Halloween: any excuse to dress up and party
October 28, 2011 § Leave a comment
IS HALLOWEEN JUST AN EXCUSE TO SELL CHEAP PLASTIC NOVELTY ITEMS? Have we in Australia simply appropriated another American concept, and therefore is Halloween the McDonald’s of holidays? Does it hold any recognized tradition or beliefs for the Australian public? The answers are: maybe, yes and probably not. But who cares really? After all, we all celebrate Christmas in Australia, and approximately 40% of us have no religious affiliation with the day. So cynicism aside, it is a great excuse to dress up like a bit of a goose, have a few drinks, eat some junk food and use the word happy in a sentence (Happy Halloween!). But for those of you who are interested to know why you’re smearing yourself in fake blood, and eating a years quota of “candy” in one day, here’s a brief history for you.
Halloween is a holiday celebrated on the night of October 31. Traditional activities include trick-or-treating, bonfires, costume parties, visiting “haunted houses” and carving jack-o-lanterns. Irish and Scottish immigrants carried versions of the tradition to North America in the nineteenth century.
Halloween has its origins in the ancient Celtic festival known as Samhain. The festival of Samhain is a celebration of the end of the harvest season in Gaelic culture. Samhain was a time used by the ancient pagans to take stock of supplies and prepare for winter. The ancient Gaels believed that on October 31, the boundaries between the worlds of the living and the dead overlapped and the deceased would come back to life and cause havoc such as sickness or damaged crops.
The festival would frequently involve bonfires. It is believed that the fires attracted insects to the area which attracted bats to the area. These are additional attributes of the history of Halloween. Masks and consumes were worn in an attempt to mimic the evil spirits or appease them.
Trick-or-treating, is an activity for children on or around Halloween in which they proceed from house to house in costumes, asking for treats such as confectionery with the question, “Trick or treat?” The “trick” part of “trick or treat” is a threat to play a trick on the homeowner or his property if no treat is given. Trick-or-treating is one of the main traditions of Halloween.
The history of Halloween has evolved. The activity is popular in the United States, the United Kingdom, Ireland, Canada, and due to increased American cultural influence in recent years, imported through exposure to US television and other media, trick-or-treating has started to occur among children in many parts of Europe, and in the Saudi Aramco camps of Dhahran, Akaria compounds and Ras Tanura in Saudi Arabia. The most significant growth — and resistance is in the United Kingdom, where the police have threatened to prosecute parents who allow their children to carry out the “trick” element. In continental Europe, where the commerce-driven importation of Halloween is seen with more skepticism, numerous destructive or illegal “tricks” and police warnings have further raised suspicion about this game and Halloween in general.
And now with your history lesson complete, here are some ideas of the cool things available to do this weekend to celebrate Halloween in Brisbane: Open air cinema’s Halloween special at Southbank, Manly Harbor Village Halloween Street Party, Ghosts tours held at Toowong Cemetery and South Brisbane Cemetery, as well as various clubs around Brisbane hosting Halloween themed evenings including The Fox Hotel in Southbank, The Hi-Fi bar in West End and Limes Hotel in the Valley. If any of these ideas tickle your fancy the websites are listed underneath. And for those of you that are hosting your own Halloween celebration, we haven’t forgotten you; we’ve included a simple guide to carving your own pumpkin, so get carving!
How to Carve a Pumpkin
Things You’ll Need
- Votive Candles
- Paring Knives
- Cooking Oil
- Felt-tip Pens
- Olive (not Virgin) Oil
- Chef’s Knives
- Votive Candleholders
- Pumpkin-carving Sets
Select a fresh pumpkin in a shape that pleases you. Some folks prefer their pumpkins low and round, while others like them tall and oval-shaped.
Draw a circle or hexagon on top of the pumpkin in preparation for making an opening large enough for your hand to reach through.
Cut through the stem end of the pumpkin along your outline with a sharp knife or pumpkin-carving tool. Use a back-and-forth slicing motion to cut through the thick, tough skin.
Remove the stem end, which will act as a cap, making sure you scrape off any seeds or pulp.
Use a large spoon to scoop out the seeds and pulp from inside the pumpkin. Hold the spoon by its bowl to get extra leverage while scooping.
Draw a pattern for the face on the clean pumpkin with a felt-tip pen, or scribe the lines into the skin using a pencil. Be sure to make the eyes, nose and mouth large enough; you’ll have a hard time cutting out tiny features when you’re using a big knife blade to saw through tough skin.
Follow your pattern as you cut all the way through the pumpkin.
Push the cut-out features gently from the inside of the pumpkin and discard the pieces.
Place a votive candle inside the pumpkin to create an eerie glow.