Image 1 of 11: Eid Al Burbara: Lebanon’s version of Halloween is saintly stuff for these party people: St Barbara, a master of disguise, eluded the Romans who persecuted her. The Lebanese, no strangers to minorities and oppression, dress their kids up on December 4th and trick-or-treat for baked goods in the spirit of St. Babs.
Image 1 of 11: Neighborhood watch! In Ramadan, Gulfi kids practice the Arab answer to trick or treat -- Gerge’an. Singing on neighbor’s doorsteps, this choir wear empty sacks for candy...But beware! Neighbors judge on the goods their kids get -- so feuds based on snickers & kit-kats may ensue -- there’s no sugar-coating this 'tit for tat' trick or treat!
Image 1 of 11: Jinn (no tonic): Halloween may have white sheeted Pagan ghosts but the Arab world has 365 days of Jinns -- and their religious roots make them even scarier. The Qur’an didn’t go into detail on these ghastly ghouls but formed from fire, the ME’s Jinns can out-fright your ghosts, vampires and slutty witches!
Image 1 of 11: Halawat El Mawlid: A popular Egyptian tradition, tasty sweets made of almonds, pistachios and sesame seeds are given out to celebrate the birth of the Prophet Mohammed (PBUH). Putting the U.S.’ candy corn and sugar-laden snacks to shame, most Arab countries also get a day off on this holiday -- a lie in and sweets? Move along, Halloween.
Image 1 of 11: Dressing for the occasion: While revelers are Halloween costume shopping for the kids, Arabs celebrate clothes-giving, and dressing fancy during Eid Al Fitr and Eid Al Adha. Two Eids, twice the clothes (for kids, anyways)! These gifted clothes can be worn year round so go further than your garish Miley Cyrus get-up. Now put your tongue away...
Image 1 of 11: Celebrity fright night: We’ve got chills -- they’re multiplying! Every day is Halloween for some Mideastern celebrities -- Sabah might take the cake for scariest star with her larger-than-life ‘costumes’, but Arab Idol judge Ahlam comes in a close second with her multiple layers of makeup. We wouldn’t want to meet them down a dark alley!
Image 1 of 11: Warning- The following image may stay with you for a while. Maybe Jordan's Diana Karazon was attempting an Amy Winehouse hairdo -- but as for the dress, we're assuming she borrowed it from one of her good friends in the previous slide! We say sack the stylists and call the fashion police. At least there's no need to play dress-up for Halloween!
Image 1 of 11: Israeli-style: Always wanted to wear that orthodox Jew gear? Look no further than the Jewish holiday of Purim! Wine and fancy dress are the mainstay of this March historical festival and the garb must be outlandish -- people often dress up as “Super Jew” or Jewish kings from a by-gone era. Just don’t cross any borders whilst in character...
Image 1 of 11: Creepy camouflage: Military clothing is a Halloween staple, but with the endless slew of coups in the Middle East, there’s no novelty in army fatigues. It takes one trip across the Palestinian border and being prodded with Israeli AK47 to get your military fix or just to read about the Syrian crisis to make you put away that camo.
Image 1 of 11: Eid door-to-door dates: Why bother lugging yourself around to the doorsteps of grumpy neighbors when you were plied with maamoul during the Eid rounds! Put your sweetie bucket away -- maamoul may not be as diabetes-dicy as its U.S. equals, but it will serve you a sugar high and eating as much you can will put you in Teta’s good books. Win win!
Image 1 of 11: Petrifying paganism: Christians in the ME will be eschewing the pagan pomp of commercial Halloween and marking the more religious roots to the date, puritan-style. No spooky skeletons here, just getting back to the All Saints basics with the Maronite Church celebrating the Sunday of the Righteous and Just in lieu of trick or treating child-play!
Halloween in the Middle East should really be a non-event. With Islam being the religious choice of all Arab countries, (not forgetting the minorities that co-exist within this official narrative), Halloween’s pagan palaver should, in theory, be rejected by Muslims. And for the most part it is -- although there are parties and events riding high on the Halloween trend train, this spooky holiday (so loved by the US and all its copycat following) just doesn’t have the same traction in the Arab world it does elsewhere.
Arabs don’t need Halloween. Why? They have dozens of alternative events that involve some of the much loved traditions of Halloween -- such as dressing up and trick or treating -- that beat the hair-raising holiday hands down!
From the Gulf’s Gerge’an take on trick or treating, the handmade sweets given out in their hundreds during the Eids, to the already petrifying Middle Eastern celebrities (looking at you, Ahlam), here’s exactly why the Arab world’s own traditions make Halloween nothing but a haunting memory.