As far as most people here in Sydney are concerned, today is just another Wednesday. The last day of October. For my students, the last Music History Tutorial of the term. And it was a beautiful spring day - sunny, blue skies, highs around 28C (82F).
But, as every American knows, today is also Halloween. Dressing up in costumes to go door-to-door saying "trick-or-treat" and collecting candy. As a kid, I remember dressing up as a monarch butterfly, a tree, a painter and a princess in a light blue dress and a tall pointy hat with a light green and cream semi-sheer flowery veil attached (that was my favorite). I know my mom hates this holiday, but she always made sure that my sister and I had great costumes to wear - and almost all were home-made and/or made up of a hodgepodge of dress-up clothes from our own dress-up box or the second-hand store. Then, in the early twilight of the late afternoon, we'd go door-to-door in our neighborhood collecting candy. Afterwards, my sister and I would dump out our haul on the kitchen counter top and divide our goodies into two piles - the candy we wanted to eat and the candy that dad could have.
That's not to say that Australians don't know what this holiday is - they do. Early in October, small displays of Halloween decorations and racks of costumes began to appear in some of the stores (K-Mart, the $2 shop, the grocery store). There are a few Halloween parties here and there. And some kids here do go trick-or-treating, but on a much smaller scale. Late in the afternoon on Sunday, Vincent joined his cousins in a neighborhood trick-or-treating party on their street (a cul-de-sac). It was a low-key event - about 10 house participated. Vincent dressed up as a knight.
We also carved a pumpkin.
But this holiday is not celebrated in the same scale here as it is in the States. I imagine this is due to one main reason.
Although the roots of Halloween are religious, it has morphed into a commercialized autumn/harvest holiday - pumpkins, candy corn (I didn't see any of that in the shops), bobbing for apples, hay rides, bare trees, short days, brisk nights. Here in Sydney, spring is in full bloom - spring flowers, strawberries, warm days, late sunsets. I was able to find a pumpkin to carve at our grocery store, but the "who-can-grow-the-largest-pumpkin" contest is held at the Sydney Easter Show in March/April (i.e., fall) - not in October (i.e., spring).
There was no Halloween party or dress-up day at the boys' daycare. Most of my Music History students didn't even realize that it was Halloween. And tonight, we had one lone trick-or-treater.
I think that next year, instead of carving a pumpkin, we will carve a watermelon. It would be more seasonally appropriate.