Halloween wasn’t a part of my 1960’s childhood. There was the occasional reference primarily through the Charlie Brown Comic series.
The first time I realised it was becoming more of a mainstream “thing” was when Primary School Teacher and then Partner told me about the Halloween sleep over at school.
I suspect I expressed surprise they were celebrating this ritual, but was dutifully supportive.
Like very many others, I have been dismissive of Halloween's gradual intrusion into our way of life. I have put forward the usual arguments including the continued Americanisation of the Australian way of life, which I know to be a nonsense argument. It is nonsense because our way of life, like every other country’s way of life is constantly evolving,
My next argument has been the “Commercialisation: of a Pagan Festival.
Again, a nonsense argument in that I pick and choose my commercialisation prejudices.
I follow a number of sports (including American sports) and all have become increasingly commercialised over the years. Those sports that are not, are working to be more commercial.
However, the self-dismissal of my own arguments is not the reason I am relaxed about Halloween.
Two years ago I found myself in America during Halloween, New York City to be specific.
I had always perceived Halloween to be about witches, warlocks and faces carved from pumpkins.
I happened to be out and about in Downtown New York City during the morning peak hour rush on Halloween Eve, a Friday in this case so the last working and school day before the festive day.
Many of the businesses were decorated for Halloween.
But most striking was the number of children dressed up for Halloween. Not only were there witches and warlocks, but any number of other film and cartoon inspired characters. And the costumes were amazing (in a good way).
There was a real sense of fun as many business commuters interacted and acknowledged the children in Halloween theme. It brought smiles to many faces, young and old.
Our group was staying in Times Square for a few days including Halloween. All day there was a sense of “party” in and around Times Square however that night, it kicked up another level. Singing and dancing went on all through the night, and again, it was the happy celebratory kind of noise, not the drunken kind.
Perhaps Halloween is a chance for a happy celebration and coming together of people of all ages, from all walks of life. A gathering of people where country of origin, religious beliefs and gender is irrelevant. Where political and sexual preferences are cast aside.
Maybe Halloween in Australia can be cast as a neutral celebration with a positive meaning and outcome. And this can start in the Primary Schools and filter through society as these children become teenagers and adults.
It is worth a try.