For some, Spooktober is the best month of the year. It’s a time for watching horror films, dressing up, and indulging in sweets – a true highlight of existence. For others, it’s just a good excuse to get recklessly drunk dressed as Gandalf. However, for Halloween Grinchs’, it’s a stark reminder of America’s cultural imperialism Down Under.
Tonight, as I brace myself for the horde of sugar-high kids knocking on my door, it got me thinking: Should Australians really celebrate Halloween? To address this matter of crucial national concern, I took it upon myself to hit the streets and gauge public opinion.
Is it time to put down the fake blood and pick up the pitchforks (metaphorically speaking)? Let’s find out.
In Sydney, a clear generational divide is evident among its residents. The youth, influenced by the inundation of American content on social media, wholeheartedly embraces Halloween, while the older generation leans towards abolishing it altogether.
For the young and spirited like Ben, a 22-year-old, Halloween presents itself as an opportunity to don costumes and enjoy a themed party with friends. “It’s a great opportunity to dress up, make some funny TikToks and enjoy some drinks,” he declares. “I don’t see any issue with it at all.”
Conversely, Denise, a 48-year-old mother of two, differs significantly, saying, “It’s rather absurd that Australians are adopting this American holiday. What’s next? Thanksgiving?” She also pointed out that trying to get her boys to bed after a candy bender, especially when she has work the following day, isn’t exactly her idea of an ideal Tuesday night.
However, some parents, such as John, aged 41, genuinely relish the opportunity to “share quality time with their children and the broader community.” Supporting this sentiment, Dr Paul Harrison from Deakin Business School suggests that Australians should fully embrace the grassroots essence of the tradition, without succumbing to American commercialisation.
Beyond the costume and candy, Halloween retains its community-centric allure, according to Dr. Harrison. This spirit, encompassing children going trick-or-treating, carving pumpkins, and families coming together, can be upheld without falling prey to the Halloween marketing frenzy.
“You can still do Halloween, but you don’t need to buy Halloween,” Dr. Harrison emphasises. In the 21st century, knocking on the neighbour’s door has become a rarity. So can Halloween potentially serve as an annual event to rejuvenate the spirit of community gatherings, resembling a modern version of a traditional block party?
After conversing with people on the street, I soon realised, like many others, that I was quite unaware of the actual origins of Halloween. As it turns out, the tradition of rocking spooky costumes has deep-rooted ties to an ancient Celtic festival known as Samhain.
In Celtic belief, this festival marked the time when the boundary between our realm and the world of ghosts and spirits grew thin, coinciding with the end of the summer harvest (November 1). It was on ‘All Hallow’s Eve’ that people sought to ward off these evil spirits, thus initiating the celebration we now know as Halloween.
This naturally leads to why Australians should partake in this holiday, especially considering that our seasons are opposed to those of our Northern Hemisphere counterparts. The only spirits that Aussies typically contend with around this time of year are more likely to be found at the base of cocktail glasses during a sun-soaked Saturday afternoon barbecue.
It wouldn’t be an article in 2023 without also addressing the sustainability angle of Halloween. A notable piece from ABC a few years back explored the local perspective on Halloween, revealing a prevalent environmental worry. One respondent highlighted the problem of non-recyclable costumes, saying, “Cheap plastic outfits that are only worn once” are an issue. Another critique echoed this sentiment, stating, “It’s merely an Americanism imposed on us by large corporations trying to extract more money from us!”
Moreover, The West Australian has brought attention to another troubling matter: synthetic spider webs are posing a danger to local wildlife. So, before you consider sprucing up your home, take a moment to consider the plight of the bewildered arachnids residing in your garden.
Well, there you have it. We’ve just dissected and miraculously fixed all the oh-so-pressing Halloween issues in Australia. Rejoice, for the nation can now march ahead, hand in hand, in perfect harmony. And to those who think this writer is nothing more than a gloomy killjoy and a Halloween-hating Grinch, my sincerest apologies.
Now, little monsters, kindly read the “No Candy” sign on the front door and spare my house from your egg-throwing antics. Happy haunting!
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