Having spent a couple of weeks overseas I’ve obviously fallen off the distribution list. Or maybe it’s because I’m no longer on Facebook. Whatever the reason, I’ve clearly missed the “memo” that this year declared Halloween part of the Australian cultural landscape. And yet it’s odd, since I’ve managed to keep up with almost every other overseas trend over the 45 years of my life.
Like most of my generation who’ve grown up with the television as surrogate parent, I’ve watched hundreds, thousands, maybe tens-of-thousands of hours of American television. Almost every program I watched as a child featured an episode where the children would get dressed up for Halloween and then go out trick-or-treating. But even though we all watched it, I don’t recall anyone ever wanting to do it here. The general consensus amongst my age group was that it was an interesting American tradition, but nothing we would actually consider doing here.
I wonder, then, about the views of my old school-mates and what they must be thinking now. Most of them now have children in their late teens to mid 20s, so they’ve probably missed the boat on the 8 to 10 year old fantasy aspect of Halloween. I kinda understand the fantasy aspect of it all, by the way. I totally get the excitement a lot of kids will get out of this. And I totally get the dual emotions of delight and the horror parents must feel: isn’t it great to see their kids having “harmless” (?) fun?; and isn’t it awful to have something further commercialised, and costing money, so close to Christmas? And it has been commercialised. In my local supermarket last night, for example I noticed a shelf of merchandise for Halloween right next the Christmas merchandise shelf.
What I guess I don’t really understand is why it’s happening now. Have we reached the point as nation that we are so incredibly bored, so entirely lacking in imagination, that we have to follow every lame-arse tradition that we’ve seen from watching too many Hollywood movies, and having a television schedule that increasingly appears to be taking a direct feed of CBS, NBC, ABC and Fox?
And it also seems totally at odds of where we’ve heading with our children, the trend to lock them up, drive them to school, and blow their noses for them. This trend to allow your children to go out and about knocking on strangers doors seems completely at odds with the “stranger danger” paranoia of the last twenty years. There again, it may be a reaction against this. Maybe we, as a nation, want kids to be able to go out and knock on the neighbours doors again without fear they’ll be abused in some way?
I have a thousand and one other objections, many based around issues of religion and faith.
Despite my concerns, and the concerns of a number of friends expressed on places like Twitter, I’m left with the a sense of resignation. It’s happened though, and there’s nothing I can do about it except write this rather pointless blog post. And so tonight, in the unlikely event someone would press the downstairs buzzer, I went and had a look at what treats I might have in the fridge. Oh yes, there’s some lovely fetta. Oh that pate looks gorgeous. Best treat of all, though? Kalles Kaviar. They love it in Sweden. It’s a creamed salmon roe that comes in a tube, and is as salty as vegemite. Now that’s a treat! I’ll bet the kids will love that.