Halloween lost in translation

By Laura Briggs

It’s come to that time of the year again where giant pumpkins and creepy costumes begin taking over our supermarkets.

It seems to come around all too fast. It feels like just a month ago I was thinking last year’s Halloween had come around too quickly.

And every year I can’t help but wonder why Halloween has even been made a thing around here.

Halloween as we now know it is a modern American interpretation of how the Irish celebrated All Hallows’ Eve — itself a more modern interpretation of an ancient Celtic festival.

We are Australian. I am not seeing the connection.

Is it inspired here by the American-made movies that often include Halloween events? Or is it another way for retailers to up their sales with scary masks and fake blood?

In the movies, every kid in town is walking the streets at night in their costumes, loading up on candy — as they call it.

I guess I can see the appeal to young kids; if I think back to being a kid, I would rarely pass up an opportunity to stock up on lollies and sweets.

But the forced efforts to bring that to Australia do not seem to have achieved the same Halloween that is represented in the movies. I mean, it’s not quite the same when a few kids ring your doorbell in their Nike summer clothing and are speechless when you say ‘‘trick’’. Clearly the movies have focused more on the ‘treat’ than the ‘trick’ part of the deal.

It is not often I encourage people to give up on something, but I think the minority who continue pushing to keep the whole Halloween thing going here should probably consider it.

There are a few contributing factors as to why the attempt to make Halloween a thing here in Australia seems like a joke ... but most importantly and ironically, in a place where we are trying to promote healthy lifestyles and educate children about ‘stranger danger’, why are we sending kids out to collect sugar from strangers?

Another question is, why has Halloween — a day of approaching strangers to collect sugar — crept its way into our country while Thanksgiving — an equally recognised tradition in the United States which is devoted simply to showing gratitude — is never even heard about?

As an extremely blessed country where most of us have access to everything we could ever need and far more, where we are safe without fear of major terrorist attacks or mass shootings, where we have freedom to pursue whatever it is we choose ... Australians, more than those from most other nations, have every reason to be thankful.

Too often I think we take many things in life for granted out of familiarity. For a high percentage of Australians, it is all we have ever known.

As a country I think we often need to stop, recognise and appreciate just how blessed we are.

It becomes very easy in the hustle of life to float through extended periods of time, reaping the benefits of the many blessings we are presented with without stopping to think about how lucky we are to be in such a position.

But I think those who are willing to stop and be thankful naturally welcome and even attract positivity.

November 22 is Thanksgiving.

Regardless of whether or not it is a recognised tradition in Australia, I will be celebrating and expressing my gratitude.

Because, as Oprah Winfrey said: ‘‘Be thankful for what you have; you’ll end up having more. If you concentrate on what you don’t have, you will never, ever have enough.’’

Laura Briggs is a cadet journalist at The News.