It's not about the tricks or treats - it's about the meets and greets.Last week was Halloween. It's the annual event that Kiwis have deliberated over for years. Should we be taking part? Isn't it just an American thing? Hmmm what's the big deal anyway? Well paint my face and shock my hair because I think as a nation we might be just starting to get the hang of it.
I'll admit that when I was a kid I found Halloween quite ridiculous. Trick or treating never really made sense. Why are we dressed up in costumes (I say costumes, I remember wearing a black rubbish bag one year) walking around the neighbourhood knocking on strangers' doors? Old ladies would answer the door with a "Go away!" Or folks would simply hide in their houses until you did. I guess we just didn't quite "get it".
Since those early years I have spent time living in America and I have experienced Halloween in its proper fashion. Over there they ALL get involved and it turns out that's the key. All or nothing.
It reminds me of the time I held a James Bond dress-up party. Three people put the effort in with costumes and makeup but the other four people didn't. Those four people complained that it was a crap party. Mind you looking back it was a bit of a crap party, I mean there were only seven of us there and four of them weren't officially invited.
Halloween is bigger than Christmas in America. I've experienced it in New York, Los Angeles and Washington DC and if you're in the right neighbourhood every house is decorated with spooky ghosts, spider webs and jack-o-lanterns. The streets are full of families all dressed up in crazy outfits wandering from house to house. Not only is it fun but it's an amazing way for people to come together, drink wine and chat.
My family met every other family on the street and I think that's what Halloween is all about. It's not about the tricks or treats - it's about the meets and greets.
This year in my Auckland neighbourhood I was pleased to see more people were about. My little sons dressed up as Spidee-Pirate and Admiral Zombie and we followed other spooky families as they knocked on doors with decorations. I watched my sons as they practised their pleases and thank yous and I met folks I would probably have otherwise gone the whole year without meeting.
So here's my point New Zealand, embrace Halloween because if we all embrace it then we'll have a good time. It's not going to go away. It's popular culture whether you like it or not.
Do it for your kids. Let your hair down and put some freaky colours in it . And if you're worried about all those sweets, just do what we do and once the little rascals have returned home with their swag hide it in the cupboard. They'll forget about it the next day.