Friday, 2 November 2012

Halloween Down Under

 I count myself extremely fortunate to have experienced Halloween in French Canada, English Canada, Switzerland, England, and now Australia.  However, it is clear that the notion and associated protocols of Halloween are only clearly understood and respected in North America.  The rest of the world has much to catch up with.

Remember this?   Halloween in Switzerland

We have burned effigies of Guy Fawkes, and launched firecrackers and rockets in London in a gruesome re-creation of the ill-fated gunpowder plot of 1605.

But for me Halloween meant having a costume big enough to fit over your winter jacket, ski pants, and tuque.  It meant traipsing from one house to the next over common lawns and ONLY approaching houses burning Jack O'Lanterns at their front door.  It meant screaming in mock terror at the pretend graveyards, and most importantly, it meant a seriously bulging bag of WRAPPED candy booty by the time we returned home with frozen feet and runny noses.

The ninja, the witch and J as a vampire ghost(?)
 I didn't plan anything this year as Halloween really isn't marked in Australia, particularly a day before the start of Melbourne's Spring Racing Carnival.  Melburnians twin passions are Footy and horse racing.  All the city decorations and excitement are directed towards a week of racing leading to the iconic running of the Melbourne Cup next Tuesday.  Halloween is brushed off as ridiculous, potentially dangerous, and consumptive.

Consequently, J in his usual passion for all things holiday-related took it upon himself to help organise a group of like-minded souls and together this empowered little group made a plan.  They nominated a house (not mine) as command central, plotted a route, recruited parents, and wrote a rather long-winded but lovely poem to recite at each door.  The poem was quickly abandoned in favour of the traditional "Trick-or-Treat!".

Trick-or-Treating beneath the Palms
...and in front of Birds of Paradise

October 31 in Melbourne saw temperatures of 30c, not at all appropriate but the group soldiered on.  They pounded on locked gates, they yelled into intercoms, they chased homeowners down long windy driveways, they climbed long stairs in search of hidden front doors, they sweated under their costumes in the humid air.  In short, they worked hard!

Their booty was a tad pathetic.  A banana and five-dollar note being my personal favorites.  Most people answered their door looking bemused, and offered a Tim Tam or bowl of M&Ms to be shared.  The idea of WRAPPED candy was not clear.

In the end though, the joy and magic were palpable amongst this little motley group of ghouls.  J looked up us as we walked back to command central and inquired happily, "can we do this again next year?"


Jen said...

no matter what expectations we bring to such occasions it would seem that kids have an awesome ability to overcome all obstacles :)

Elizabeth said...

A banana? A banana? That reminds me of the scares in the seventies, when rumor had it that people were putting razor blades in apples, so we'd throw them all out!

Thanks for sharing a bit of the Aussie Halloween with us!

Sheila Cook said...

Ahhhh... the Hallowe'en thing in anywhere but N America... they really just don't get it.Try as they might...Halloween in England is scary -like the more blood and guts the better...grim stuff. I laughed at the old banana - priceless! I too think fondly ofsub-zero temps in Montreal running around the streets with a UNICEF box around my neck - remember??? awwww... good memories.X