Monday, November 3, 2008

Halloween Down Under

Halloween is a major festival in North America. You couldn't move around New York City on 31 October without knowing it was Halloween. It was like Mardi Gras. The harvest festival tradition was brought to North America by Irish and Scottish immigrants in the nineteenth century. Our family lived in Toronto many years back where we were introduced to the celebration. My daughter Bex has re-created the experience at home in Auckland New Zealand. Here is Bex on her latest Halloween adventure. KR.

Halloween – that special night of the year that all kids love! My first introduction to Halloween was when we lived in Toronto and I was six years old. It’s a huge event in North America and you get to enjoy it for the whole day. All the kids are allowed to go to school in their fancy dress and they have a parade and tea party.

The excitement continues as soon as you come home from school and have the fun of going trick-or-treating. Since it’s autumn in Canada in October, the dark night adds to the excitement. We lived in a really family oriented neighborhood and as well as dressing up, everyone dressed up their houses too. We even had a neighbor who themed the downstairs of her house as a haunted house and allowed all the kids to roam round and “be scared”. Another great thing was the way most of the parents dressed up as well. We always decorated the front of our house with carved, lit pumpkins, skeletons and ghosts, and we also had a music cassette which played ghostly, haunted music just to add to the atmosphere. It was so much fun knocking on the doors as they always got answered, even by families who didn’t have children. By the end of the evening, each of us used to have a pillowcase full of chocolate and sweets!

This year I thought I would relive the fun I had in Canada and host my own Halloween party. I decorated the downstairs of my house with cobwebs, spiders, skeletons, fake blood on the floor, tombstones and bloody handprints on the walls. We also had a table spread with chocolates, candy, marshmallow ghosts, black cats and pumpkins (all helped by the fact Mum had just been to L.A. and raided Target). There were also vodka jelly shots with gummi bears and, of course, a big bowl of punch.

Adam and I dressed up as Wilma and Fred Flintstone (handy as I'm a redhead). All my friends really got into the spirit of the occasion and dressed as Patrick Bateman, Minnie Mouse, Peg and Al Bundy and all the characters from The Wizard of Oz. We also had a couple of vampires, Catwoman, Little Red Riding Hood, Poison Ivy, Hillary Clinton...the list goes on. Although we had no trick-or-treaters, it was so much fun seeing all the effort everyone had put into their costumes. Halloween has never been a big holiday for us in New Zealand so I’ve decided I’m going to make it an annual celebration. I’m looking forward to recycling all the Target decorations and doing it all over again next year!