I shut my eyes and woke up in Americatown

Something very bizarre happened to me today.

I was walking home and I noticed two small children wandering the streets. One was dressed as a fairy, the other as a witch.

Most of you probably encountered something similar. Most of you probably don’t live west of the Aleutian Islands.

You see, in Australia, we don’t celebrate Hallowe’en. Well, so I thought. Sure, there was a very small display at the store I work at, but it was more about selling chocolate than ghosts, goblins or cherubic youngsters saying “trick-or-treeeet!”

However, I’m only nineteen. When I was at primary school, which wasn’t that long ago, we didn’t have parades, we didn’t go beg the neighbours for candy, we didn’t dress up in scary costumes. It was not part of us - it was an American thing. We didn’t do the Superbowl, either.

I can also pretty confidently say that there are no parades in schools or anything like that now.

But, for the first time, we had knocks on our door and small children saying to us “trick or treat!!!” like they’d been imported direct from Columbus, Ohio.

Like I said, we don’t do Hallowe’en in Australia. That was what the Simpsons did. It was what Ramona Quimby did when she dressed up as the baddest witch, and although it did sound fun, it sounded fun in Oregon, rather than the sort of fun you’d have in New South Wales.

So we had no candy to give them. We didn’t have any lollies either, which is what we call those little sugary things, but I’m feeling like I should be saying candy because that’s apparently what one gets on Hallowe’en.

But these kids hadn’t gone to much of an effort. The first pair who came to the door weren’t in costume. Which made me even more indignant (oh, so you can’t even dress up when imitating a foreign culture. nice. real nice). Some later were costumed, but I would have felt ever so stupid cooing ‘oh, don’t you look adorable!’ and besides, we still didn’t have any candy… lollies.

Now, don’t get me wrong, I’ve got nothing against Hallowe’en. If I’d been somewhere in America this year I would have been so excited at seeing it all. It would enhance the specialness considering it’s a cultural concept that I would have never experienced before. But in Australia it just makes me feel like I’d better start learning the pledge of allegiance and owning a gun. What’s next? Had I better start preparing for next Thanksgiving or President’s Day? Is my city going to have a 4th of July parade?

And really, Newcastle isn’t the sort of place for hallowe’en. Approaching the Australian summer, with the smell of barbeques in the air and flies buzzing around your head, nothing could be further from the spooky ambience of cold air, bare branches and early darkness I feel befits an American-style Hallowe’en.

So, I’ll admit it, this is a pretty low-key rant for the pit. But I’m not even sure how to feel about this. It’s not so much anger as a feeling of disappointment that something that is so obviously not a part of our culture is being forced onto it, through a combination of our high exposure to US media products and probably our savvy kids who noticed a good chance for lollies… er… candy and jumped at it.

It’s odd. I usually don’t mind so called ‘Americanisation,’ seeing it rather as the natural interactions between cultures. I’m more concerned about the food at McDonalds than its country of origin. But this rubs me the wrong way.

So what’s the story? Is my sense of sadness reasonable at my cultures imminent further ‘Americanisation’, or have I become a crotchety old grouch before I’ve reached my twenties?

Oh, and a quick question, when American kids are told not to take candy from strangers, do you add the rider ‘except on Hallowe’en?’

As per the candy from strangers thing, yeah, pretty much. But it should be noted that not only do a lot of parents confiscate and inspect before doling out to the kiddies, hospitals in many cities make their radiology departments available for x-raying candy to check for foreign objects.

I suggest you do your level best to stamp this out now, or in a couple more years you’ll have people putting up ten foot high, floodlit Jack-o-lanterns in their front gardens. You’ve been warned.

Oh, and there’s usually a rash of the uncostumed over here, too. In my experience, they tend to be teenagers who are obviously well beyond the usual age range for trick-or-treating. I always want to say something like “If you can grow a beard, you can buy your own candy,” but I don’t.

Well, me and Astrogirl have had abortive attempts at trick-or-treating here in Korea… with mixed results.

Not three hours ago, we knocked on a coworker’s door. AG looked HOT in her genie costume! Said coworker opened the door, AG said, “Gimme candy!” I corrected her on the proper begging etiquette…

And my coworker replied, “I don’t have any candy! Go bug somebody else!”

Some people have no holiday spirit!:wink:

Well, consider it delayed payback for inflicting on the US Paul Hogan, Dame Edna, Yahoo Serious, and that annoyingly loud fellow in the 1980’s Energizer commericials, “The New Energizah, it’ll surprise ya!”

First off, as an Aussie-American I am on the fence here, but I do need to ask - do people really believe the Americans force their culture upon others? I daren’t say that no-one put a gun to station manager’s head and say “You MUST air American television and play American music and videos!” They wouldn’t be aired if there wasn’t a demand.

A strange comment from someone (and I’m not singling you out as I’ve heard this from others) from someone who chooses to expose themself to American culture even further via a predominantly American message board on the internet.
Just my two cents.

And for the record, I love both cultures! :slight_smile:

So the Irish never brought the tradition to Oz?

Strange we usually enforce our crap on everyone like it or not. Just look at Paddy’s day :eek:

If people enjoy it and have fun, why not adopt the custom? Surely you are not going to dislike it simply because it is from America? That would be bigotry, would it not?

So the Irish never brought the tradition to Oz?

Strange we usually enforce our crap on everyone like it or not. Just look at Paddy’s day :eek:

Yeah, but that has drinking. Find some way to fit drinking into Halloween, and it’ll be a lot more popular.

We didn’t get any trick or treaters but a couple went by my boyfriend’s house. Halloween isn’t a big thing here, and I’d venture that the vast majority of people aren’t prepared for kids appearing on their doorstep in costume (although I’m sure most people could find some impromptu junk food to give). Unfortunately for the trick or treaters, my boyfriend’s house is not such a place. The first two kids that arrived were the lucky ones - they got an Oreo each. But that was all they had left, and the other ones that came had to settle for seaweed crackers.

I remember a very small minority of people doing this here in the late 70s. I don’t think it’s any more popular now. And no, I don’t give them any lollies.

In my neighborhood, a lot of the people giving out candy have things like jello shooters, etc. to give to the adults. Wanna come over tonight?

You’re kidding me right?

Parties=drink, bonfires=drink, getting dressed up and acting the dick=drink, 15year old terrorising the neighbourhood=drink (in fields then off you go)

My young life was all about getting as much drink and fireworks as possible to have a great night. Over here the dressing up and going around, we say “Help the Halloween Party” rather than “Trick or Treat” BTW is only part of the deal.

Anything involving people = drink. Welcome to Ireland hic

Dress up, and then trick or treat round each house for pints. Bring round an empty pint glass and get it filled at each house. Drink it before you get to the next one. Anyone who refuses gets previously collected beer ‘recycled’ onto their doorstep.

And for anyone not enjoying a few nice big bangs tonight :wink:


Now I’m torn between dressing up as an Australian homeowner, complete with seaweed crackers, and dressing up as an Irish Halloweener, complete with pint glass and thirst.

Decisions, decisions…

Is Halloween even an exclusively American thing? I remember my mother telling me that she went “trick-or-treating” in Glasgow during her childhood in the 1950’s. Of couse, it was somewhat different – she got small bits of money instead of candy, and had to “work” (by singing or doing something like that) but the principle is the same… even here, they give money occasionally, and as you can see, we expect entertainment from the kiddies being dressed up.

I’m suspect the custom is older than us Americans are, even if we did popularize it the most and associate it with Oct. 31.


Tanaqui here’s a very good history of Halloween originally posted by Weirddave in another thread.


It’s not an American thing although as you said you’ve kind of made it your own(well your version of it anyway)