Remember, Remember the 5th of November? Once we had Cracker Night. It was banned over 40 years ago in Australia. (Read more here.) No other festival has emerged in the Aussie burbs to excite kids, promote random outbursts of minor anarchy or foster neighbourhood interaction like Cracker Night except, perhaps, Halloween on 31st October.
Halloween is not an Aussie tradition. Nor do we celebrate the Hispanic Day of the Dead. The DAY OF THE DEAD to me means election day. Nevertheless, we know all about Halloween. We’ve watched American TV series for yonks. The tradition has dripped into our conscious thoughts like strong brew filter coffee. But we do not celebrate Halloween.
A few midget ghosts and ghouls have knocked on our door over the years. We’ve had to scramble around the house to scratch together some suitable treats including muesli bars and loose change. One time my daughter, then 18 years old, opened the door to three 15 year olds dressed as half-baked and bedraggled jailbait fairies.
‘What do you want?’ my daughter asked,’drugs, booze or cigarettes?’
Many a full moon has risen and ebbed since then and now Halloween has managed a ghoulish foothold in Oz. This year, in one suburb of Melbourne, neighbours left a balloon and instructions in each letter box in the neighbourhood. Willing participants were asked to put the balloon on their letterbox at Halloween so that little trick-or-treaters could knock on their door.
No drugs, booze or cigarettes are involved, but lots of squeals of excitement. And why not? It may not be our tradition, but it gets the kids outdoors and away from their screen-based lives. And, more significantly, it engages the local community.
Of course, we’d have to make Halloween our own. So bring on the Aussie spooks and Okker skeletons, along with ghosts and ghouls girt by sea because no one can remember the 5th of November.