I am a horror writer based in Australia, and if you are an avid Halloween lover like me you will be well-aware of the Halloween-haters here down under. They’re usually the grumpy old men who yell at kids who are dressed up and just trying to have a fun night out by screaming, “We’re not American!”
Halloween is one of the only holidays I celebrate throughout the year, despite my religious upbringing. Our family is too small and too spread-out to continue with traditions that were reserved for Christmas. I've never celebrated Australia Day, as my mother's birthday is on January 26th when it was usually celebrated, and as a health-conscious vegan I don't really want to do the chocolate easter eggs at Easter thing. I love sweets, costumes, and horror, so really it seems only viable that Halloween is the holiday I would pick to celebrate.
Though I will say I do tend to get thoroughly drunk on St. Patrick's Day, and party hard on New Years Eve as well. Ok, so maybe it isn't the only holiday I celebrate.
But it's a date that is important to me. I spend all 31 days of October watching horror movies. I have a party without fail every year, go out partying, write countless Halloween articles for my multitudes of blogs and websites, I always accept trick or treaters, dress up my dog, dress up my house, and have atleast three costumes every year. So naturally, I have been on the receiving end of snide comments of "this isn't America!" and I'm sick of it.
This view of Halloween being an American tradition is extremely uneducated and biased. While Americans have popularised the tradition of Halloween, they are by far not the only ones who celebrate it, and were even originally disapproving of the holiday’s pagan roots. As a “new found land” the roots of Halloween is actually traced back to Europe, where it is also celebrated by the Irish, Scottish, Romans, and those from the United Kingdom primarily.
Originally a Celtic festival of Samhain (pronounced sow-in), this holiday was celebrated by the Celts, an ethnolinguistic group of tribal societies in the Iron Age of Medieval Europe who lived 2,000 years ago in what is known as Ireland, the UK, and northern France today. The festival of Samhain was a new year celebration held on November 1st which marked the end of summer and the harvest and the beginning of the cold winter that was marked with death. The Celts believe that on the night before the new year, the boundary between the earthly world and the world of the dead became blurred, so that on October 31st the ghosts of the dead returned to earth for the night.
Over time, Christianity and Catholicism took over pagan religions popular in these areas, and so the darkened celebrations were lessened. When the Europeans took off for the new worlds they brought their celebrations with them, which was how it ended up being popularised and celebrated in modern day America. The European settlers who came to Australia though lost their celebrations of Samhain and All Hallows Eve due to the rapidly different seasons, and the effects of British Colonialism, which is why it is a holiday not celebrated in Australia despite it’s European routes.
But it still seems Australia is missing out on these ghoulishly fun celebrations, as it is also celebrated quite religiously in South American cultures and in Mexico. Celebrated instead as Dia De Los Muetros (or Day of the Dead) this similar holiday is a Latin American tradition with its origins firmly rooted in Mexico that honours the dead with lively and colourful celebrations. Marked as All Saints Day and All Souls Day, the celebrations combine indigenous Aztec rituals with modern day Catholicism that was brought to the regions of South America by the Spanish. Dia de los Muertos is a wonderful celebration of deceased ancestors and living spirits, and is certainly not simply an “American tradition” either.
Australians are embracing the Halloween holiday more and more, and while we may not end up celebrating to the ninth degree that Americans do, it can be seen as bigotry or prejudice to yell at trick or treaters for celebrating a holiday that has its roots in a religious celebration. Though not as extreme bigotry as you will find against people of different religions, ethnicities, race, beliefs or sexual preferences, it is not appropriate to be disrespectful.
Despite the fact we are in Australia, trick or treaters and celebrators of Halloween are still respectful of people’s traditions and cultures and go trick or treating to people who have decorated their house and advertised they are accepting of Halloween. Gone are the days of randoms showing up at doorsteps demanding candy home-owners were unprepared for.
It’s unnecessary and extremely uneducated to yell at people of celebrating Halloween the way they want to, and you have my complete permission to tell these people just how uneducated they really are.