Sunday, October 31, 2010

Anti-Halloween Aussies

Halloween decorations in the U.S. consist of golden and amber colors representing the foliage of Fall. Orange pumpkins and gourds adorn tables and porches, as the smell of caramel apples, pumpkin pies and candy corn permeate the air. All of these press certain buttons (so to speak), in children of all ages, which cause for an uncontrollable excitement to creep up in them, and thoughts of dressing up begin to invade their minds. "What are you going to be this year?" is a commonly heard question in schools and playgrounds.

October 31st falls smack dab in the middle of Spring in the southern hemisphere. Flowers bloom, birds mate and people suffer from hay fever. But, even if it were Fall, Australia is 'a baby' in the whole game of Halloween. People know of the holiday because of TV and films, and I'm sure Aussie kids must have been wishing long and hard for the 'dress up, candy holiday' would hit Australian shores and take off in viral popularity, because if my daughters' school friends are any indication of the average Australian kid, I'd say that this is very much the case.

Our first trick-or-treating experience in Australia was in 2008. A hand full of little girls, all dressed as witches (they're still new at this... they don't know that the costume possibilities are endless) invited my daughters to attack specially marked houses in their neighborhood, and shyly request 'lollies' from their neighbors.

It was very cute.

I trained the girls to say "trick-or-treat" when knocking at the door, and to ask for candy (assertively). Some people, even though they had marked their house to welcome the little ghouls that night, ran out of sweet treats; they simply were not well prepared for the avalanche of kids. I told my group that in this circumstance, we were almost 'allowed' to egg these people's houses; explaining the reason for "trick or treat" = "we will spare you a trick on your house, if you give us a treat". As the girls got very excited about the prospect of trashing someone's house with eggs (it didn't take much to get them roweled up - a bit scary), I had to calm them down, and explain that only 'naughty' children do that in America, so... NO! We would not be doing this.

In 2009 we persisted in our 'attack' of the neighborhood, and even found a gem - an apartment complex - where people were super excited to have trick-or-treaters, come knocking.

This year we noticed that the two large supermarket chains (Coles and Woolworth) had orange pumpkins, eyeball candies, party plates and costumes-a-plenty. I think that someone in marketing must have sensed that the kids of Australia were ready for Halloween and money could be made for the stores.

My family and I have been counting down the days to the 31st. We even planned a great big party with fun activities. Then... the rain came in, and destroyed all hopes of any of it.

So, here I am, listening to the rain bombard the roof of my house, and sighing in disappointment that we could not venture out in the night, with our jack-o-lantern candy buckets, showing off our creative costumes (baby Gaga, Katy Perry, she-devil and a clown). I thought of finding a place indoors where my girls could enjoy some games and fun food, in the spirit of all hallows eve, and as I Googled "things to do in Melbourne on Halloween", I came across some rather negative posts about the holiday. Here's an example from Yahoo Answers:

"This isn't America and we don't want to be like America so we don't do the halloween thing here. What sort of irresponsible parent would let their kids go knocking on the doors of complete strangers anyway? Have you considered there could be pedophiles behind any of those doors waiting to grab your child?

I also think it is completely wrong allowing a child to wander the streets begging for lollies. It is a joke. I have even seen kids who haven't dressed up just walking around with a bag scabbing food from people. I really hope Australia wakes up soon and bans this American junk."

This was just one, of several comments like it, that i came across. I was a little bummed out about it. It reminded me of the many times I was told by my father that "insert pretty much any Western holiday here" was not 'our people's, so we didn't do that'. At the risk of being labeled a 'globalist' and attempting to homogenize the world, I thought I'd say: Hey! If it's not hurting the child, why not let him/her celebrate Festivus... who cares! Spread joy around the world. Propagate fun in life. Why is it 'bad' to celebrate "an American holiday"?

I'm glad I will be doing my part in spreading the joy of Halloween, one week late (we re-scheduled our party for next weekend due to the rain out). This year apparently 20% of the Australian population planned to celebrate Halloween... I'm going to campaign hard for next year... to make it 100%... mwahahahahahahahah!!!!

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