I have already discussed Hallowe'en on this blog. It is a HUGE business here, and I happily threw myself into some aspects of it... well, the ones that involved food anyway! I even dressed up for the occasion.
When considering whether to don a costume for the 31st October, I chose a witch as an obvious option. After all, what else would one dress up as at Hallowe'en? But when answering the door to the multitude of trick-or-treaters, I found myself grinning confusedly at children dressed up as everything from princesses to Spiderman. At school the following day I asked the class what costumes they had worn the previous night... answers ranged from Scooby Doo to Jack Sparrow. Baffling to a Brit, for whom Hallowe'en is firmly linked with witches and wizards, not superheroes, royalty or cartoon dogs!
Forget hearts and flowers, good old Spidey is the perfect Valentines messenger! I even snaffled a spare card to take home for my very own loved one:
Who said romance is dead?!
Cards, it seems, were just not enough... many children also brought in gifts, most of which involved large amounts of sugar and lots of artificial colourings - guaranteed to create a sugar-rush of epic proportions in all 20 kids. I just let them get on with it!
I even received some cute Valentines candies of my own, presented to me by a fellow-teacher who must have spent hours creating a basketful of these little goodies. I thought this was hilarious!
I'm very anxious to clarify myself here - although I find this whole North-American Valentines extravaganza quite amusing (it's just so different to the British way of celebrating the day) it was a hugely enjoyable day for the children. They had been doing heart-themed work for weeks, they all wore red or pink to school on the day, and they all went home with bulging bags of cards and candy, and blood-sugar spikes that were off the charts. It seemed a rather charming way to celebrate friendships, and a great excuse for what was basically a break from 'proper work' at school. And why not? Valentines Day would barely be mentioned in your average UK school. As a concession, I have on occasion allowed my class to make Valentines cards, but always with the sneaking feeling that it was somehow a little inappropriate to encourage young children into 'romantic love' - there's plenty of time ahead for that! However, here this was not an issue, it was simply a fun way in which to tell your mates that you like them, and Spiderman and I think that's OK!