Monday, October 25, 2010

Halloween in Oz...or not.

When we moved here 5 1/2 years ago, Halloween was not a big deal at all. The stores didn't have decorations, and at least in our part of Sydney, no one dressed up or trick-or-treated. I remember our first Halloween here--I had a two year old and a two week old, and I was perfectly happy to not have to do it all!

Over the last few years, though, I've noticed that more people and more of our grocery stores and shops are getting into Halloween. I've heard about some neighborhoods that go all out, with every house decorated. And though it's nothing like what it is in the States, there's a lot more Halloween chatter and activities going on. It's been interesting to watch it gradually catch on here.

Yesterday, Grace and I were at Woolworth's (our local grocery store) and I saw this:
Good news is, you can get a Halloween pumpkin for your very own self. Bad news is, you gotta pay 25 bucks for it. I stood there and laughed to myself in the produce section. Because there is no way, noooooo way, that I am paying $25 for a pumpkin. Not gonna happen.

Thankfully, our kids don't know what they're missing. They don't know that their cousins in America will go out trick-or-treating and come home with 8 pounds of candy. Last year, we visited about 4 houses--all friends of ours--and came home. Ava and Nate were happy, and so was I. Easy peasy.

A few nights ago, I was at a preschool committee meeting and the subject turned to Halloween. Most of the moms there were ambivalent about it, but a few were adamant. They didn't like Halloween and didn't see the point of it. It wasn't really because of their religious views, as is often the case in the States with people who don't participate in Halloween. It was more like, why do people do this? What's the point? Plus,isn't this an American thing? You can imagine that, if you didn't grow up doing it yourself, the idea of dressing your children up and sending them out to countless houses asking for candy is a little bizarre. One lady said her husband was caught unaware by some hopeful trick-or-treaters last year and all he had to give them was dried figs. Ha! Awesome.

Because we're pastors, people sometimes ask us what we think about Halloween. Jason's birthday is on October 31st, so you can imagine how great Halloween was for him as a kid. I think he was probably 12 before he realized that all the costumes and candy weren't just for him. We both grew up dressing up and going trick-or-treating and it was lots of fun. I am reasonably certain that I didn't accidentally worship the devil in the process. But I get why people are concerned. I understand that it's disturbing for some. So when people ask my opinion about Halloween--which doesn't happen so often over here--I usually say that if it bothers them or violates their conscience in any way, don't do it.

For us, we allow our kids to trick-or-treat. But I don't like making a huge deal of Halloween. Mostly cause I don't want Christmas to just seem like that other thing we decorate the house for. Know what I mean? And also, cause I ain't paying $25 for a pumpkin.


  1. $25 ouch. I didn't grow up with Halloween but we did do fireworks on Guy Fawkes Day and burn the "guy" on the bonfire without realising it was a horrid anti-catholic tradition. I think we survived that without damage to conscience.

  2. Hey curiously! That's interesting...I've only heard of Guy Fawkes Day since we've been in Australia, cause we have a lot more British friends here. And then, I think that movie V for Vendetta talked about Guy Fawkes as well?

  3. One of the perks of living overseas is not getting caught up in Halloween plans! When we lived in Thailand, my older daughter would usually have a costume, and she'd maybe trick or treat at a half-dozen houses in our compound, and that was a nice small taste. But this year, I don't think that any of our neighbours celebrate (being Vietnamese), so I think that I'm off the hook! I would love to come across a pumpkin patch, though.

  4. You know what's of the devil?? $25 for a pumpkin. Aaaaaargghh! Oh no they didn't!

    It's actually cheaper by volume than the can of Libby pumpkin in the fancy grocery in Sydney, remember?

  5. My pumpkin patch experience was a trip to Trader Joe's for $3.49.
    Your Halloween with limits sounds cool.

  6. Halloween is one American custom the world would be better off without.

  7. I lived in NZ for a few years as a kid, and tried to impose the North American Hallowe'en on them. It didn't really take.

  8. I'm trying to imagine what you'd have to do to erase your carbon footprint after buying one of those $25 pumpkins that were probably shipped in from California.

    Luckily for me, Jude has so strangely little interest in candy, that no matter how cool Halloween is, Christmas FAR outshines it.