I was amused to read a comment about Halloween made by Howie on Elliot’s Blog “The American Halloween thing has only come over in the last ten years or so…” He is pretty much right on the money. Australians never really embraced Halloween in the way it is embraced in America or even Europe. However the deluge of American movies and television shows that we watch have slowly infiltrated our culture and here we are celebrating Halloween. Although we have no cultural connection to it at all.
The origins of Halloween are linked to Celtic festivals that revolved around agricultural activities in a climate very different from Australia’s. It is interesting to discuss Halloween and if it should be celebrated with colleagues in the Catholic education system. One principal I was acquainted with got very upset when the Tuckshop lady decorated her canteen and offered a spooky special to the students. She was told that there was no place for pagan celebrations in a Catholic school.
On the flip side I made the mistake of mentioning this to another religious educator who had a completely opposite view and wasted no time in informing me about the strong theological connections between Halloween, All Saints and All Souls. Catholic churches in Australia definitely observe All Souls day and the extended event of remembering the “Dearly departed” through the month of November but the secular world never took on Halloween.
I believe the reasons for this are linked to our climate. Halloween is traditionally associated with the dead of winter. In the Northern Hemisphere the nights are long and cold. Samhain celebrates the faith that the seasons are about to turn, resulting in a return to warmer, more productive weather. The average Australian struggles to imagine living in a climate like that. Unless you live in Tasmania. But Tasmania is a different country, right? If you visit from Queensland, where I live, it definitely seems that way. Winter here is mild even resembling the temperatures and sunshine of a British summer. For us 31 October is right at the start of summer or the wet season. The days are longer than nights, temperatures reach well into the 20’s and it can be very humid. A far cry from the darkness threatening to spill out evil creatures.
Nevertheless, we have become Americanised enough for some of us to decorate our houses and dress in ghoulish costumes. Trick or Treating has even become a bit of a thing. Not candy corn though. Like cheese in a can and Twinkies, that stuff should never go into a human’s mouth.
Of course swingers love a good dress up and there are always parties happening that involve getting, sexy and wicked. My daughter’s birthday falls on 30 October so we have not really been able to attend these parties. As she gets older I am hoping these opportunities become more available. I will be attending an actual grown up Halloween party tonight albeit with Vanilla ish people. Because dressing up is fun.