Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Trick Or Treat?

It’s not enough that we will have to prepare ourselves for the onslaught of pre-teenagers likely to show up at our front door this weekend demanding “trick or treat”, now there is even an activist group calling for Halloween to be made an official holiday. Members of the so-called “Halloween Institute” yesterday marched from Martin Place to Parliament House hoping that Kristina Keneally might heed their call for another day off to be added to the calendar. While I suspect that they are unlikely to be successful in their quest, it does demonstrate just how much impact this American tradition has been having on our own culture in recent years.

Of course, there are plenty of Australians who continue to object to the whole event, considering it to be an American activity of no relevance to Australia. Some go so far as to abuse the children who dare to knock at their door, telling them to go away in language which should not be heard by minors. Equally, there have sometimes been some overly enthusiastic kids who have harassed and harangued residents who refuse to participate. But on the whole, most people have responded in a good natured, if sometimes bemused, manner. In some respects it is surprising that it hasn’t caught on sooner, given the influence of American films and television shows over the last fifty years.

While there might be legitimate concerns about very young children knocking on the doors of total strangers after dark, I’m sure that with a little common sense we can all come to terms with this annual event. With appropriate supervision, and a reasonable curfew, there’s no reason why kids can’t have a bit of fun, and for the rest of us to relax and go with the flow. But, despite the efforts of the Halloween Institute, it is likely to be quite some time before Australia embraces the event quite as whole-heartedly as the Americans, where it is not only a cultural institution, but a mammoth marketing event with families shelling out about $2.4 Billion for costumes and candy.

Maybe that’s the real reason the Halloween Institute wants us all to embrace the occasion.

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