Halloween in Australia: Trick or Treat?

Written by Kim Harris

Halloween is becoming increasingly popular in Australia!

In 2019 we spent $159 million on chocolate and lollies (According to The Mars Group), around $22 per person. We have a long way to go to catch up to our American friends who spend on average $102 per person or $10.14 billion in 2021.

Australian retail stores are increasingly offering a wider variety of spooky themed treats, dress up costumes, and ghastly home decorations to both scare and delight for the October 31 celebrations.
Growing up in the 90s I didn’t experience Halloween. I avidly read the American based books ‘The Babysitters Club’ which saw the characters ‘trick or treat’, as well as embarking on spooky adventures during the Halloween season.

I remember feeling envious and curious of the super exciting but foreign time of year. I believe many of our readers may have felt a similar way.

I certainly didn’t understand the meaning or reason for Halloween but knew that it wasn’t going to happen for me living rural without neighbours on a property. I recall Halloween being characterised as a made-up American event, to make money for the big companies and sometimes compared with Valentine’s Day.

Nonsense notions fabricated to sell cards, useless products, and chocolates to the gullible.

‘Sign me up’ I thought back then. I feel the same now.

Dressing in a fantastically fun themed costume, spending time with family/friends eating lollies, pretending to be someone different, how playful, creative. It’s completely silly fun just for a couple of hours!

Halloween dates back around 2,000 years with origins said to be from Irish Celtic folklore.

Originally Samhain, a festival of fire associated with death, and the beginning of the darker half of the year. Cattle were sacrificed, the communal fire was shared – participates took a flame home to light for winter.

Around the world many countries have adapted their own traditions and beliefs for Halloween with a common theme being to remember and celebrate the dead and give thanks for the last harvest before winter. The special night was said to generate a thinner veil between the living and deceased. Offering increased physic abilities and communication with the dead.

Christianity associates with All Saints Day, or All Souls Day held on November 1, the honouring of the deceased Saints and Martyrs dating back to the 8th Century. Medieval England termed the period from October 31 – November 2 All Hallows, with the eve Halloween originating from the English.

In Europe offerings of soul cake (food) and milk was extended to the spirts to ward off evil. The poor were given food in exchange for their prayers. Candles placed roadside to guide the deceased. In Ireland and England people carried lanterns carved out of turnips or potatoes. It’s a tradition which was adapted to pumpkins by European settlers in America which is still popular today.

Mexico and Latin American observe Día de Muertos translated as Day of the Dead. The celebration can span from October 31 – November 2. Massive celebrations to honour one’s deceased relatives on November 2. The origins are debated but said to be based on All Souls Day which was introduced by Spanish invaders, as well as traditions aligned with indigenous Aztec beliefs. Graves are cleaned and decorated with masses of flowers, candles and gifts. Home shrines are created offering an abundance of food and drink to the dearly departed. Painted Skulls are a key symbolic feature.

Catholicism is strongly featured in the Mexican Halloween style rituals. Each country in Latin America (and many countries around the world) have their own Halloween based traditions and rituals which can be similar but also very individual to the region.

Living in southern hemisphere one can’t fully grasp the tradition or experience portrayed in books and media for Halloween or the other religious holidays depicted in the Northern Hemisphere.
We sing songs about ‘Dreaming of a White Christmas’, consume Christmas imagery of snowflakes, log fires, warm snuggly jumpers, pine trees – Santa dresses entirely inappropriately for the Australian climate in December.

Easter cards and gifts frequently depict Spring; tulips, green grass, baby chickens and bouncing bunnies.

Halloween for ‘them’ is the start of Winter and imagery of the orange and amber autumn leaves, rambling pumpkin patches, big spooky, old mansions, streets flooded with young children trick or treating, epic ghoulish house parties for the teenagers!

‘They’ were right, it is a trick – Australia doesn’t appear to have an authentic connection with Halloween? I suppose we just want to join the party, tag along, do as they do in the movies. Just like I wanted to do when I was a kid. A joyous treat!

When asked to make a Halloween DIY Home Project for the Alive Readers I was super excited. One of the quirkiest projects. I totally enjoyed brining ‘Sunny Scarecrow’ to life in my living room. Sunny will watch over my just planted sunflowers and the imminent arrival of Hungry King Parrots.

I don’t suppose you would like to make a Halloween Scarecrow… just for fun? If you do, we would love to see it!

Drop a message on FB or Instagram. Happy Creating!


Garden Trestle with stakes:

Many sizes available. I used diamond shape

Coat hanger:
Attach to trestle with ties to make shoulders. Assorted sizes of zippy cable ties

Foam ball:
Cut slit at bottom (Stanley knife) squeeze foam ball on trestle to form head, cover head with a hessian piece big enough to make a 360-degree bib, zippy tie around neck
Hessian fabric 3+ metres

Fabric for farmer style shirt 0.5m:
Cut slit big enough to slid overhead like a poncho, attach to coat hanger shoulders with staples. Cut long strips for layered appearance.

Hessian garland ribbon:
Rip, tear, pull apart to appear worn
Raffia: Unevenly poke out of pants and hat
Stapler to attach fabric: Pucker up fabric to create pleats in pants and dimension/ folds in hat

Thick cotton rope:
Belt and necktie

Bamboo sticks (garden stakes) x 2:
Secure firmly with zippy ties to make arms, hang garland hessian, torn fabric from arms

Big Buttons for eyes:
Wrap wire in X to create spooky effect – attach with hot glue gun

Paddle pop stick mouth:
Attach with hot glue gun. Wire cut into small pieces attached with glue to paddle pop stick – creates stiches in mouth

Old pot planter or yoghurt tub:
To create the frame of hat. Make any shape you like. Hold in place with pegs or office clips, once correct, staple and or glue to secure. Remove pegs once dry.

Optional feather, flowers, and paint splatters