If you are a fan of Halloween, you’re not going to be too fulfilled here in Australia. I could be wrong, because Collarts did put on a Halloween party for us American exchange students (which is awesome), so other schools and programs might do that too, but Halloween in Australia is a bit underwhelming.
First of all, people have asked what day Halloween is. For us, it’s simple and easy to remember because it’s literally the last day of October. But, Australians haven’t grown up with Halloween as an influence in their childhood. They didn’t grow up with Disney Channel making Halloween-themed episodes of The Suite Life of Zack and Cody, and they missed out on reruns of Hocus Pocus every October. I think I can forgive them for not knowing what day Halloween is.
Also, a lot of Australians have talked about how Halloween has become more of a significant event over the past five years. One of our professors, for example, started out a few years ago by organizing a small number of houses in his neighborhood to participate in Halloween; the adults would take the children to Trick or Treat at the designated houses and he said it was pretty cool. Gradually, over the years, more and more houses and families are participating in Halloween in his neighborhood. This is fascinating to me because they’re learning to do Halloween and they’re adopting it slowly whereas, in America, we don’t exactly know why we do it, but we do it and go all out.
What was difficult for me and my roommate was the fact that Halloween costumes aren’t sold everywhere. In fact, we could only find one store that had a good selection of costumes. She ended up building her own (she went as an American tourist in Australia) and I went as a hippie, with a flower shirt that I owned and a pair of peace sunglasses from that shop.
I was very touched that Collarts put on a Halloween party. Now, I don’t think it was solely for us, it may have been something they were intending to do for a while, but I think our presence on campus helped them initiate it. The party was wonderful. Most of the Australians dressed up, there was food, and even a costume fashion show. It was a little reminder of home that was very welcome.