If you have kids or have been to any local shopping center recently, you might be aware that Halloween is a thing these days in Canberra.
Halloween hit my radar a couple of years ago when my children somehow found out about this American holiday and started pestering me that it was something that we should celebrate. I was at best skeptical, and at worst hostile. I wasn’t keen at all to get involved in a celebration that seemed outside our culture and seemed to be a religious festival that had been co-opted by capitalism. I wasn’t keen to get involved in something that needed money, time and resources – more often than not on a school night in the middle of a busy period for family life. I was more than a little disconcerted about an activity that seemed to celebrate the macabre and the gruesome.
Having said this, it’s hard to disappoint kids. My children’s desires coincided with moving into a neighbourhood that seemed to embrace this event. One day, some fliers magically appeared that suggested if we wanted to partake, it was as easy as sticking the flier on the letterbox to enable kids to know they would be welcome to knock on doors and be greeted with friendly faces and lollies and sweets. Some whispered conversations on the playground with parents who were similarly being pressured resulted in bringing us to a consensus that we would give it a go and see what the fuss was all about.
Well, let’s just say one trip out and I was convinced! Overlooking the over-indulgence of sweet things, I am charmed by the opportunity that Halloween provides us to connect with neighbours in a way that we rarely get to do as part of our busy everyday lives. At a time of the year where we are still relishing the beginning of daylight saving and warmer weather, I thoroughly enjoy being out engaging with my neighbours and friends. It is wonderful to see the streets filled with children and young people having fun and exploring their neighbourhood. It is lovely to see neighbours who have moved past the child-rearing stage go out of their way to treat our children. It is always a pleasant surprise to knock on a door and discover an old friend or colleague who you didn’t know has moved into the neighborhood.
Since our first trip out, I have discovered that the fliers don’t magically appear but the unspoken handing of the baton happens smoothly as one family’s kids are more ‘in the zone’ of Halloween. I have discovered tricks like pre-trick-or-treat dinner can mitigate some of the excesses. I have discovered it’s much better when the parents wear costumes as well. Most of all I have discovered that sometimes it’s OK to embrace a manufactured holiday, as community connection can be created from the most surprising places.
Halloween – do you love it, hate it or feel something between? What has been your experience of Halloween in Canberra? Let us know your thoughts by commenting below.