An Australian Halloween

The more I chat to bloggers around the world, the more I’ve come to realise how topsy turvey living in Australia can be and that Halloween is just another example.

While Halloween marks the beginning of a Northern Winter, Down Under, Summer is well and truly underway and life’s a beach.

So, the more I think about celebrating Halloween in Australia, the weirder it becomes and it really doesn’t make any sense at all.

Traditionally, Halloween marked the end of Summer and the harvest and the beginning of the dark, cold winter. This was a time of year that often associated with human death. In the Celtic Calendar, 1st November marked the beginning of the New Year. On 31st October, the night before the new year, the Celts celebratedย Samhain, when the boundary between the worlds of the living and the dead supposedly became blurred and it was believed that the ghosts of the dead returned to earth. In addition to causing trouble and damaging crops, Celts thought that the presence of the otherworldly spirits made it easier for the Druids, or Celtic priests, to make predictions about the future. For a people entirely dependent on the volatile natural world, these prophecies were an important source of comfort and direction during the long, dark winter.

For our family, these practices are quite foreign to our beliefs and are as much out of kilter as the time of year.

However, we go trick-or-treating in our street and the kids have been to a few Halloween parties over the years. However, Halloween is relatively low-key in Australia and unless you have kids or want to attract the local vultures, Halloween passes you by.

This year, for the first time ever, the kids each carved out a little pumpkin and this afternoon we’ll be going trick-or-treating with a few friends in broad daylight. While that’s great for personal safety, it sort of spoils the atmosphere. After all, other than evil nasties, who’s afraid of the light? The sun won’t be setting until 7.21PM.

Personally, I see Halloween more of an opportunity to meet our neighbours as we walk up and down the street and I would quite happily throw all the lollies out. But…these days I’m a grown up, not the little person almost astro-travelling on colours and excess sugar!

We might live in Australia and the seasons might be out of whack but my kids still want the lollies and they taste just as good.

I am also mindful at Halloween that we don’t need to make up spooky stories. That there is more than enough horror in real life. Please read my next post, which is absolutely heart-breaking but unless we learn from horrific tragedy, we are leaving the window open for evil to return. Ignorance is no excuse for evil to flourish.

That said, I’d still like to hear what have you been doing for Halloween. Please leave links to your posts in the comments.

xx Rowena


34 thoughts on “An Australian Halloween

  1. Gulara

    My favourite bit was about violin being potentially scary ๐Ÿ˜€ as a former violin player couldn’t agree more!
    It sounds like you had fun. ๐Ÿ™‚

  2. roweeee Post author

    Gulara, I laughed at your comment re the violin. My son is very good with accents and reproducing all sorts of sounds and his rendition of me playing the violin when I first started is hilarious. I’ll have to tape him and post it on the blog.
    We did have fun and I was pleased that I was well enough to go out with the kids. I’m still taking things pretty slow.

  3. merrildsmith

    I really not big on Halloween, but some people around here are. We didn’t even carve a pumpkin, and we’ll probably go out to the movies. Some people have their houses all decorated, and they spend a lot of time on costumes. Of course, we did a bit more when the girls were young, and their elementary school had a Halloween parade and parties in their classrooms. I never thought about how it must be strange to celebrate Halloween in the summer time in Australia. Here we move back to Standard Time at 2 A.M. on November 1.
    I read an article in the paper about how Day of the Dead activities, which come from Mexico, are becoming more popular. The paper listed some events in Philadelphia.

  4. roweeee Post author

    It was really only when I was researching this post that it really dawned on me that it’s meant to be late Autumn, cold, dark and a bit spooky.
    Most of our neighbours didn’t do much but one house had skeletons set up with red flashing eyes and they gave the kids puppets and toys as well as lollies. They were so generous and really got that party atmosphere happening. Then it started to rain and the friends were being picked up. Glad we went that bit earlier.

  5. roweeee Post author

    My husband mentioned that as well and I have seen the parade on TV before. Our daughter really did get into Halloween as you can see from the face paint, which she did all by herself. She is still quite shy and really hates public speaking and crumpled up the other day in class when she had to give a speech but she’s quite theatrical and I can see how much she loves throwing on a character and getting into it…something you’ve experienced in your family as well!

  6. roweeee Post author

    Merril, I thought you would be interested in this story about Treblinka. We have a show which traces celebrities family histories. Last week, they did Australian broadcaster, Andrew Denton, who has Polish Jewish heritage. Despite conducting probing and indepth interviews of others, he knew surprisingly little about his own famioly history and that family members had been killed at Treblinka during the Holocaust. Here’s a link to his story:
    I have Polish origins on my mother’s side and talk of Jewish heritage, which I haven’t been able to confirm. My family has been out here for generations and yet his story resonated with me. Obviously, it’s not something you want anyone to experience it but really horrific to find your family was right in the thick of it.

  7. merrildsmith

    Thanks for sharing that incredibly moving article. Although it was interesting for the broadcaster to find his ancestry, I was much more interested in the survivor. I always rejoice in every survivor who lived to tell about the horrors of the Holocaust so that it will not be forgotten. He sounds like a remarkable man.

  8. roweeee Post author

    I was very interested in him and Googled his sculptures. He sounds like an incredibly strong man both physically and emotionally. You would no doubt understand and have met and experienced the Holocaust at such a personal level. moreover, here in Australia we tend to have this emotional as well as geographical distance from events overseas. We almost feel immune until another horrific thing hits the news.
    It is so important to tell the stories of the Holocaust and even though he was speaking in Polish with a translator, his testimony was incredibly powerful and you could really get some sense of the anguish that formed his sculptures and drew those detailed maps. What really touched me as well is when he found his own sisters’ clothes in the pile. The intimate, personal level of that find hit my heart like a brick. Statistics have their place but to hear that personal, intimate detail…it opens your eyes, your heart with its rawness.

  9. Midwestern Plant Girl

    I wrote a post last year on Halloween and how I felt it has changed over the years here. It was a huge holiday here when I was a child. No Christmas decorations crowding out the Halloween decorations in the stores, like they do now. I would come home with a pillow case full of candy! Enough to last till Xmas. (In kid terms, 3 days…) We needed no escorts of parents.. No fears of eating razor blades, poison or getting kidnapped. That all happened after I was a bit old to trick or treat. Now it seems to be an adult holiday, where girls just use the excuse to dress with naughty bits hanging out. .. sexy cop, sexy construction worker, sexy nun. Really? The costumes aren’t really well thought out like they used to either. It will be interesting to see where this holiday goes in 20 years. It surely has changed a lot already!

  10. roweeee Post author

    That’s really interesting to hear that sordid side emerging to Halloween. What a shame. I’m so trusting. It never occurred to me that someone would poison the lollies but I do escort the kids around. You do need to be careful and I get to be a part of their fun and meet our neighbours.

  11. edwinasepisodes

    When I was younger we didn’t really make much of Halloween other than a few spooky stories and perhaps a bit of apple bobbing! It has become very much like America over the years with more people making it an occasion, decorating and kids trick or treating. I quite enjoy it though, and love to see the little monsters that come to my door! They put so much effort into their costumes! ๐Ÿ™‚

  12. vanbytheriver

    I was reminded of when we lived in the South, and cut down our Christmas tree wearing shorts and sunscreen. Just seemed wrong. I was missing the cold and snow. โ˜บ

  13. merrildsmith

    I agree with you that the hearing a personal account touches people in way that statistics cannot. I don’t actually have have a personal connection to the Holocaust–except knowing that my family “could have” perished if my grandparents hadn’t immigrated to the US earlier in the century. But they came from Russia, not Poland. Of course, it’s possible there were some distant relations that were affected and/or caught up in the war in some other way.

  14. roweeee Post author

    My family somehow survived the Irish famine which was another instance of horrific genocide. I don’t know much about what they went through except one who was sent out to Australia as part of the Irish Famine Orphans scheme. She was in Middleton Workhouse in County Cork and had lost her father. I researched it quite thoroughly about 2 years ago and how she somehow became one of the chosen ones who survived. I always find those sorts of stories very creepy. One lives another dies through something like the roll of the dice.

  15. Pingback: Weekend Coffee Share: Halloween Edition | beyondtheflow

  16. Norah

    Your daughter looks awesome! Halloween is a bit of a non-event here which suits me. I’m disappointed to see it gaining popularity due to the commercial interest. I saw on TV tonight that a group of families held a Halloween street party. Everyone decorated their homes and yards and they all celebrated in a safe and fun way for children and their families. That is a great way to do it.
    It was interesting to read the history of the event you shared. I grew up in a Catholic household and we knew it as something slightly different, and followed by All Saints’ and then All Souls’ Days. Here is a link It was a bit creepy though. Music started playing and someone started talking as soon as I opened the link! I wonder will it do so for you. ๐Ÿ™‚

  17. New Journey

    I can only imagine how stange it would be to have Halloween to introduce summer….Hummmm …..we went to my daughters who is a Halloween lover….we had a feast of all things pumpkin and sat around and enjoyed each others company……..kat

  18. roweeee Post author

    Quite a few of my ancestors came out either during or just after the Irish Famine. Some of Geoff’s ancestors were quite political over in Ireland and were sent out here for their own safety. There was also Daniel Burke who helped Irish rebel John Mitchel escape. When he arrived in America, he wrote a series called Jail Journal and Daniel Burke gets a mention.

  19. roweeee Post author

    Sounds fabulous. I’ll have to make a Pumpkin Pie soon. My husband loves it and he sure could use a bit of TLC xx Rowena

  20. roweeee Post author

    the kids can look great. My daughter and her friend were out the front and she said that people were waving at her that she hadn’t met before. I pointed out her outfit and that they thought she looked good. It was funny. I’d forgotten all about apple bobbing but that would be a good Halloween activity. Take care xx Rowena

  21. roweeee Post author

    I agree with you Annabelle. Our first Border Collie, Bilbo, freaked out with fireworks and if we weren’t home would jump the side gate and take off like he was possessed.

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