Halloween in Australia
My Twitter friend Caro Webster aka @salisburydowns enlightens us about Halloween in the southern hemisphere. It never occured to me that reverse seasons had an effect on weather themed holidays. Caro is an advocate for outdoor activities for children and has lots of great ideas to share.
I LOVE Halloween and in one form or another have celebrated it all my life and now my children do too. However, many in Australia do not. Descriptions such as “a glammed-up celebration of ghoulishness”, “over-commercialized clap trap”, “a celebration of lollies and terror”, “Americanization by stealth” all spring to mind. So when Betty asked me whether Australians celebrate and embrace Halloween like the U.S does, I had to tell her that sadly, the short answer is no.
Australia’s ‘lack of uptake’ regarding Halloween is understandable if you look at its history and our geographic location.
As many already know, Halloween can be traced back to Celtic and Gaelic times and a festival known as Samhain. Then, it was an annual festival held to celebrate the end of summer’s bounty but also to prepare for the long, cold winter months to come. It was believed that during Samhain, the ‘doors’ between the real and spirit worlds could be opened and as such evil spirits would walk the earth.
So during Samhain, people dressed up like the very ghouls they feared and also carved lanterns (using root vegetables) in an attempt to scare the spirits and keep them at bay. Bonfires played a part. They were lit as a way of disposing of the carcasses of