Halloween Down Under – should it even be a thing?

2 Comments

Halloween Down Under – should it even be a thing?

I’m not sure if there’s anything more hotly contested at the moment than what our kids should be getting up to on October 31st.

All of a sudden it seems, come October our grocery stores are full of grinning pumpkins, black pointy hats and cobwebs.  Schools and daycares are organising Halloween dress-up days and lolly hunts.  And, more than one homeowner has been caught out on Halloween with a bunch of kids at their front door and nothing but a few wrinkly oranges rolling around in the fridge (Yes, I admit it, that was me.  The kids, bless their little hearts, took the oranges with a polite thankyou.)

The dectractors are many.  "Resist American Imperialism!" they holler. "Down with all-consuming Consumerism!"

"It's just a bit of fun," call back the proponents, "After all, how are you going to stop the kids getting involved if it involves lollies, dressing up, and generally running amuck with their mates?"

Look, we get it. Australians by nature have a bit of a rebellious streak, a resistance to following meekly along in the ‘world leader's’ footsteps.

And while it’s inevitable that in a global village made increasingly smaller by technology, there’s going to be a fair bit of cultural cross-pollination, we have a long history of doing things our own way down under.

It began with the Indigenous Australians, who came up with a whole host of unique innovations.  Take the woomera for instance.  Plenty of cultures used spears, but the woomera takes it a step further.  Australian Geographic explains that this unique invention used leverage to allow a spear to be thrown up to three times further than normal.  Some witnesses report seeing spears thrown with enough force to skewer the trunk of a full-grown eucalyptus tree.

Then there is Christmas.  A blistering hot December means that the sleigh bells and ice-skating of the traditional European Christmas are off the table.  Christmas in Australia on a scorching summer’s day means something uniquely us.  It means spending the day splashing about in your cousin’s pool, playing backyard cricket in your bare feet, and seeing how much pavlova and trifle you can sneak onto your plate without your mum catching you.  It's become a time where family and friends gather, work takes a backseat, and the whole country relaxes.

Finally, we turn our eyes to the beloved Hills Hoist.  Where else could a laundry tool become a cultural icon? Slinging your smalls over a line is not a new concept; people have been doing it for centuries.  But, in Australia, the Hills Hoist is more than just an ecomonical way to dry your clothes.  Somehow, it’s come to stand for the laid back, fun-loving, outdoorsy life that we value. They are planted proudly in the middle of the backyard, for the butcher birds to perch on, and the kids to swing off.  A common idea, but transformed into a unique Australian form.

Why should Halloween be any exception to this proud tradition of innovation? 

When you think about it, there’s plenty about Halloween that fits in with the values that we hold dear. 

There’s the coming out from behind increasingly high, thick, front fences to have a good, old-fashioned chinwag with the neighbours.

There’s the opportunity for the kids to just be kids for a bit.  To run around in the street with the neighbours’ children, rather than being closed in by four walls and a bunch of screens.

There’s the not-taking-ourselves-too-seriously.  Where CEOs and bus drivers alike get into the spirit of the thing, replacing the uniforms that tend to put us into economic pigeon-holes with ridiculous get-ups of all descriptions.

As for the specific details, we have every confidence in the never-failing inventiveness of Aussies to make something unique out of the Halloween tradition.  To organise street-wide treasure hunts, street cricket matches, and outrageous costume-themed events.

After all, this is the land of the boomerang, the budgie smuggler, and the beer can regatta. 

Who knows what we'll come up with! 


2 Responses

Stephanie
Stephanie

October 21, 2019

No!! I absolute hate it! My 2.5yo is petrified of all the spider webs, skeletons, witches and ghosts. But to be honest, even if I was in the USA I wouldn’t be joining in. It’s origins are all about the dead and spirits, no thanks!!

Kelly
Kelly

October 21, 2019

I used to be a bit against Halloween, but having read this post, I’ve changed my tune. I’d love to see Aussies put a unique spin on Halloween and look forward to my kids participating when they’re a bit older :)

Thanks guys for the great post.

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