I love the dark stuff. I love ghost and witches, vampires and werewolves, folk horror, the supernatural and everything spooky in between. I was a goth for gawd’s sake, brought up on a healthy diet of the Cure, Twin Peaks and black eyeliner in a place known for it’s own brand of gothic literature.
And yet, I have real troubles with Halloween as a celebration.
Maybe it’s cos I’m Australian.
As a child, Halloween was always this American thing, really Sesame Street. No one did trick or treating or dressed-up. But now, I walk the streets of my inner city leftie Green-voting suburb and a bunch of houses are decorated in anticipation of Halloween. While I have to admit, the houses do look cool, this seems to be another excuse for selling lollies and costumes. Yes, I know. It’s just a bit of fun. Maybe I’m officially an old curmedgeon.
Halloween in Spring offends my inner pagan. I live in the Southern Hemisphere and Halloween at the beginning of spring really doesn’t make sense. On my side of the planet, we should be celebrating Beltane now, with the birth of new life; lambs and blooms and bonfires, not the end of summer with corn, pumpkins and the waning daylight hours as the nights begin to close in.
The same could be said about Christmas (let’s not talk about my problem with Christmas in July – perhaps I’m just a general Grinch) but Christmas in Australia has taken on its own traditions; seafood and BBQ rather than roast dinners, a day on the beach or backyard cricket. Although, Christmas in Hobart does on occasion need an open fire for warmth.
Perhaps we need our own Australian style Halloween. Time to celebrate the Bunyip, the Yowie and the ghosts of convicts?
Halloween is not only about the end of the harvest and the beginning of winter. It is also a day where the veil between the spirit world and our world is thin. It is a day when the dead are celebrated and remembered. Perhaps this aspect of Halloween and other similar festivals like Day of the Dead resonate more with me.
Yet it doesn’t seem right at a time of year when the sun is shining, warmth is returning and the days are growing longer.
So I won’t be decorating my house for Halloween or handing out lollies, I’ll be too busy wrestling with my inner Halloween Grinch. Perhaps instead I’ll take a moment to honour the people who have left this world instead and dance round my lounge room to Siouxsie and the Banshees.