Do Australians celebrate Halloween? Where did Halloween come from? Can I go trick-or-treating? Your questions answered.
Halloween is an annual celebration held on 31 October every year. It’s a day where children and adults alike dress up in costumes, walk through their neighbourhood trick-or-treating, carve lanterns out of pumpkins and bob for candy apples.
This is a hugely popular day in North America. Even big companies like Starbucks join in on the fun by offering Pumpkin Spice lattes during the Halloween period. But in countries like Australia, Halloween can often slip by without anyone even noticing and many Australians openly reject this celebration.
Read on to under the history of Halloween and why Australians are divided over this spooky celebration.
Do Australians celebrate Halloween?
Yes and no.
Halloween is a subject that Australians are divided over. Some Australians believe it is another great excuse to celebrate and have fun – not like we need an excuse or anything. Others may feel that it isn’t an Australian celebration.
As a result, when Halloween comes around, you’ll see some brilliantly decorated homes as well as many that are not. You may see a few trick-or-treaters out and about, but many people will choose to stay home.
Many neighbourhoods with small children will often participate in Halloween celebrations. But other areas with older demographics may ignore this day all together.
Why don’t some Australians want to celebrate Halloween?
Some Australians seem to be very against celebrating this day in Australia. This is because some view Halloween as an American tradition, and thus celebrating this day is accepting American culture over our own.
Rejecting Halloween could be seen as rejecting American culture and protecting our own unique Australian culture.
Some have suggested that Australia’s rejection of Halloween stems back to the Victorian era and the forsaking of indulgence. But when you talk to many Aussies, most just plainly say that it’s an American holiday and not for us.
The history of Halloween
Halloween is a contraction of “All Hallows Evening” and is a day that has been celebrated all over the world under a number of different names.
There is a school of thought that links modern Halloween celebrations back to the Celtic festival Samhain, which is an ancient pagan celebration. Samhain was held at the end of the harvest season and marked the descent into the darker half of the year. During this time, it was suggested that the divide between the world of the living and world of the supernatural shifted and that mystical creatures could more easily come into the human and living realm. This could be the spooky origin of our modern-day Halloween.
There is also said to be some influence from Christian celebrations. In Christianity, 1 November is a holy day called All Hallows Day, making 31 October All Hallows Eve. In addition, 2 November is called All Souls Day. These days were a time to honour the dead and saints. It is believed that during the 700s Christian beliefs merged somewhat with Celtic beliefs and All Hallows Eve merged with Samhain and began to more closely resemble the celebration we have today.
Another celebration linked to Halloween is the Mexican festival of the Day of the Dead, which is celebrated on 2 November, the same day as All Souls Day in early Christianity. The Day of the Dead traditions come from pre-Colombian cultures, celebrated in the ninth month of the Aztec calendar. It is believed that this day dates back 2,500-3,000 years. During the Day of the Dead festival, many people will dress up, decorate their homes, walk the streets and remember friends and family members who have died. It is very possible that this ancient celebration has, over time, influenced and shaped the Halloween celebrations that we have today.
Trick-or-treating etiquette in Australia for Halloween
If you plan on trick-or-treating in Australia or you want to hand out lollies to trick-or-treaters, there are a few things you should consider:
- Try and stick to areas that have other trick-or-treaters. If you see lots of other trick-or-treaters out on the street, it’s likely that this is a Halloween-friendly neighbourhood. You’ll have better luck here.
- Choose houses with decorations. Since many Australians reject Halloween, choosing houses with decorations is a good indicator of those who are happy to accept trick-or-treaters.
- Try not to disturb people during dinnertime. Many people find doorbell ringers of any kind very offensive during dinnertime. Keep this in mind.
- Don’t trick-or-treat too late in the evening. Be mindful that Halloween often occurs on a weekday and many people need their sleep. Try to do your trick-or-treating earlier rather than later.
- A costume is a must. If you want to trick-or-treat, you’ll need a costume. Otherwise, you’re just asking strangers for candy.
- Inspect your candy. Parents of young children, or you yourself, should inspect your lollies carefully before eating them. This can stop those with allergies from consuming something potentially unsafe.
For accepting trick-or-treaters:
- Wrapped lollies are best. Pre-wrapped candy is a lot more hygienic when you have lots of little hands rifling through candy bowls.
- Put up some decorations. If you’re willing to accept trick-or-treaters, maybe put up a decoration or two on your door so kids and parents know that they can knock at your place.
- Be mindful of allergies. It’s always kind to stay away from nut-based or gluten-based candy given the prevalence of allergies in western society. Kids often won’t read the labels before eating their candy.
If you want to celebrate Halloween this year, here’s all the inspiration and costumes ideas you need:
Top stores to buy Halloween costumes
Take the fuss out of Halloween and buy a costume from one of our favourite costume stores
Cheapest stores to buy basics for Halloween costumes
Looking for a plain white tee to tear up? Or maybe you need a cheap pair of gloves to match your costume? Well then check out these stores.
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Feature images: Shutterstock