1 Nov 2013

Happy Halloween

"Kahlo Rivera Day of the Dead Sculpture",
courtesy of The Children's Museum of Indianapolis
Celebrating “Halloween”, the “Day of the Dead,” the “Día de Todos los Santos” or “All Souls Day” on 1st November is a Christian tradition to honour the dead but also a pagan tradition associated with the beginning of winter.


Probably the two best known ways to celebrate this day are doing “trick or treat “ and carving pumpkins in the Anglo-Saxon countries and visiting the graves of dead relatives in Mexico. Mexicans art has also developed unique images to do with this festivity, combining Spanish and Indigenous influences.

As far as I can tell, Australia doesn't have a very strong tradition of celebrating Halloween. No kids have come to my door dressed in costumes and I don’t see any carved pumpkins on people’s windows.   Neither have I heard any processions through the neighbourhood asking repeatedly for “a donation for the souls in the purgatory, for the grace of God,” while intermittently playing a bell, like used to be the case in Brazil during my mother’s childhood.

In Spain people visit the graves of their loved ones at the cemetery. It’s also a tradition to perform the play “Don Juan,” by José Zorrilla, during the night of 31st October to 1st November. Although most people remember Don Juan as the story of a womaniser, the fact is that at the climax of the story, the spirits of those he has hurt during his life appear to him and offer him the chance to repent.

Lately though,  Halloween has just become another excuse for a themed night at clubs...which I think may be the case in Newcastle also.

It wasn't uncommon a couple of generations ago for families and friends to gather in a room and share ghost stories.

How about a public reading of ghost stories during Halloween? I would be up for that. Perhaps this is something that could be organised by Hunter Writers Centre next year? Listening to ghost stories, at night time...maybe at the Lock-Up Cultural Centre...That would be spooky enough.