We were both very excited to experience our first Halloween where it all started. On Samhain, as it is also called in Ireland, evil spirits may pass over into our world. Spooky masks and bonfires are meant to scare the demons away. In today’s Dublin this custom is practised with fireworks and a spectacular Samhain parade through the centre.
Halloween (Samhain) Parade
It was fascinating to witness these Halloween traditions since Halloween is not a popular celebration in Barbados nor Austria. Except for a few parties allowing folks to dress up and drink, as well as a scattering of decorated houses and shops, the celebration is very low-key.
Horror Stories in the Caribbean
But Barbados does know how to scare you senseless with local folklore. Many of the Caribbean countries, including Barbados, have similar folklore stories. This can be attributed to the African origins of most folklore.
My favourite tale growing up was that of the Soucouyant. A tale told by my Trinidadian mother about an old witch who can remove her skin. She puts it in a mortar by night so she can hunt unsuspecting victims and suck their blood. To defeat her, one would sneak into her house, find the mortar with her wrinkled skin and douse it in pepper. My favourite part was always the description of the Soucouyant’s demise: “my skin its burning!”
Many other horror myths are inspired by Caribbean and African folklore. Usually passed down by oral tradition in communities, these stories mix language, culture and history. Luckily, more of our stories are coming to life on screen. One digital interpretation I can’t wait for is Le Loupgarou. It takes places during the early 1900s riots featuring Bajan/Caribbean myths like Le Loupgarou, the Baccou, the Heartman and the Lajabless. Who knows, maybe there’ll even be a cameo of a Soucouyant.
Halloween may never be a huge celebration in Barbados. But I hope more creativity of showcasing mythical Caribbean folklore in interactive, art or performance form will occur.