Whose Tradition?

October 27, 2012 at 8:17 pm | Posted in Australia, Family, History, Society, Special Occasions | 8 Comments
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Halloween, a corruption of All Hallows Eve, is celebrated on the 31st of October each year. It comes the day before All Saints’ Day, celebrated on the 1st of November.

Centuries ago in England and, later, in America, it was believed that the souls of the dead appeared among the living. Superstitious rituals grew up as people sought to protect themselves from the evil souls that had not died in a state of grace.

Over the years and into the 20th century, Halloween mostly lost its religious significance. It has now become, as have many other Christian rituals, a secular celebration of over-indulgence on the dark side.

Australia, because it was settled later than the Americas, and in more enlightened times, didn’t become part of the mania of Halloween until quite recently. And the only reason it has done so now is because of a different god – one created in the 20th century.

Multinational stores have extended their grip into our country, bring with them their sacred rituals for placing more, and yet more profits on the altar of Consumerism.

Now, every October, we are bombarded by the spooky: books, blogs and writing contests on the themes of ghosts, ghouls and gremlins; ads for creepy costumes and party gear; and whole stores full of “candy” – chocolates and lollies and every other sweet thing that can be created by man for sale to the gullible.

As if we don’t already have a sugar-coated and sugar-centred society! Dentists for the well-off rub their hands in glee. However, the people who cannot afford to go to a dentist – but the most likely to buy into this cacophonous culture of cash – are left with blackened and rotten teeth. I suppose that is apt, given the dark and sickly nature of Halloween’s origins.

When my children were young, in the 1970s and 1980s, Halloween had not yet caught hold in Australia – for which I am very grateful. But now, it is my grandchildren who are being coerced into a culture that celebrates darkness and consumerism.

I will not support this imported, destructive ritual. When children come to my door crying “trick or treat”, they get neither.

It is not my tradition!

© Linda Visman


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  1. I agree with you, Linda! It has been a popular tradition overseas for centuries and that’s fine but it’s not ours and only driven by consumerism. Like you, my children grew up in the 70s and 80s, so I never had to worry about it but it will be an issue in the years to come for my baby grandson and any future grandchildren. We live out of town so don’t have children knocking on our door but I get really annoyed when I see the huge push from shops.

    • When our kids were young we lived out of town for most of the time, and then in a small town. That did make it easier to avoid thetemptations! I think it is a lot more difficult these days. 😦

  2. Thanks for a very interesting and informing topic which fills me in with I didn’t know about Halloween or should it be called hell-o-ween. The same is very much the same here in Japan. It has only been since about 10 years when this foul custom took off. I hate seeing kids get their sugar fix part and results them being on edge, not to mention their teeth. Yui went to such a party last night and came back a back pack full of sweets. Part of the modern indoctrination to being a good kid ie one who consumes lots of junk, not just sweets but also toys and other useless things which help inculcate the idea of materialism and that one can never be satisfied that they have every thing they need- the spoilt brat syndrome. TV has a large part to play because it uses real images which stick in our brain better than just the old radio. I often think that it’s about time that we reconnected with each other by throwing our TVs away. With the internet we have much more control over the amount of commercials they are able to watch, especially with things like You Tube. We would also learn to be more sociable again and confident and losen how we are controlled by the TV and move to a society where we are not so materialistic and more concious of how we affect the environment. I am shocked at how it seems that TV is becoming more and more right-wing, the destruction of the rights of the individual and how the needs of advertisers are pampered to so much. I remember studying advertising in High School and when I look back realise how shallow it was. Was it because big business didn’t want to realise how adverse it’s effects on society are.  The worst thing about it is that advertising is tax deductible. What do you think? Paul


    • It is a real problem for parents, Paul. The kids want whatever they see others having or what’s on TV (and other places too).
      I think it is up to the parents to exercise the control over what their kids actually get. The main thing is to try to teach them the value of earning the stuff they want, instead of just letting them have it. Do you remember having to do some work around the house so you could get pocket money? 🙂
      What you say about the advertisers’ control is partly true – it is the changes in society and in communications (eg TV, the internet, etc) that have made the power of the wealthy more apparent. It has always been there – but it is now openly pushed down our throats.
      We just have to do what we can to resist it, and create an environment for our families that encourages values based on caring for each other, and an ability to understand when we are being taken advantage of.
      All the best with your precious little one. 🙂

  3. We are getting peer pressured into this (seems big in our part of Sydney) and not really happy about it.

  4. The marketing time is perfect. It is just before the 1st of November so as soon as this one has finished in comes Santa! Apparently there needs to be a reason to sell rubbish 365 days of the year!

    I thought your post put halloween in exactly the right context is should be seen in Australia.

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