Are you a fan of Halloween? With a continued influx of American culture into our society, there are polarising opinions about the commercialisation of the Halloween tradition. Yet each year, Halloween is becoming more popular in Australia with more celebrations, better costumes, decorations, and a bigger aisle dedicated to Halloween in our supermarkets.
But underneath the fake blood, cotton wool cob-webs and face paint, it is a holiday that encourages community engagement like no other celebration or event.
Australians love a celebration
Australians love any excuse for a celebration and when the celebration involves dressing up, you can understand the attraction for both children and adults. Even the act of planning and creating costumes and theming is a great opportunity for bonding and bringing friends and families closer together. It also brings a real sense of community pride.
A celebration like no other
Consider this; Halloween is the only holiday we have left where we open our doors to strangers. It’s a celebration that doesn’t take place in living rooms or backyards but instead spills out into the streets, and is festive and fun. It’s a throwback to the age of real ‘neighbourhoods’ where everyone knew each other and socialising together was a given. Today we are lucky to even know our neighbours on sight.
We borrow traditions from other countries
Negative connotations surrounding the holiday are often a reaction to perceived commercialisation by the United States and the perception that the US is overtaking Australia with their marketing can turn people into cynics of the tradition. Yet as a young country without many deep seated traditions of its own, Australia has a strong history of ‘borrowing’ rituals from other countries; St. Patricks Day, Valentines Day and Oktoberfest, just to name a few.
A need for rituals and community
As human beings, we look for rituals and community through the things we do, and as other community rituals and institutions such as churches or strong family and neighbourhood linkages break down we naturally look for ways to replace that.
Community connectedness is vital
Being part of a community can have a positive effect on mental health and emotional well-being. Community connectedness is vital, particularly as we age and retire from jobs, lose friends and family members to death and illness and see people we care about move away – all factors that reduce our daily contact with people. Which is why being part of a supportive community is so important for older people. Senior communities, like residential aged care, promote and instill the benefits of sharing and friendship, which in turn maximises health and happiness.
A celebration that brings people and communities together
The grassroots of the tradition of Halloween – dressing up, children being excited for trick-or-treating, pumpkins being carved, and communities spending time together – can be achieved without buying into the Halloween hype because looking past the commercialisation of Halloween, you will find a celebration that brings people and communities together.