|With co-workers at Jamal's annual Halloween party (1995)|
|Hard at work: two of the 'Three Amigos!' (1996)|
Houses decked out in themed decorations and garden paths with movement sensors setting off spine-chilling laughs, creaking doors or thunder claps. Halloween baking; cupcakes and cookies iced with spider webs. The house across the street from us in Mountain View went all out to create the right atmosphere for the intrepid young trick or treaters. They spent days rigging a mock ‘house of horrors’ that ran from the sidewalk to the front door. Music, lighting, props, smoke...
|Martina's creative Halloween baking|
When we returned from California in 1999, I was keen to celebrate Halloween with my young nieces and son. Not only did I miss the holiday, but my son was American; this was part of his cultural heritage! There was no hope of trick-or-treating at that time, however, because no one would have any candy to hand out!
Not to be thwarted, I invented ‘reverse trick-or-treating’. This consisted of dressing up and distributing bags of candy at each of the houses in the (thankfully small) street. The neighbours were understandably very surprised when they opened their doors, but appreciative! We had a lot of fun dressing up and traipsing around, and my son made quite an adorable pumpkin—even though he really disliked the rustle of tissue paper that filled out his costume.
|Four gypsies...and a pumpkin (1999)|
In Australia, the popularity of Halloween has grown markedly in the last decade, with Australian stores now stocking Halloween costumes, decorations and candy. I’m not sure, however, that we can ever attain the cultural link which makes Halloween uniquely American.
For me, Halloween is much less about ‘horror’ and much more about the magic of imagination, dressing up and a return to childhood... Ultimately, it’s about the chance to slip into someone else’s skin—and when I think about it, doesn’t that cover just about every book we ever read?