Saturday, October 26, 2013

Halloween - Did I Miss Something?

So the Halloween chatter is starting in our house. Last year, I must have ‘missed the memo’ stating that Halloween is now a festival to be officially embraced here in Australia so, like every other year of my life, I completely ignored the occasion without a second thought. Subsequently and to my surprise, I had two sour–faced, moping children who howled that it wasn't fair then spent the evening with their snivelling noses pressed up against the window watching the trick-or-treat ritual taking place in our street around them.

My second relevation was that the neighbours went all out. Cobwebs through their front garden, jack-o-lantern thingys, lights, spooks, costumes – they whole bit. (Special thanks to them for rubbing salt on the wounds by the way…)

So here's the quandary - what the hell do we do this year? Do we anticipate and prepare for further snivelling or do we accept our festive fate and partake in a tradition that has NEVER been genuinely celebrated in Australia?! (Clearly our local Woolworth's supermarket is keen for us to participate – their wall to wall overpriced spooky stuff is assisting the kids' anticipation in reaching fever pitch). 

If you're in Australia, what are you doing in your house or street to acknowledge (or actively ignore) Halloween this year? Is it now part of the norm and do I just need to cave in and accept? 

(Either way, if we partake, our dog Honey is DEFINITELY wearing this):


  1. It was only a couple of days ago (in London) when I was informing a friend that I was brought up in a country (Australia) that did not recognise Halloween as a holiday to celebrate. I felt quite proud, and I must say, a little smug about this. As I continued to climb the steps of my pedestal, I looked down on those poor nations that had succumbed to the commercial pressure of the multiples - Woolworths is a wonderful representative of this pressure group. How the winds can change. Rather than topple embarrassingly and with the threat of broken bones, I shall keep the revelation that Australia has turned to the dark (orange?) side between you and me. My friend will be none the wiser (until the Halloween-themed week on Neighbours, of course).

    1. Where's my LIKE button? Love this comment, Nick. It exactly represents how I feel about Halloween - I used to feel quite proud (read as smug!) of the fact that Australia hadn't bought into this strange, ghoulish ritual borne from the Gaelic and Welsh traditions. Now though, it seems we've succumbed and it simply takes a couple of kids to make you realise it's harder to ignore than you once thought! *Sigh*.

  2. I am fighting this tooth and nail. But it feels like a losing battle doesn't it? Good on you Woolworths, one aisle dedicated to Halloween while the adjacent aisle is sporting a Christmas theme. ALREADY. Does my head in. Nup. I'm digging my heels in about this one. I despise the fact that Australia is becoming a mini America is so many other ways, Halloween I just can't abide.

    Can I add my kids aren't old enough to lobby on this one yet? Talk to me in like two years, we'll probably all be dressed as the Addams Family.

    1. Love it, OSL - the idea of you al dressed as the Addams Family is TOO good.

      I too dug my heels in for eight years and suddenly I'm getting serious push back! Grrr. I think it's a case of consumerism winning this one - more plastic crap to buy for Halloween than ever before. My kids have already made a list of the stuff they saw at Woolworths. Looks like this is yet another battle I'm going to lose.

  3. I love Halloween. It's my (Scottish) Dad's birthday and as kids he had us convinced he had superpowers and was a warlock because of his birthdate and had great fun with it. Halloween was always such a family event for us - our street all participated (willingly) back in the '80's and we'd dress up and go trick or treating before finishing with a neighbourhood BBQ. Those were the days.

    I think in this case it's ok to hate the player not the game. Look at what Woolworths and Coles do to the farmers in the name of money, as if they're not going to profit off this too (though I am glad they now sell carving pumpkins, as trying to make Jack o Lanterns out of the regular Australian varieties has always been difficult). I'm making it clear to my neigbourhood that they can get in on the Halloween fun at my place - but not by spending half my wage in Woolworths, Pinterest has given me a billion fun & creative (and cheap) ideas that I'm probably going to need 859 Halloweens to get through.

  4. I hate it too! Fortunately for me we live out of town- so no trick or treating here and secondly it usually co-insides with our towns festival where the kids can get dressed up anyway and get given lollies and balloons at local shops, though not as many as trick or treating would procure!

  5. Wow. I had no idea it had taken over back home as well. And here I am telling the Swedes that like them, we don't do Halloween. I've been away from home too long :(

    I find the whole Halloween thing a bit bemusing. We never celebrated it at all when I lived in Adelaide, though there were a couple of half hearted commercial attempts to foist it upon us in the 1980's. But mostly we ignored it and concentrated instead on important things like thrashing the West Indies or England in the summer cricket series, getting out the barbies after the winter lay-off and gearing up for the Melbourne Cup and Christmas season. Somehow, it was hard to get enthusiastic about candles, witches, darkness and pumpkins when it was 32C outside and the beach beckons. It's just the wrong season and the attempts to introduce it had very cynical, fiscal overtones to it that rubbed people the wrong way. And then there was also a general resentment to what was viewed as the growing Americanisation of our culture.

    Now I'm in Sweden, I find the Swedes are in somewhat of a confused dilemma about the whole Halloween thing. There are shades of the negative feelings you encounter in Australia about commercial interests and the heavy hand of Americanisation of the culture, but there is also a total dog's breakfast about exactly when Halloween falls. Most people don't understand that it's a fixed date, so you get it in dribs and drabs over the course of a week or more.

    Sweden also has a version of trick or treat at Easter (the Easter witches that come around on the Thursday before Easter) so people are happy to confine it to Easter and not have another one now. In general, the Swedes are also fairly protective of their privacy and the idea of sending your kids around the neighbourhood to collect lollies from others is just not the done thing (this is the country where you can live for years in an apartment building without ever knowing who your neighbours are).

    So, we have the darkness, the swirling autumn leaves, the pumpkins etc to create the atmosphere, but no-one interested in it.