Halloween as we saw it

Halloween has been and gone, as has October.

October’s Month of Softies
can be seen in the gallery over at flickr. I have also announced the new theme for November which can be found in the discussion board there too. Thank you to everyone who has taken part again this month! I am sorry the whole thing is petering out a little, but it is still going on for those who are dedicated. One of these days I hope to get some time to work on an actual MOS project — not just the theme idea!

Here in Australia we don’t really do a lot for Halloween. When I was a kid in Adelaide (back in the 70s, baby) we decided to go trick or treating one year, and it was so unheard of that we attracted blank stares from most of the faces behind screen doors. The following year we were canny enough to distribute brochures around the block during the week before halloween explaining what it was all about. I remember the brochure very clearly – a slip of paper with a few short facts (mostly about the giving of sweets, I am sure) and a fantastic ghost made out of a cotton wool ball with black marker eyes and mouth stuck on at the top. Our success rate was slightly better that year but still not fantastic.

So now that most things North American have slowly but surely permeated our culture, Halloween is a slightly more recognised excuse for a party. Someone going out to trick-or-treat is still a very rare occurrence, reserved mostly for teenagers who have nothing better to do. I think I can remember only two little kids dropping by in the last 20 years. However, last year I did notice a couple of those round, perfectly orange jack o’ lantern pumpkins for sale at the market along side the usual ugly lumpy ones. As Amelia is part Canadian I feel it is important to acknowledge the child’s heritage on both sides especially because this time it involves costumes, spooks and candy. So last week we bought a pumpkin and Big-P showed us antipodean folk how to carve a spooky face into the hard flesh. I was a little concerned as he wildly wielded the carving knife as the pumpkin cost me $21 (!!) but he was quite the expert. So it sat on the front verandah and look very scary for the evening. Of course, as usual no one came by to appreciate it or ask for sweets, but that was our little tribute to Halloween

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28 Responses

  1. Wow, what a charming custom, NOT to have hallowe’en madness. Here in Massachusetts, it’s Hallowe’en central, partly due to the presence of the town of Salem (witch trials). People have 8 ft inflatable pumpkins in their yard and pumpkin lites decorating their porches in this old mill city I live in. When I grew up, Hallowe’en was candy collecting and a box for unicef and — like every other holiday — now americanized into a black/orange consumer spectacle. You can actually send hallowe’en CARDS which seems absurd. Then again, I spent hours perfecting my 2yearold’s costume: Po Teletubby and then schlepping him to neighbors. There’s nothing to make you feel like a mum than handmaking a costume…Claire, you’re welcome to have hallowe’en here, where a giganto pumpkin is $5 and every black cat sports a jaunty orange ribbon

  2. Oh, please don’t abandon MOS. I’ve been wanting to participate but have been a little too pregnant to take on one more thing right now. Maybe there are others with hopeful intentions? πŸ™‚
    Sweet that your husband showed y’all the fine art of pumpkin carving – there’s a tutorial about it on my site a few weeks ago… sort of. But we didn’t pay anywhere close to $21 for our pumpkin or we wouldn’t be doing it!!!!! πŸ™‚

  3. donnadenim@hotmail.com says:

    wow…$21!It makes me feel guilty for not putting one out, since they were 1.99, here in Ontario.
    I had candles in spooky cat faces this year, at the door.

  4. debdownunder@yahoo.com.au says:

    I’m so happy that you did your part to celebrate. I am an american living in australia and I always miss halloween. But this year I just happen to be in california visiting my mom and I just got done carving my jack-o-lantern! πŸ™‚

  5. amitie@amitie.com.au says:

    Trick or treating was huge in Centre Road Bentleigh on Saturday. Hundreds of children in wonderful costumes roamed the shopping strip

  6. oh! It makes me sad to think about MOS not being around. It was your site that led me to all the other wonderful crafty blogs that I am now obsessed with. It is my personal goal to participate in November’s MOS.

  7. mckantiques@bigpond.com says:

    We were out with a group of 15 spooky kids from 1 to 10 years old and actually got sweets every house (most of them were parents of the kids) then all celebrated with a bbq. Its all happening in Bris Vegas.

  8. In these here parts (southern California), the children, teens and even older come knocking on doors till after 10pm demanding sweets! We have to turn off all the lights and post signs saying the candy is GONE and THE KID IS ASLEEP–go away!Growing up on the east coast, I’d say it was the warm weather around here that keeps them coming all night long!

  9. I ran out of time for october’s mos theme, but this month’s is right ip my alley -wonderful !Thank you for including me on your blog list, I’m a long time fan of yours and I feel like I’ve ‘arrived’. : )

  10. Our suburb has a huge Halloween street parade (see Brisvegas rocks!), and the last 2 years when Halloween has fallen on a weekend day the door to door thing was great, not so much this year being a school night…I paid $10 for my carving pumpkin this year and then saw them for $3 on Saturday. But hey, it’s fun!(DH is NOT allowed to go near next years!)

  11. I was going to suggest that you grow pumpkins next year, but then I remembered that they would be ripe around Easter in Australia! No wonder they cost $21. As for MOS, it was what turned me on to the crafty blog world, too–I’m on my oway over to check out this month’s theme. Thank you!

  12. I know for me, the Flickr thing has put me off MOS a bit – although I am slowly making my way around the huge functionality that site has (it’s very confusing when you start out). I’ll try to be good and participate for November, OK? πŸ˜‰

  13. Still, having no one stop by to appreciate it is better than the ‘tradition’ often followed here in Maritime Canada: destruction of lovingly carved pumpkins by local punks, er, teenagers. Smashed pumpkins on November 1 are a common sight, and I remember one Halloween when the pumpkins at Mum’s were violated several times, and the house was egged too. Of course, all of that stopped when she tied the dog to the front step for the night. πŸ™‚

  14. jaimn75@hotmail.com says:

    You should time a visit to Toronto one year at Halloween, just to see Amelia’s reaction. Last night we took our nieces out trick-or-treating and practically every house was decorated with jack-o-lanterns, cobwebs, candles, pumpkin lights, etc. There were front lawns covered with fake tombstones and fog machines even! The kids were mesmerized.

  15. The closest I got to Halloween this year was buying a pumpkin a few weeks ago that rotted before I could carve it. But I love seeing everyone else’s!

  16. I love that you informed your neighbors with flyers. So funny!

  17. You are very clever, Claire! I like the pre-Halloween week brochures!!! Very clever, and very, very funny!
    It’s funny b/c I used to live in México — and in the area where I lived, they actually celebrated Halloween there. Instead of saying, “Trick or Treat” they would say “Queremos Halloween” (We want Halloween). Funny stuff! Maybe you could use this chant for next year?

  18. a1ross@ucsd.edu says:

    Sadly enough, around my apartment in San Diego most of the kids just go to the mall for trick-or-treating. I had to go to my cousin’s house, in a more suburban area, to see cute kids in costumes. So sad!

  19. hello! maybe next year you could try carving a persimmon! πŸ™‚

  20. Here at the other end of Melbourne from you we get 1 or 2 trick or treaters every couple of years. They always catch us unprepared. All we had available was chilli chocolate. Not terribly appropriate for little kiddies.

  21. sasor@hotmail.com says:

    I grew up in a small midwestern (U.S.) town where Halloween was a wonderful neighborhood event.
    Now I live in Fort Worth, Texas where very few trick-or-treaters go house-to-house. Most parents take their kids to churches (known as trunk or treat because candy is distributed from car trunks) or the mall.

    We had approximately 15 to 20 kids come to our house last night. I’m now left with a big bowl of Snickers, Kit Kats, Milky Ways, Twix, and Crunch bars. It’s a pity I’ll have to eat them all myself.

  22. um. ok so it looks like a really weird comment i left before, but that’s just ‘cos i put a link in “persimmon” which didn’t work out. oops! go see it here:

  23. tiffanyhutton@indigoink.com.au says:

    I’m in Sydney, and the first year we were on this street I actually put out flyers to warn people that my kids and some others would be trick or treating. Gradually the people around here have got used to it, especially since I put my pumpkins (I have to order the carving ones) out a couple of days beforehand. This year we had a big party (over 30 kids) and did apple bobbing and mummy wrapping and feely bags etc and it was a HUGE success. We spent weeks planning and days decorating and it was all worth it.

  24. jano@stjames.net.au says:

    Hi there – my husband is from California and we live in Sydney, so I feel that my daughter needs to come to grips with her cultural heritage as well. We celebrate Thanksgiving, as well, which means we have two extra days to celebrate in the otherwise exhausting leadup to Christmas – how DO the North Americans do it? As for trick-or-treating, we have quite a few expat US friends who expect us each year. I don’t inflict it on my fellow Aussies, though – I feel pretty diffident about asking strangers for food!

  25. roslyn_grundy@optusnet.com.au says:

    Trick or treating is huge in beautiful downtown Alphington (Melbourne). Sort of. A few locals do put decorations out (including a sign on one gate reading “Halloween-friendly house”) and many now remember to buy sweets. My favourite moment was when the household of hippies proffered organically dried figs and apricots. Bless ’em.

  26. Well I can see that Halloween would have less appeal if your pumpkins are $21! I’m rapidly converting my Australian Husband tho, and I think it’s now one of his favorite holidays! πŸ˜‰

  27. And what a wonderful tribute it is. Wow- $21! Here in Canada we pay $2-$10 depending on how large and how long you want to be carving the thing. I had no idea your husband was a canuck. Very cool!

  28. Good Goddess 21$ for a pumpkin???We actually saw some Pumkin Gourds from your land that were Blue this year!! Mabey out in the Country they have more Pumpkin offerings? If you would like Pumpkin Seeds and Giant Sunflower Seeds (my childrens obsession this last Summer) let me know and this goes for everyone – We had a giant pumkin patch and I have great oranges and a few Lumina (white pumpkins all the rage) seeds. I have a few Blue Squash seeds too which make the best Ghosts =)
    ~Lili from Wisconsin