Halloween is really not a big deal in Australia. There were some costumes, decorations, and candy in the stores, but the Halloween section was already being dwarfed by Christmas by mid October.
Australian adults did not grow up trick-or-treating, so while it is beginning to catch on with the kids, it’s definitely new to the parents. You get the impression that they don’t quite understand this strange custom, but it seems fun and so they’re trying it out.
My family donned their costumes and headed out for Halloween, not sure what to expect. They were TinTin and the Captain (Dad), witch, and generic masked scary guy. There were actually a lot of kids and families out in costume. The norm here is to only go to houses that are decorated for Halloween (as opposed to the rule at home of only going to a house if the porch lights are on). Halloween in Australia is something you opt in to rather than opt out of. Maybe one in every 6-8 houses or so was decorated, so most were not participating in trick-or-treating.
A couple other observations:
- Trick or treating started and ended early. We got our first trick-or-treater around 4:00. Because of daylight savings here, it was light the entire time, which was nice (but not spooky). We were finished and home by 7:00.
- I didn’t see anyone else besides us with a jack-o-lantern.
- It seemed like more people were set up at the curb to hand out candy, rather than waiting for people to knock on their door.
- Some people gave out loose, unwrapped candy. I never see this in the U.S. There were some big buckets of loose gummy worms, and a bowl of marshmallows with tongs. (The loose ones went straight into TinTin’s mouth.)
- The plastic jack-o-lantern buckets are much smaller than the ones sold in the U.S. They are probably 1/3 the size. (Yay for more appropriate portion sizes!)
- Costumes seemed to veer more toward the scary than the cute. There were some princesses, but more bloody princesses than regular ones. We saw several girls in the school uniform, but bloody.
- Most of the kids who came to our door did not say “trick-or-treat.” They just said hello. But, some of the adults said “trick-or-treat” while they were handing out candy. I’m not sure why.
- Unlike our neighborhood in the U.S., I didn’t see any parents walking around with wine or beer.
As in the U.S., if you leave a bowl of candy on the front porch with a “please take 1 sign,” it will probably be empty by the time you return. Teenagers are the same everywhere.
Overall, it was a fun night. It was a little more low-key than usual, which I liked. It was fun to walk around and see neighbors out and about and kids in cute costumes. Everyone seemed cheerful and friendly.