Like any other English-speaking country in the world, Aussies are no stranger to the allure of American popular culture and customs. Our older generations made Ford and GM cars their own, heading into the drive-thru and turning McDonalds into Maccas, while growing millennials would rarely miss a 6pm Simpson’s episode. However, many of us take on a different attitude towards this longstanding influence when it quite literally knocks on your front door!
Putting aside the fact that Halloween’s origins trace as far back as the 4th Century, and didn’t really take root in North America until after an influx of Irish and Scottish migration in the 1800’s, a North American holiday is definitely what it’s seen as now. Other US customs such as Thanksgiving, celebrate events specific to the region, and as a result, haven’t taken hold in Australia the way Halloween has, despite the fact that pretty much every television show beamed to us from across the Pacific has a Thanksgiving episode, and most of us know all about it.
Another reason we feel Halloween has turned into such a phenomenon here, is that it’s just plain FUN! Who doesn’t want to sort out the best costume for a big party and see all the great stuff everyone else has put together, and what little one wouldn’t want to walk door-to-door throughout the neighbourhood filling up a basket full of sweets!? On the face of it, it’s a no-brainer, but for many Aussies, just not what they’re used to.
While hardly anybody could truly bemoan someone for enjoying such a custom, it’s no secret that lots of Australians think it’s just not cricket. The tradition is such in the States, that even those who dread October 31st will usually still have their bowl of chocolates at the ready for anyone who comes to the door. In comparison, the unsuspecting Aussie might wonder why a bunch of kids are expecting them to hand out free junk food, and simply wish to reserve their right not to be bothered at their own home.
Thankfully as Halloween has increased in popularity here across not only younger generations, but with many of their parents as well, communities are noticing a more evenly-balanced divide in attitudes towards the occasion, and are coming up with simple but effective solutions to the problem. One example can be found across LGA’s right here in Perth, which simply instructs households wishing to participate in trick or treating to place a large provided poster at the front of their homes stating that they are “keen on Halloween”, implying that homes without this notice are not to be approached. Feedback from this practice has been almost unanimously positive, with many praising the sense of community that came with engaging in such a celebration, all while those not wishing to participate remained unbothered.
Of course, while communities can mandate whatever they like, how Halloween is perceived is ultimately down to the individual. As long as those celebrating do so respectfully and without infringing on others personal preferences, we can easily adopt the celebration with no obligation!