When I was young I lived in Queensland, which is the northern most state of Australia, and one of the nicest weather-wise in my allergic-to-the-cold opinion. I lived there up until just before my teen years. I remember every year getting dressed up and roaming the streets with other kids, and even sometimes our parents, knocking on peoples doors and blackmailing them for lollies, or candy if you prefer.
I remember one year being wrapped in those infernal bandages, because every child apparently dreams of being mummified – like having your organs removed and brain ripped out through your nose is something to aspire to. I remember one of our family friends getting dressed up in a very tight and small mini-dress and heels – he was very pretty that year.
I remember that one year when things seemed to change a little and we were warned to only accept wrapped lollies, and no apples or anything. Because apples were always so tempting to our sweet teeth. I suppose there was some sort of tampering the previous year – or perhaps it was one of those pre-Facebook “This town banned Christmas lights” hoaxes. Who knows? My mum probably, I might ask her one day.
Then when I was eleven I moved to Victoria, the southernmost state before Tasmania (which no one counts anyway). I obviously had little choice in the matter, when the parents decide to move you apparently cannot stay behind. Ridiculous.
So here I was, stuck in this hellishly cold state (I do recognise the irony of that phrase, yes), and imagine my surprise when Halloween comes along and the very idea of dressing up and trick or treating was completely foreign to everyone around me. A much loved yearly event, completely gone. Victorians, so bloody backwards and slow. I still live in Victoria by the way.
As the years passed some people attempted some Halloweeny things occasionally. Dress up parties and the like. But it was only a few people. More often I would hear the oddest statements from the people around me – usually adults, because kids and teens couldn’t care less about such things.
“That’s an American holiday and we don’t need to become more Americanised than we already are!”
“Halloween has never been in Australia and never will be!”
“That’s a Christian holiday and we already have enough of those!”
These statements are becoming far more common and ever so louder with each passing year, because with each passing year Halloween seems to be growing ever more popular. And I still find them extremely odd.
Did you read my first few paragraphs? I was celebrating Halloween, indeed from what I can tell, the majority of Queensland was celebrating Halloween decades ago. But it’s now new and horrible and taking over our country? And let’s not even get started on the fact that Halloween is mostly based on Samhain, a Celtic festival and the majority of white multi-generational Aussies happen to be of Celtic descent. And it wasn’t Christian to begin with. So the whole “Ah too Christian, too American” thing is a bit ridiculous.
Look I get it, the fear of our Americanisation is real and legitimate. Each year things get worse here as our government attempts to adopt certain American ways. But how about you put a bit more of your outraged energy into fighting the privatisation of our almost free healthcare system and get the hell over a non-compulsory, not-actually-American, not-actually-Christian commercial festival that is about fun and fear!
And just to be mean, maybe we should copy America in some things – like marriage equality. But no, let’s just pretend we are better with our former Prime Minister quietly changing the wording of the marriage act a couple years ago to specify that marriage should be between a man and a woman, thus sending us into the bloody dark ages.Pick your battles Australia. Halloween is fun, find something better to fight.
Of course, there is another reason some people hate the idea. They don’t want kids knocking on their door blackmailing them for candy. And parents are worried about their kids going to strangers houses. And allregies are a concern too.
That is actually relatively easy to fix, especially in a small town like mine – ever heard of a Facebook group where people can list their houses as good for trick or treaters? I have also seen other people suggest tying a certain coloured balloon to their mailbox or fence or gate, or hanging a sign stating that Halloween is welcome here. And of course, if you are hanging Halloween decorations outside your house, then you really shouldn’t complain if kids come knocking! And as for the strangers thing, try walking around with your kids, you might have fun.
The allergies thing is easily fixed too, those people who offer candy to the kids, could try having alternatives to give out – like balloons and glow sticks and fun things like that. Or, if you really want to get into the spirit of Halloween, why not give the kids something scary, like one of those birthday whistle things. That is sure to terrify, or is that terrorise, every parent out there.
But these are all mundane issues. For the Aussie Pagans, Witches and similar, there is of course the other concern. I have made myself quite clear about how I feel about the various commercial festivals that inundate us with the wrong seasonal imagery. It is something that really annoys a lot of us Aussie Pagans. But I have also been honest that I don’t include Halloween in this, because, it’s Halloween. Halloween is our time and we should be happy to celebrate it.
I get it, pumpkins and apples aren’t exactly in season, it is a bit on the nose when they come popping out of the shadows like they belong. But you do not have to partake in such things if you don’t wish, and there are Aussie alternatives when it comes to the seasonal decorations. Skulls, witches and all that various spooky stuff should not, ever, at all, be limited to one season. And spider webs? This is Australia, we have the monopoly on spiders!
It is Beltane here in Aus when Halloween comes howling, but I seriously do not see these two things as incompatible. I have said it before, dressing up for Halloween and Beltane at the same time sounds like awesome fun to me. And as the lovely Chaos Witch Lee suggests, skulls and roses and darkest of dark chocolates are not against the rules. A deep dark Beltane? Why on earth not? I do love me some black and red. Besides, a couple fake spiders on the pillow never hurt anyone. No really, it’s fun, might turn into a wrestling match.
You don’t have to welcome Halloween into Australia, but you do have to realise, it is here and it has been here for longer than most of you seem to think. I celebrated it as a child with many other kids and families, it has been in Australia for well over 20 years. It’s not that new. Halloween is here, it’s been here for ages and it’s not going anyway. It’s only going to get bigger.
So, why not take advantage of the fun? Get spooky, put on your best witchy dress, grab your broom and put on that witches hat that I know you have. Get out there and cackle and have fun scaring the kids. They’ll love it, and you probably will too.
Go on. Live a little. Get your witch on.