Saturday, 31 October 2015

An Aussie's thoughts on Halloween

I grew up in the western suburbs of Sydney and had no idea what Halloween even was back then. It was only as I got older and the American sitcoms started broadcasting more and more on our tvs, and we occasionally saw Halloween episodes that we started to get an inkling into the popular American holiday. Back in those days though, here in Australia there were no decorations, no one dressed up and no one trick or treated.

When my kids were little, in fact before my son was even born we walked down to the pub for dinner one Halloween. Not that we even realised it was Halloween at the time. My niece and my daughter, who were probably 6 and 3 respectively were dressed up as fairy princesses, purely and simply because that's what little girls like to do and I can assure you that fighting with a three year old about wearing a fairy dress costume to the pub for dinner is simply not a fight that's worth the effort. Any parent knows that you have to pick your battles and I can tell you that my daughter wore some atrocious outfits when she was little. So on the walk back home from the pub after dinner, the girls noticed a couple of kids dressed up knocking on peoples doors and when we explained about Halloween and what they were doing the girls wanted to collect lollies as well. So for the rest of the walk home, that’s what they did. It wasn't really a huge haul that they collected, but it made their night.

That began my trick or treating experiences. Every year after that, the kids would dress up and we would walk with them, standing on the footpath, while they went up and knocked on peoples doors calling “trick or treat” while never actually tricking anyone. When my son was a baby, we’d push him along in the pram with a stash of bourbon cans in the bottom so we could enjoy a drink or two as we walked. When they got older and he walked door to door with the older kids we only had the one drink to last us the 2 or so hours of walking.
Halloweens of past.
The thing about Australia though is, we still don’t really celebrate Halloween extensively, and unfortunately some people can be really mean to the kids about it. My husband had a couple of heated arguments, especially in the early years, with people (usually grumpy old men) who thought it was okay to scream at the kids about “stupid American holidays that don’t belong in this country”. One year, the kids knocked on the door of one house to a really apologetic young woman who had no idea it was even Halloween (not unusual back then) turned out she was a dental hygienist, and although she didn't have any treats, she gave the kids toothbrushes. They actually thought they were best treats ever and were so disappointed when she wasn't home when they knocked on her door again the next year.

These days most people who don’t want to participate at all generally put up a sign saying “no lollies” or “no Halloween”. Most people have something to hand out to the few trick or treaters who do come a knocking, its pretty hard to not realise its Halloween as the shops have had marketed lollies and displays and decorations up since the beginning of October. We always have a bowl of snack size Cadbury chocolates sitting beside the door ready to go. Some years we’ve had no trick or treaters, sometimes 1 or 2. This year we’ve even put up decorations and despite all the rain this morning, it looks like it might be a nice day, so fingers crossed we’ll get to see a few cute kids dressed up as zombies, vampires and superheroes.
My 11yold trick or treating tonight.

So as a addendum now that we have been out trick or treating for the night, It seems people target the houses with decorations, not necessarily even bothering with the houses without. So with our decorations up this year we have had more trick or treaters knock on our door than any other year. And one house that is done to the nines. Front yard, back yard and inside all fully decorated. What an amazing display, and what an awesome woman who invites everyone inside to have a look and see all her amazing displays.

Just for the record. This Aussie gives Halloween a thumbs up.


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