Trick, treat, or opt out?
Halloween is almost upon us. On October 31 thousands of children and adults around the globe will don strange costumes and wander the streets.
Tricks will played, treats will be given …. but will Australians ever really embrace the day?
I love Halloween and in one form or another have celebrated it all my life. However, many in Australia do not. Descriptions such as “glammed-up celebration of ghoulishness”, “over-commercialized clap trap”, “a celebration of lollies and terror”, “Americanization by stealth” all spring to mind. So when a friend from the US asked me whether Australians celebrate Halloween like they did, I had to tell her that sadly, the short answer was no.
But Australia’s lack of uptake of Halloween is understandable if you look at its history and our geographic location.
Northern hemisphere in origin Halloween has been around in some form for thousands of years.
It was the Irish who took the concept of Halloween to America during the 1840s. Since then, this simple seasonal festival has morphed to become a full-blown day (and evening) of celebration, fun, baking, autumn craft activities, pumpkin carving & eating, community - all with a splash of mystery and mischief. After all, many young children just love getting or giving a good scare.
So why didn’t the Irish, who also came to Australia in droves during the mid-1800s, bring Halloween here?
Well, I’m sure they tried but in Australia October 31 is halfway through spring. It’s a time of verdancy, growth, new life and warm days with impossibly blue skies. Any evil spirit would be hard pressed to survive such joie de vivre. Add to this that there would have be nary a pumpkin, gourd or tuberous vegetable in sight and the essence of Halloween would have inevitably suffered.
I imagine that it would have just seemed plain stupid to our early Irish settlers to perpetuate a part of their culture that bore no relation to the season and climate in which they now found themselves.
But that doesn’t mean we can’t celebrate aspects of Halloween now.
I am committed whenever possible, to supporting any activity that encourages children and parents to spend time outside, be it directly connecting with nature or taking a simple stroll around your suburb. Halloween gets a big tick on both these counts.
It’s like a giant street party, tempting our children to get out and about in their local community, greeting neighbours they may only see once a year. It stimulates a connection with nature by default. It affords the opportunity to talk to your kids about history, harvests, growing your own food, the celebration of bounty and the cycles of life. And it is a great time to have a go at some nature craft activities (non-season dependent!).
So get outside on 31 October, control the sugar intake and enjoy all the positive things Halloween affords.
Read all about it
Up to the minute Twitter chatter
Australia. Where you die for your country and get a rest area named after you http://t.co/hO6LpfwDvI
The latest and greatest
Good morning Punchers. After four years of excellent fun and great conversation, this is the final post…
I have had some close calls, one that involved what looked to me like an AK47 pointed my way, followed…
In a world in which there are still people who subscribe to the vile notion that certain victims of sexual…