Saturday, November 01, 2008

Pippi Longstocking - Winter Wear

When October dawned, the choice of a Halloween costume turned into a hot topic in our house. C knew who she would be, but "What would Pippi wear?" became a matter of great debate.

We knew what her braids should look like (and even how to do them) and we already had a pencil picked out for her freckles. I'd spotted just the right stocking/sock combo and had decided to not worry about her shoes - hard to see in the dark, not on her feet at any party she might go to. But we still weren't sure about the main ingredient, Pippi's dress. C suggested we veer toward the ugly and the large. Her babysitter thought she should wear something whose next stop was under the sink as a cleaning cloth. I had visions of a jumper and sewn-on patchwork.

In the end we compromised. I found a denim dress, large, with cool pockets. C wore one of my big painting shirts under it, sleeves rolled up. To keep the winter out, she topped it all with an old sweater of mine (paper patched), a super spotty scarf and a very warm hat. We took lots of pictures, then we headed out for some candy collection.

Trick-or-treating in Prague? Well may you ask. There is no long-term Halloween tradition in the Czech Republic. You have to head to tourist or expat oriented stores if you're looking for Halloween decorations, and costumes come from places focused on costume balls or theater, not October 31st. But every year, it does seem to get easier to find pumpkins, and there are lots of things to do with kids, from pumpkin carving to partying at the bagel shop.

And there is one neighborhood that rolls out the candy carpet for kids. Nicknamed Little America for its suburban feel, Nebušice in Prague 6 has become a mecca for trick-or-treating children. For the last two years, we have met up with friends, woven through bands of costumed children and gone door to door with C. Next to an international school, Nebušice is a favorite spot for round the world households, and a lot of the families dress up in their native costumes to greet the kids. We've seen tiny children dressed in Korean robes, ladies in Swedish dresses, and my favorite - a British family dressed in colonial capes with a prison stock in their front yard.

I'm out of practice with the whole concept of trick-or-treating, so I am inevitably impressed by the generosity of these families as they open their doors to kids who are mostly not from their neighborhood. I appreciate the way an entire community turns a foreign holiday into a celebration that feels like home, and gives kids a sense of being a part of a big group of English speakers. That's something C usually only gets to experience when we head to the States once a year.

Pippi and J (he went as a well-bundled baby) slept on the car ride home, and we spent the drive talking about our favorite Halloween memories. I remembered the parties we had as children, the suburban trick-or-treating in middle school, the massive costume parades we went to in graduate school. We wondered how Caroline would remember her 5th Halloween as Pippi of the long stockings, the night we drove from Prague to Little America and back again.


Zhoen said...

She looks wonderful, exactly how I imagined Pippi.

marja-leena said...

Yes, and what a memorable Halloween for her in a unique neighbourhood in Prague.

Jess said...


Eleanor said...

Dear C,

I really love your Pippi Longstocking costume. In fact, when I first saw your photo I REALLY thought that you were HER.

When I was your age I lived in Israel, and the language they speak there is Hebrew. In Hebrew the word "Pippi" means "wee wee" (hehe...I when you go to the toilet....) so, guess what? The writer changed Pippi's name to Bilbi, just for Israel, know...the kids wouldn't make fun of her.

I really really wanted to be Bilbi, but my hair wasn't even long enough for braids. Never mind, now that I am all grown up I get to look at your photo and it makes me very very happy!

eurolush said...

What a beautiful post, Julia. I enjoyed hearing about your Halloween in Prague.

The Pippi costume was great! You daughter looked adorable--with her little upturned braids and ragamuffin clothes. (And, of course, her sweet smile.)

Sounds like you had a very memorable evening.

Lucy said...

I think she looks incredibly stylish! Do you know, I have never read Pippi Longstocking...

A beautiful post, and the Halloweening in Little America sounds really special.

countrypeapie said...


Karla said...

Perfect outfit. I wonder why I never went as Pippi... I certainly imitated her in every other possible way.

Great photos, anyway! And Prague Halloween sounds much better than I expected.

Anonymous said...

Great wear for winter; infact in Northern parts of Russia u need it all the time
cold weather boots