Ukrainian in N.L. family excited to celebrate first Halloween

Anzhelika Tonka and her three-year-old son, Mark, are both excited to celebrate their first Halloween. They moved to St. John's from Kherson, Ukraine around two months ago. (Jessica Singer/CBC - image credit)
Anzhelika Tonka and her three-year-old son, Mark, are both excited to celebrate their first Halloween. They moved to St. John's from Kherson, Ukraine around two months ago. (Jessica Singer/CBC - image credit)
Jessica Singer/CBC
Jessica Singer/CBC

This will be the first time three-year-old Mark Tonka dresses up in a costume and knocks on strangers' doors asking for candy.

He's still contemplating whether to be a police officer or a skeleton. But one thing he's sure of is how to say "trick or treat."

Anzhelika Tonka and her son, Mark, moved to St. John's from the small city of Kherson, Ukraine around two months ago. This is the first time they'll be celebrating Halloween, something Tonka says isn't a big tradition in Ukraine.

WATCH: Ukrainian family in N.L. looks forward to celebrating their first Halloween

"Mark will be insanely happy just because he [never had] a chance to do trick-or-treat," Tonka said through translator Mykhailo Liashchenko, with the Association for New Canadians.

"He's also very excited about his costumes."

Learning through TV and film

In Ukraine, Tonka says nightclubs may have Halloween parties and some families celebrate the spooky day, but it's not as big of a tradition as it is in countries like Canada or the United States.

But she already knew about Halloween before moving to Newfoundland, primarily through watching television shows and movies like Hocus Pocus.

"When we were watching TV or movies, we were wondering, 'What if we had a chance to have this holiday, what kinds of [costumes] would we put on ourselves?" said Tonka.

"Of course, we didn't have a chance to participate, but we are happy that we can do it now and see all this beauty and how this holiday goes."

Tonka says she enjoys watching horror films, some of her favourites being Sinister and The Silence of the Lambs. Every morning, she says she walks through her new neighbourhood in downtown St. John's to look at the spooky decorations people have put on their houses.

But she says Halloween is more than just movies and people dressed in frightening costumes.

"I see Halloween not as a scary event, but more like a magical [event]," she said. "That's why [Halloween] is not strange, just more like a dream that's coming true."

Jessica Singer/CBC
Jessica Singer/CBC

Tonka says her son is a bit afraid of things like spooky decorations and people dressed in costumes, so they'll start their evening of trick-or-treating by knocking on the doors of their friends' homes.

When the night is done and November rolls around, Tonka, like many Canadians, will begin the countdown to Christmas.

"We're already making some preparations for [Christmas]," she said. "People donated the pine tree, so it's ready to be decorated."

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