Thursday, 1 November 2012

Despite the best efforts of one of the

local supermarkets we had no little "trick or treaters" for Halloween.
Oh the supermarket tried. I had to pass it on Tuesday and it was filled with masks and pumpkins and ghoulish sweets and "half-price" chocolate. No doubt today the ghoulish sweets will be half price today and the chocolate back to usual. I am not sure what they will do with the masks and the paper pumpkins.
Halloween is not widely celebrated here - yet. The big supermarket chains are endeavouring to change that. Naturally they see it as a commercial opportunity. A lot of people here still do not know what Halloween is about. Ask them and the response is likely to be "isn't it something American?" But Halloween celebrations could grow for another reason. It is an apparent contradiction but it might be seen as another means of retaining the Australian identity.
Attempts to encourage it are also at odds with the government's moves to try and "Asianise" the country. The latest "white paper" talks about "the Asian century" and how we need to have much closer ties with Asia. There may be some individual households in Indonesia which celebrate Halloween but it is not publicly celebrated the way it is in North America. I suspect the same is true throughout Asia.
There are now mutterings of discontent among the voting ranks. People are questioning the direction the government is saying Australia must take. As the Opposition is largely in agreement with the government over the issue it is causing some disquiet.
Australia had a "White Australia" policy once. It was designed to keep Australia a "European" country if you like.  It began in 1901 and it was not until 1949 that it started to be dismantled. In 1973 the government removed the last barriers but the policy was not really tested until 1975 when people started to leave Vietnam. Since then Australia has accepted an even more culturally diverse range of people into the  country.
But that does not mean that Australians want to become "Asians" or even "part of Asia". Many Australians do not. And it has nothing to do with being "racist" or "insular". There is nothing negative in their rejection of attempts to make the country more culturally akin to Asia. They simply want to be Australian.


the fly in the web said...

The stores here...and the North American community...push Hallowe'en but this year the culture ministry has put up a programme of indigenous festivals and celebrations...featuring authentic try to squash this.

catdownunder said...

Now that sounds like a very good idea...problem is we do not have a culture ministry!

Mairéad said...

Halloween was not originally an American festival - it was brought there by Irish and Scottish emigrants who had celebrated the Celtic Festival of Oiche Samhain which marked the end of summer. They found pumpkins easier to carve than turnips so a new custom was born. I'm surprised that the many Irish who emigrated or were deported to Australia didn't bring the same customs with them.