Crass commercialism! American excess! Hollywood bullshit! Pumpkin Spice Overload! I figure it was only right, what with my gung-ho-Hell-Yeah-HALLOWEENNESS, that I give time to those of you who find Halloween to be a big ol’ steaming heap o’ WTF.
Take my author and fellow Naughty Ninja Andra Ashe. Here are her thoughts on the Day of The Great Pumpkin:
“It’s not so much the celebration, that’s all fine and dandy and who doesn’t love dressing up? It’s that it’s an American thing, not an Aussie thing. We used to have Guy Fawkes night with bonfires and fireworks but that died in the arse and now we’re bloody ‘yankified’ and I’m not interested in any part of it. It so infuriates me when I see mums taking their kids around the streets ‘trick or treating’ In my head, I’m yelling, ‘if you want Halloween, go to America!’”
Author and Beanie Wearing Naughty Ninja Lily Malone has this to say:
“Last year I experienced the first of what I might consider ‘real’ Halloween. It freaked me out completely. It freaked my kids too because they’d never seen anything like it. There were scores of children rampaging the streets in various guises, ringing doorbells/knocking on doors and in some instances not so politely demanding loot. Not being prepared (having not given the day a thought), I had zero in the loot department, and I had kids telling me I was stingy. Soon, I refused to answer the door. There were very few adults to be seen. And it occurred to me: what kind of message do we send to our children all year about stranger danger, to then tell them to dress up in disguise and go knocking on the doors of strangers? This is what really disturbed me about Halloween. I also take issue with the whole treat/candy/lolly thing—along the same lines. ‘Want a candy, little girl? Come over to my car. I have a whole box full.’ What message is it to say: “don’t accept lollies from strangers,’ oh, unless it’s Halloween. Then it’s fine. IMHO, Halloween is a psychopath’s dream. Stay at home and wait with treats for all the little kiddies to come calling. But it’s very possible I’ve read way too many psycho-killer crime thrillers.”
Halloween is slowly, very slowly taking hold in Australia. There are decorations, masks, costumes, parties, CANDY (although candy corn is conspicuously absent)—and it’s on the shelf right next to the mother scratchin’ Christmas stuff, which I witnessed in stores on September 12th.
It seems odd that Halloween never took hold earlier in Australia, because like the USA, Australia has a massive Irish and Scottish heritage. And here’s where things get interesting. History tells us that Halloween has its roots in the Celtic festival Samhain, the end of the harvest season for ancient Gaelic culture—which perhaps explains all the pumpkins. Ancient Gaelic culture believed that 31st October opened, if you will, a portal between the living and the dead. Costumes and masks were worn to frighten off any evil spirits who were keen on spoiling the crops. But there’s also this about costumes, from Halloweenhistory.org
The practice of dressing up in costumes and begging door to door for treats on holidays goes back to the Middle Ages, and includes Christmas wassailing. Trick-or-treating resembles the late medieval practice of ‘souling,’ when poor folk would go door to door on Hallowmas (November 1), receiving food in return for prayers for the dead on All Souls Day (November 2). It originated in Ireland and Britain.
Yesiree, Bob. The Scots and Irish brought all that Gaelic Samhain festival goodness to America in the 19th Century. So look. If we’re gonna blame anyone for Halloween we really should look at Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander as an example of the whole portal between worlds on Samhain thing in action, and then, honestly, shouldn’t we blame Claire, Jamie Fraser, and all his mates?
The Americans, bless their apple and cherry pie hearts, simply took that festival, packaged it, made it bigger, and sold it because that’s what Americans do, and frankly, do well.
Hi I’m Sandra and I write smart-assed romantic comedies for grown-ups and smartasses. You can find my books here.