This week I received some distressing news from home.
According to my mother, her local supermarket has been overrun by pumpkins, bedsheets with eyes painted on and crappy bits of plastic in the shape of skeletons in an effort to get people to buy sugary “treats”.
If you have no idea why that would be then congratulations, you're still Australian. If your eyes lit up when you read that and you shrieked “HALLOWEEN!” then congratulations, you're probably still under 25 (it's fun being young, isn't it?). But I'm sorry, you will have to hand your citizenship back.
As I suspect most young Australians know, tomorrow – October 31st - is Halloween. According to legend, this is the day on which the barrier between the living and the dead is at its thinnest, and restless ghosts and ghouls roam the earth in search of spiritual redemption, and young girls dress up as sexy nurses and get drunk on alcopops.
I say “young” Australians will know this because for generations, we Aussies haven't gone in for Halloween. Carving pumpkins and dressing up in stupid outfits when you don't even get a day off just seemed a little too much like work to us. Not to mention the whole idea of an event in which strangers are encouraged to give lollies to children is more than a bit dodgy these days.
"And what the bloody hell am I supposed to do with this?"
But it seems the cultural creep has started and along with bad sitcoms and giant sneakers, Australia is starting to adopt yet another bit of Americana. And as our most voracious media consumers, kids, teens and 20-somethings are the first to be infected by the Halloween bug, thanks to endless US TV shows and movies about it.
Speaking as someone who now lives next door to a 365-days-a-year Halloween shop (no, I'm not making that up) I say – AUSTRALIA, GET HOLD OF YOURSELF! You don't need Halloween! It is a bogus festival that, like so many others, has strayed from its simple beginnings to become yet another celebration of mass consumerism.
As in America, the driving force behind Halloween in Australia appears to be the large supermarket chains that will welcome any opportunity to make you buy more crap you don't need. “A festival that forces people to buy chocolate that ISN'T Easter? Brilliant!”
Not even Americans understand the origins of the event, beyond carving out pumpkins and eating candy. They barely even understand the concept of Thanksgiving, which is why one recently expressed surprise when I said Australians didn't celebrate it. (See, we didn't have any starving pilgrims or turkeys and... oh, never mind).
If you want to dress up as a zombie Amy Winehouse (and PS: if you are, you're so unoriginal, EVERYONE is doing that this year) and party with your mates on Halloween then sure, why not. It seems that horse has bolted anyway.
But come on Australia, let's at least nip this whole “trick or treat” thing in the bud while we still can. The more kids that start wandering the neighbourhood asking for sweets each year, the more pressure everyone will feel to stock up and spend more at the checkout, and the more crappy plastic jack-o-lanterns will start appearing in our supermarkets every year. Do we really want another day on the calendar owned by big business, just because we liked the idea of dressing up?
Plus, have you tried “candy corn”? It's disgusting.
To Halloween – Australia says no.
This article was first published in the Adelaide Sunday Mail's Sunday liftout on October 30, 2011.