Face It, Australians Are Into Halloween Now

Face It, Australians Are Into Halloween Now

Three years ago, we ran a post on Lifehacker asking if Halloween mattered in Australia. With the spook-themed celebration/excuse for gorging a week away, it’s the relevant time to raise the question again, but it seems to me the answer is clearer now. If only as a retail occasion, Halloween now appears firmly embedded into the Australian calendar.

Picture: Getty Images

We haven’t quite reached the stage where workplaces will fill with people in costumes on 31 October before everyone heads out to Halloween parties. However, every major retail store will happily sell you Halloween-themed gear. It’s no longer a speciality indulged only by dedicated Yankeee enthusiasts.

What’s your take? Have you been converted to the joys of Halloween? Are you resisting because you think it’s un-Australian or just crassly commercial? Tell us in the comments.


  • This year is the first time we’re engaging in Halloween but only because of the kids.

    If it wasn’t for them, we wouldn’t bother but the kids get a kick out of dressing up and meeting other kids on the street so yeah sure.

    • The thing is, it’s far from the first. We used to celebrate Halloween, as it’s an English/Irish tradition, and we used to celebrate it with Gusto, back in the day – being mostly UK immigrants. We stopped, and now we’re starting again slowly.

  • I really wish as Australians that we stop adopting overseas traditions.

    Halloween being the one I despise the most mainly because we are Australians living in Australia. America is not Australia. In primary schools they teach about stranger danger and yet on one day a year they ignore all the teachings about stranger danger, for what, CANDY!!!

    In saying this though the local shopping center and council have a much better way of dealing with this in my area. Each year they put on a mini halloween event for the parents and kids to go to at the local shopping mall. Much safer environment for all concerned, then going round door knocking on strangers houses.

    • Honestly, the “stranger danger” factor is pretty minimal as long as you’re a responsible parent and ensure your children are properly supervised while trick or treating.

      You’re not sending them out to wander the neighbourhood and approach strangers alone and unsupervised are you? Good — no problem then! 😉

    • Yes, standards dropped so much when Australia introduced this foreign “Christmas” holiday. And don’t even get me started on this Easter business – buns with crosses on them? Searching for eggs? Madness!

      More work needs to be done in keeping Australia’s cultural identity pure and free from foreign influences. Now please excuse me, I’m going to play my didgeridoo.


      (and yes, obviously poking fun of the fact that pretty much all the traditions practiced in Australia are all adopted overseas traditions.)

      • All of the thing you mentioned are Christian holidays, as once upon a time Australia was built on strong Christian values. Halloween on the other hand is of Pagan origin and can’t even be remotely compared to the Birth of Christ and his death and resurrection.

        • I think if you dig a little deeper, you’ll find Christmas and Easter celebrations had pagan origins too!

        • *alleged Birth of Christ and his death and resurrection… I offer that as an illustration of the fact that your statement is not an objective one ie. Halloween can’t be compared to Christmas in your opinion. One of the benefits of living in an enlightened, non-denominational Western democracy is that people are allowed to hold different beliefs and to celebrate whatever holidays they damn well please.

          Whether or not Australia was founded on Christian values, only around 60% of the population now holds those beliefs so any argument against a holiday because it’s not ‘Christian’ is moot at best, and downright ignorant at worst (incidentally, scholars still debate whether Halloween is a Christianised Pagan ritual, or whether it was Christian all along… also, refer to Graya below).

          • Where did you get the 40% from?

            I don’t identify myself as a christian, but christian values (do no harm and the rest) are very important to a functioning society, not to mention they’re compatible with pretty much all religions. Unless you want to redefine it as ‘universal values’

          • That was meant to be 60%… as in 40% don’t hold that belief (fixed now).

            Totally agree with you on the idea of Christian/moral values being important to the functioning of a society. What I took issue with in lillee’s comment was the implied suggestion that holidays based on events in the Christian belief system are more legitimate than others ie. it shouldn’t make a bit of difference from which historical/religious background a holiday arose. This was the point kami was getting at with the comment that “pretty much all the traditions practiced in Australia are all adopted overseas traditions.”

          • finding old comment not likely to be read by other randoms to ask if @spyder is your name Dylan by any chance?

        • I admire the passion of your argument, but unfortunately for you, all notable Christian holidays are on Pagan holidays.
          I’m not wanting to start a fight, but just pointing out that both religions have found a way to live side by side for some years now.
          Let’s honour that tradition of good will.

          • I wonder if Harry Potter counts as a zombie if he mostly-but-didn’t quite die and came back to life.

        • That’s right, because There’s nothing remotely Christian about all Hallow’s eve or all Saints day.

          Incorporating the values of Christian philosophy into every day life doesn’t require one to celebrate samsara on Christmas and Easter exclusively (hint: samsara is the endless cycle of birth, life, death and resurrection that is depicted by Christians in the life of Jesus).

          That’s the great thing about living in a modern democracy founded upon the principles of Christian philosophy, because it allows individuals to celebrate life and death in the manner of their choosing. Ironically, this is a concept easily grasped by everyone except christians.

          Ultimately, the only difference between dressing up on Halloween and going to church on Sunday is that someone who chose to go to the party as Jesus has a firm intellectual grasp on reality and understands that he’s not really the son of god or the saviour of all humankind.

        • Xmas trees are descended from pagan rituals my dear. Personally I like Halloween. It’s a chance to face the things in life that scare you and embrace that fear.

    • While Halloween is viewed primarily as a Halloween tradition, it’s actually a Celtic / Pagan / Christian tradition, and is celebrated in other countries, such as Ireland. It goes by many names, and many places celebrate it differently, but it’s not an American-only holiday.

      Traditionally, trick-or-treating is done by children while in the company of parents. Anyone who is over the age of about 12, or is not in company of parents, is sent along their way. The rest of it, such as Halloween parties, spooky movies with your mates and all that jazz, is for anyone of any age, but going door-to-door is for little kids only, and with their parents or suitable guardians.

    • You are wrong on a whole bunch of levels. Just bear in mind that Halloween is Irish, and Americans used to mock and made fun of it when it was first imported there, too. Also: what’s wrong with getting to know the neighbours? If you really think that you are surrounded by dangerous paedophiles, you really should think about moving or calling the police.

    • Riiight. So the guy commenting on how he hates American traditions invading Australia then calls lollies “candy” and talks about going to the “mall”.

      • Heh. You noticed that too. I can understand candy but mall is just a flat out American term to me.

        I sort of agree though. I think it mostly just annoys me because it’s something that’s clearly been adopted through TV and the internet. I like costume parties and all that, and most of these holidays are pretty meaningless, but Halloween (and in particular the trick or treating side of it) just seems like a weird thing to take on later in life. It’s not like Australia parents are going ‘well, we send the kids out because we enjoyed it so much when we were their age’.

        I guess it just fills a void in the calendar where we don’t have any fun holidays.

    • The irony that both America and Australia as both former British colonies have then adopted their traditions, has been lost on you.

      Best strike these off your calendar too:
      Boxing Day
      New Years Day
      Valentines Day
      Queens Birthday
      Mothers/Fathers Day

      I believe that leaves you with Labour Day, Melbourne Cup and whatever state holiday you have.

    • Considering it’s an Irish-origin, UK-celebrated holiday, and we’re predominantly descended from UK immigrants, it’s not really adopting an overseas tradition. It’s picking up one we already had, but mostly didn’t celebrate.

      On top of that, it’s a bit of a silly complaint – EVERY tradition we have is an overseas tradition – Note all the “White christmas” themed stuff in a country that rarely sees snow outside of tiny areas down south, for example.

      Well, Other than Aboriginal traditions. And I don’t see many people dancing at the Coroboree anymore.

    • Halloween is fun. If something is fun I’m not going to let its nation of origin (NOT USA) stop me.

    • First off bringing the stranger danger scenario seriously?!? You can’t tell me you don’t know one of your neighbours and that is where the kids should be going down the st you live on secondly they should be accompanied by an adult and thirdly if something did happen it’s on the street you live in not hard to figure that out lastly it’s not American it’s European America made it main stream

    • dont be a bitch about kids dressing up WE HAVE A RIGHT TO DRESS UP IF WE WANT TO WHO CARES WHO TRADITION IT IS

    • In response to Marty, if you would like to stop overseas traditions, especially the commercialised ones, then start with McDonalds, Costco, Kmart, Dominos pizza, and reality TV. Because all of these are well and truly American…and traditional by now since they are so much the part of American life.

      • Many of the predominant reality TV formats originated in Europe rather than America (Big Brother, Idol, Dancing With The Stars, Masterchef just off the top of my head).

  • I remember trick and treating back in the 1970s. There is nothing new about Halloween in Australia, except perhaps that retailers have realised there is another ‘season’ to exploit.

    • I don’t know how much retailers are exploiting it. My local coles has one bin of halloween stuff plus a few lollies. while it has a whole side of an aisle for xmas stuff

  • I don’t think Australia is into Halloween but retail stores sure are wanting us too, which leads to young kids starting to ask about it.

    • Retailers are into it, but I think the demand comes from American TV and in particular American websites. For about a week it gets plastered into everything and it’s pretty fun, so it’s only natural people who spend a lot of time on the internet get into it. It’s not like the other American holidays where the internet just sort of slows down and shows reruns for a few days. If you spend a lot of time online you’re sort of part of it whether you like it or not (same goes with April Fools).

  • Nope. Still don’t do it, and never will.

    It makes no sense for Australians to celebrate Halloween (although having said that, it doesn’t really make much sense for Americans too either).

    • I agree, its not something that makes any sense for Australians to celebrate. Whilst I can see Halloween trending in Australia, it is not a classy celebration and I’m not putting it on my calendar.

      • Oh I say, Halloween is the most unclassy thing I could imagine! Just think about all those young things running around and having fun like common peasants. I for one think that a world without this ‘halloween’ thing would be absolutely smashing. Top ho!

    • Besides the fact that it is fun to dress up/watch horror films/have parties/get candy/give candy?


    • Couldn’t agree more with @whitepointer. Honestly, I’ve got no problem with ex-pats celebrating Halloween, but as far as I’m concerned it’s such an irrelevant and mindlessly commercial holiday here that I just can’t support it.

      Current predictions are that 65 per cent of young Australians will be overweight or obese by 2020. An increased uptake of a(nother) holiday primarily focused on acquiring and consuming large quantities of sugary foods really isn’t what our kids need.

  • I don’t give a flying rat’s rectum what other people do. I just want a nationally-accepted way of indicating, perhaps via letterbox sign, that my family isn’t into it.

    • In the US, the widely accepted rule is that if your front (porch) light is on, you’re welcome to trick-or-treaters at your door, and you’ll have candy. If you have the light on for other reasons (waiting for guests or whatever), then a polite “no, sorry”, or even a few mints or $2 lollies wouldn’t hurt.

      Anyone who does it differently, is not doing it right and doesn’t deserve much of your time.

    • Just don’t answer the door maybe?
      If it’s important, they probably have your phone number so they can call you to open the door.

    • You’re a really great neighbour! Wish you were in my neighbourhood. Tell me: if a kid’s ball comes into your garden, do you destroy it to teach them a lesson?

      • Holy cow. Did I just get judged because I don’t want to participate in Halloween and just quietly want to opt out? Again, I don’t care about Halloween. I won’t deny other people their fun. I’m not even lamenting some sort of vague sense of surrendering our national identity as others are. I just want to say: No thanks. We’re not buying any. We gave to you people last week. Yes, I’ve heard the Good News. Leave me to the quiet enjoyment of my personal property and take your two buck Scream mask and plastic knife thither.

        I’m an awesome neighbour, by the way. I return incorrectly delivered mail, never make much noise, and have never once run over their kids.

        Grayda – thankyou. I didn’t know that was the sign. To be fair though, apparently most people in my neighbourhood don’t either, since we always have unwelcome callers on this suspicious occasion. Maybe that word needs to be spread: “If the lights are off, it’s a no-go”.

        • >and have never once run over their kids.

          It’s getting harder, since kids aren’t taught to have any boundaries and play in the street

    • Just knock out a quick ‘I hate fun. Please don’t knock and disturb my epic World of Warcraft session’ sign in mspaint.

    • True. Those little bastards aren’t getting any lollies from me if they come a-knockin’.

  • We only get a handful of trick-or-treaters if any each year, but we had an annual Halloween party for the 5 years prior to last year (when our first daughter was born on the 30th leading to it being cancelled), and it’s been very popular with our friends.

    We don’t do it because we want to “adopt American traditions” or anything like that, we do it to catch up with friends and have a bit of fun. It’s no more un-Australian than any of our other imported holidays, and everyone loves to unwind and have a good time. We also don’t buy all of the tacky over-priced commercial decorations, preferring to make our own, although we did cave in and buy just a couple of the more impressive re-usable items a couple of years ago when they were very heavily discounted the day after.

    Now that our daughter’s birthday takes precedence for celebration on the closest weekend day to Halloween we’ve decided to have a yearly “Nightmare Before Christmas” party a little later in the year instead, collapsing our previously separate Halloween and Christmas parties into one; saves us a little money, we still get to have our fun, and our party will no longer clash with the other Halloween parties our friends are starting to be regularly invited to.

    There are a lot of young families in our street, and I’ll be talking to the other parents about Halloween as the kids get older so we can all work out a sensible way of dealing with Halloween that works for everyone. This doesn’t have to be dangerous, it isn’t un-Australian, and it doesn’t even have to be expensive or un-healthy.

  • I probably tell this story every year, but my wife is American, and when it came time to get married, we decided on a Halloween wedding. We got married on the 31st of October, everyone came dressed up (from Oompa-Loompas to mad scientists and my cousin even came dressed as Ned Kelly) and we had a spooky-themed night with a coffin wedding cake and stuff, because we loved that sort of stuff.

    My father (who was the MC on the night) was going to arrive in a hearse (in a coffin) and start the night that way, but we had to scrap it because my mother and mother-in-law agreed that it would offend everyone there, even though everyone loved the idea when they heard it.

    I’ve found that by speaking to my wife about it, I’ve learned to love the celebration even more. It’s not just about some punk kids showing up at your door and egging it because that’s what Americans do, it’s about gathering up your favourite horror movies, getting dressed up and eating lollies shaped like gruesome stuff.

    This holiday is no more American than a Toyota, and we’re not Americanizing our country for letting this stuff in, because with our McDonalds, our hula-hoops, our Breaking Bads, our skipping ropes and all that jazz (and jazz too), we’re hardly in a position to complain about becoming Americanized (or rather, Americanised)

  • I don’t see anything about the concept that makes it exclusively American. It’s not Thanksgiving, or The 4th of July celebrations.

    • You’re right, it’s not American, but for some reason the Americans have embraced it and assimilated it into their culture. It actually most likely has Celtic origin.

  • If people want to adopt halloween, good for them. As long as they can accept that I don’t care for it and therefore not expect candy when they get to my door.

  • I don’t like Halloween, the whole trick or treat thing is wrong. We should not be teaching our kids to pull a prank when they don’t get their way.

    • Have you ever seen kids trick or treat? It’s awesome. They go up to the neighbours and meet them and get to know them. This is how communities are built. Friendships and so on. The lessons that kids take away from Halloween are much deeper than we are led to believe.

  • Pretty much all holidays have been appropriated from somewhere. Two of the biggest in Australia – Christmas and Easter – have religious elements associated with them still. I’m an atheist and celebrate both, but I’ve known relgious people to get up in arms about people stealing “their” holiday. Christmas also drives home the idea of buying people gifts.

    Halloween is secular – anyone can enjoy it (Yes, it does have roots in religions, but it has evolved passed that). The idea behind it is creativity in making a costume and dressing up and meeting people, getting to know the community. Why on Earth are people so against it? It is just a bit of fun! Heaven forbid people have fun. I’ve been celebrating Halloween for years and will continue to do so. If you don’t want to get involved that is fine, but to act like introducing it here is somehow breaking down Australian society? There are worse things going on than a day of costumes and lollies.

    • I don’t think anyone is against you celebrating it. Just don’t force it onto everyone else by defending it the way that you do, as if it offends you that we don’t care.

      • From your previous comment: “Halloween on the other hand is of Pagan origin and can’t even be remotely compared to the Birth of Christ and his death and resurrection.”

        I don’t think anyone is against you celebrating Christmas or Easter. Just don’t force it onto everyone else by defending it the way that you do, as if it offends you that we don’t care.

        See what I did there? Nice to know Christian hypocrisy is still alive and well.

        • I am not defending anything, I am simply against people pushing things into other people. For the record I didn’t push Christmas and Easter onto you or anyone. If you don’t want to celebrate Christmas and Easter then feel free to work on those days and forgo any festivities, just like I will Halloween

  • I don’t like it overall

    It erodes at our national identity, culture and values
    While halloween originated from celtic countries, the rabid consumerism about costumes and candy was added by america. Buying a foreign product is incomparable to adopting a foreign holiday which has attached values, but of course retailers want to push this holiday on us, because they’re having a tough time getting our money, and kiddies are easily influenced by large orange pumpkins and lollies

    Then there’s the statistic about murders and rapes spiking on halloween, which is not surprising when people are dressing up as murderers and other deviants, why would we want to celebrate decadancy? I wouldn’t let my kids go knocking on strangers doors for a sugar fix

    Also it’s not fair!
    If I didn’t get to dress up as a little munchkin, then you’re not going to either!
    The costume building (not buying) aspect of halloween is the only part of it I like
    Perhaps Australia should create a new holiday imbued with australian values and costumes

    • Yeah. We should all dress up like Bilbys, sing songs about sheep thieves and celebrate uniquely Australian traits such as Mateship, A Fair Go and hating on immigrants.

  • I’m kind of divided on the whole thing. On one hand, I couldn’t care less what other people do so long as they don’t bother me. But on the other hand, I see Halloween crap in-stores and can’t help but think retailers are just pushing the holiday on us so they can try to get more money out of people. But I suspect I’m getting more than a little jaded in my old age. V_V

  • Laughable, I ignore Halloween. Not my custom and I won’t follow it unless I had a candy and costume shop to sell to all the suckers! 🙂

  • It’s fun to just keep it at a kiddie level in your street. But saying that, I was in the U.S. during Halloween one year, and totally revised my stance once exposed to the sexy witches out there! Forget the standard mole on the nose ugly versions of costumes we’re used to….I would have really gone Pagan for some of the ones I saw !!! <– if we can adopt that element without all the commercial overhype, then I’m all for it !!!

  • 20 odd years ago i did it, but these days im not keen on it happening, now i live near a school i am wondering if we will get any ToTs coming around.

  • Halloween occurs in Autum/Fall in the US. It’s Spring time here (doesn’t feel like it) so it doesn’t make sense. The only way that it should be celebrated/observed here is if it was moved 6 months. I propose 30th of April.
    Even then I’d say ‘Bah, humbug!’ to it.

  • I’m not keen on the introduction of the “Trick or Treat” activities, but the Halloween part doesn’t bother me in the slightest. As a kid in Scotland we used to go “guising”, it’s similar to ToT but you actually had to *do* something to earn your reward. That could have been sing a song, tell jokes or anything along those lines. Looking back, it must have been truly painful for adults to have to listen to kids coming to their door and telling awful jokes and awful singing of awful songs. 🙂

  • Halloween is not an American holiday it’s an old irish holiday stretching back to pagan times yes America commercialised it but growing up in Ireland it was a time of fun and games dressing up trick or treating and having bonfires so all u killjoys get your facts right . How many Aussies can claim irish ancestry ?

  • Personally I don’t think Halloween in Australia is all that new. My friends and I used to go trick or treating when we were kids and I’m now 46.

  • I’m expecting the advertising/Marketing firms contracted by the turkey selling companies to start pushing for Thanksgiving to be introduced to Australia before too long…

  • Let’s just keep on following the mindlessness from America shall we ? It’s the wrong time of the year in the southern hemisphere if you are doing this for the correct reasons.. Samhain. Oh well, bite my tongue and watch the under-40’s race to make “Idiocracy” our reality.

    • Halloween isn’t American. All major holidays in Australia don’t match up with the seasons. Do you deny those as well since none are Australian ? I always found it hilarious that Aussies are so against Halloween yet dress in Halloween costumes for birthday parties year round because that totally makes sense. Granted there are idiots regardless of race, gender, religion, or nationality around the world. But that mindless idiocracy seems to be strongest in Australia. As a world traveler I can say this and back this up. Over half the population seem to hate monger basing their hate on fabricated hearsay not by experience. And its completely normal to think you’re fighting against Americans, or the English, Ect. Yet the other side of the fight doesn’t even know that the fight even exists. Well seems rather mindless if you can let go of sheer rumors and actually put logic to the situation. And I’m speaking from actual experience. I’ve met some wonderful people down under even married one. But the other half based me off of a rumor that one persons grandfather returned from WWI with and it spread quickly throughout the small population over there. The things I heard were actually quite amusing as well as totally absurd. And this wasn’t everyone just those who don’t seem to be able to think on their own. As a human being I believe we should all be decent to one another and put logic and experience before all else. Or else we are contributing to that mindless idiocracy of a future making it more of a reality.

  • If Aussies want to celebrate Halloween, they should knock themselves out, but what i don’t like is that whole rationalisation for doing so and the claim that is it not the result of American influence. Yes Halloween did not start in the U.S, but Australia’s experience of Halloween comes directly from American culture. That is a fact. And what people don’t like about it is that we have already absorbed so much from the culture. Australia is probably the most Americanised country on the planet. There is nothing parochial or ‘wrong’ about drawing the occasional line in the sand. It’s what most healthy cultures do.

    Snow Wolf’s response is also questionable. Countries like France are far more ‘stubborn’ about their traditions than we are in Australia.

  • Seriously, all of you “it’s a Celtic tradition” apologists – how many other Celtic traditions do you celebrate? The solstices? Harvest festivals? Exactly. The reality is that 20 years of the Simpsons has embedded the notion of trick-or-treating in your children’s heads (and retailers know it), and it makes for another cute Kodak / iPhone moment for you to upload onto your Facebook pages. What *really* grinds my gears, though, is that you’ll clog up the roads for 40-odd weeks of the year driving your kids to and from school – for fear that some imaginary boogeyman is going to snatch them up – yet you’ll happily let them wander the streets knocking on the doors of *actual potential predators* who will welcome the opportunity to start the grooming process. Yes, maybe responsible parents accompany them in *most* instances, but driving home through the eastern suburbs of Sydney between 6-7pm last night (31st) I saw numerous unaccompanied groups of children doing their Halloween thing with not an adult within coo-ee. It’s only a matter of time before the pedophile community coins the expression “it was as though all of my Halloweens had come at once!”

  • if you say you’re not offended but just don’t care why did you post in the first place? Obviously it does bother you that other celebrate it

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