Halloween used to be a dirty word in Australia and was widely (and incorrectly) dismissed as an ‘American Holiday’. In my corner of Melbourne in the 1990s, it was rare to find anyone dressing up to go trick-or-treating, and even rarer for people to be stocking up to give treats to strangers.
I remember having one Halloween party at age 5, when my Canadian mum had just returned from the motherland with a suitcase full of jack-o-lantern bowls, fake blood and witches hats. My sister dressed as a robot with a box on her head, I as a cat. We had fun with our costumed friends at home but when we knocked on our neighbours’ doors we were met with blank stares and in one instance, utter disdain.
A few years later I attended the Halloween party of a boy from school. This time his parents had worded up the neighbours and we only went to the prearranged houses. It was fun, but absolutely not the norm.
In 2019, there are absolutely still Australians who love to hate Halloween because they see it as stupid, frivolous and a form of American cultural imperialism (this article is excellent at explaining why). I note these Australians have no issue embracing every single other aspect of American culture from Netflix to Coca Cola.
But I am really heartened to see Halloween gaining in popularity across this wide brown land. My local council has even put up some token decorations. This is all led, of course, by children. I am fanatical about fancy dress, fond of actually knowing your neighbours and love a miniature Mars Bar as much as the next person. Halloween brings these three things together and I figure if you can’t muster a smile for a tiny tot dressed up as a mummy that’s on you.
Will you be celebrating Halloween this year?
We always give out candy, every year. My brother-in-law that lives around the corner from us never does though. He seems to have a distaste for all holidays. His mom also keeps the lights off and doesn’t give out candy. But when my father-in-law was alive he would get so excited and sit out in his lawn chair with a big bowl of chocolates to hand out to kids. It was fun seeing all the kids dressed up. My mother-in-law is from Italy. It isn’t her fault she doesn’t do the Halloween thing, she never grew up around it when she was little.
I love that your father-in-law used to sit outside and hand out chocolates, that is so sweet! A lot of people outside North America don’t grow up with Halloween and trick or treating, I’ll be interested to see if anyone knocks on our door tomorrow night.
I wonder about that too. If I am left with candy and prizes I will have to donate them to the medical center or little library in town up north.