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Halloween Upside Down: An American in Australia

Halloween in Australia

The Halloween display at the grocery store… desperately trying to lure in the weary Australian consumers…

It was only hard the first few years…

It’s not just Halloween day, it’s the nostalgia of autumn, crunchy leaves, that annoying wood burning stove smell from the neighbor’s house, bundling up, drinking hot chocolate, high school soccer season, cheerleaders (I wasn’t one, but come on, it’s America!), black and orange, rah rah rah, my high school colors! My mom made me the cutest Halloween costumes when I was really little, a pumpkin, a crayon, a princess, a girl from My House on the Prairie (she really got her sewing on!). September and October may just be the only two months of there year where you get some decent weather on the east coast of America. Not too hot, not too cold, not too humid… just right… Even after I moved away from my hometown of Hackettstown, New Jersey and spent much of time on the Eastern Shore of Maryland, it was still much the same. The only difference was that by then, I had gotten into sailing and surfing, so autumn meant that the water started getting cold. And, we were crazy, we would just put on our wetsuits, neoprene boots, hood and gloves and carry on as usual!

I also spent a couple Halloweens in Hawaii, one on Oahu and one on Maui. They don’t really have the same weather thing going on, but the feeling was still there, the decorations, and the Halloween parades! OMG! If you ever want to see thousands of crazy people dressed up as anything (and a few were actually very much undressed), you have to spend a Halloween in Hawaii! Many people presently also celebrate Halloween by watching horror movies to get the eerie feeling that Halloween is known for. If you are someone who enjoys watching movies, particularly horror films, you may want to visit sites like to learn about the latest upcoming films that might be released in theaters so that you can plan ahead of time which movie you’d most probably watch during the Halloween season.

Anyway, interestingly, there’s something called Mischief Night, the night before Halloween, when the whole neighborhood gets toilet papered, egged and shaving creamed. Kids put flaming bags of poo on people’s porches so that when the person goes to stomp out the fire.. well… Really, that really did happen! It’s not just from the movies! Does it still happen in Hackettstown, New Jersey? Maybe my friends from home will tell me, ‘Yes, it does! Kids are still creative enough to get into a bit of mischief!‘. I hope so, at least it means kids are out doing something rather than sitting on their butts glued to facebook.

The worst part about Halloween is the day after… November 1st…. November! November!!! Ahhh!!!! This is when the days get stupid short and your entire world turns cold, brown and slate gray for the next five months. The only thing to save you is looking forward to Thanksgiving… Christmas…. New Years…. then winter really sets in. Something about January is really depressing. It means that for the next grueling three months, it’s nothing but bitter cold. No holidays (Ok, Valentine’s Day cheers things up a bit). Ice. Snow. If you’re a surfer, you know that January through May, are the coldest and most miserable months in the water. I’m not kidding, we used to surf in that stuff. I know a few of my friends reading this still do surf in that stuff, and they know exactly what I’m talking about. Brain freeze, frozen fingers and toes, icey cold water flushing through your wetsuit on a good wipeout, struggling to unlock your car because a) your fingers are numb and b) your car lock is frozen. Ok, the lineup is usually empty and that’s about the only saving grace to being a die hard winter time surfer! I always joke that my worst wipeout EVER was as I was walking back to my car in February, after a freezing cold session and I did a classic, slip on black ice, fly up in the air and landed square on my arse!

So, anyway, Halloween in Australia is a funny thing. For some reason, the commercialism just hasn’t set in here. The holiday is gaining popularity, but slowly. The stores have been trying really hard for years to lure people in to buying Halloween junk, but the Aussies are a bit suspicious, AS THEY SHOULD BE! To them, the commercialism is an American thing, and most of them are not really into it. People here don’t see the point. And, I don’t blame them. You see, Halloween is a seasonal thing. Pumpkins, apples, witches, goblins… it just doesn’t match up. October in Australia is Spring! It’s stone fruit and mango season! It’s getting hot! No bundling up, instead you’re stripping down. The days aren’t getting shorter, they’re getting longer!

Pregnant Halloween costume

Second Halloween in Australia. That’s Margo in there! My little basketball!

The first few years, I missed Halloween sorely. I made sure to go to all of my American friend’s Halloween parties. The year I was pregnant with Margo, I had a fun time dressed up like a basketball player… Margo being the basket ball. Last year, I even hosted my own party. It was pretty good, I must say. I dressed Art, Margo and myself all up as bees. Invited a bunch of people and we all had a blast. Mostly everyone came dressed up. Another funny thing is that most Australians think that Halloween is supposed to only be scary. Of course the origins of Halloween are supposed to be a bit spooky, but in America, we all know that any costume goes, and the more creative you get, the better the costume.

Mrs. Bee and Baby Bee

I even got a bit crazy and wore my Mrs. Bee costume to work last year on Halloween. The people at the high school where I was working were not really impressed. Almost all of them looked at me like, ‘Why are you dressed up like a bee?’. I was like, ‘Duh, it’s Halloween!’. The kids in my year 11 chemistry class were like, ‘Miss… we can’t pay attention because your bee antennae made of pipe cleaners are bouncing up and down‘. I set off that morning, enthusiastically dressed like a bee and intentionally left my normal clothes at home, that way I wouldn’t have the chance to wimp out if I started feeling stupid for dressing up… Let’s just say, I was the only person in the entire high school who was dressed up, and I did get more than a few sideways glances throughout the day… Oh well.. I sent Margo to kindy dressed up as Baby Bee. The kindy girls all thought it was cool and even some of the other kids there were dressed up.

This is our fifth Halloween in Australia. I’m not having a party this year. I’m slightly over it, and not even sad to miss it. It doesn’t feel like Halloween! I can’t pretend any longer! You can buy a carving pumpkin at the store for $3 a kilo (that’s like $6 a pound, crazy, right). Two days after you carve your pumpkin here, it gets moldy, because October on the Gold Coast of Australia is hot and humid! Having a two month old is another slight deterrent to hosting a Halloween party. Nobody cares about your Halloween costume because Halloween barely exists! There are a few neighborhoods around here who have tricker treating, but it’s an organized event! You have to chat with all your neighbors and make sure they whole hood knows what’s going. It’s not like in America, just turn your porch light on if you’re home.

I don’t even feel like Margo and Goldie will be ‘missing out’ on Halloween from growing up in Australia. I guess they will just have different things to remind them of their childhood… not crunchy leaves and wood burning stoves. But you know what is really strange about Australia… that’s Christmas upside down… but that’s a whole ‘nother story! Happy Halloween!

Halloween in Australia

The Bee Family.. get it.. Baltrotsky… ‘B’, aren’t I so creative 😉

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