I could. We put it together in a day. Give my kids four cans of spray paint, a boat load of balloons, tons of cardboard to be decorated, bed sheets, scarves, string, safety pins, a theme, and watch out. Their imaginations rock. We agreed on a Bible Heroes and Villains theme. Yes, as in Heroes and Villains written about in the Bible. Let the fun begin.
We had Mary carrying baby Jesus, Samson looking like a Rastafarian, Job in his sack cloth, Queen Esther, Miriam with baby Moses, Ramses II, Israelite warriors, the list was great. I went with the villain theme and dressed as the dancing girl, Salome. She’s the one who danced so beautifully that King Herod agreed to give her whatever she wanted…and per her Mama’s orders, she wanted John the Baptist’s head. My night was complete when my neighbor arrived with a wash basin and large Kenyan knife. I laughed out loud when she told me that her husband was coming as John the Baptist. (He showed up wrapped in a goat skin…not too hard to acquire in these parts.)
So our Kenyan Fall Festival is complete. Now we charge on to Thanksgiving.
Remember the Lord in everything you do, and he will show you the right way. – Proverbs 3:6
- Tonight Heroes & Villans (inthecutsf.com)