About 10 years ago, you could decorate your house, and expect maybe one child to come and knock on your door. These days, between around 3:30pm and 5:30pm you can see swarms of children, dressed in costumes both hand-made and purchased, roaming the streets, going from house to house with lolly bags and pumpkin-shaped containers, ever hopeful of a generous house with lots of good quality lollies.
Generally, schools and childcare organisations are places where mums end up talking about possible parades or routes, and come up with ideas for handling trick or treating. They may drop leaflets in letterboxes in local streets, to let like-minded families know how to mark their inclusion in halloween. For example tying balloons to the front fence, to let others know you still have lollies left.
Children (and adults) who have watched The Simpsons on TV will have seen the Halloween Specials, with spooky stories, witches, curses and calamities.
However older Australians may not be aware of current traditions. One neighbour (who didn't decorate their house) had been giving small amounts of money to trick or treaters, until they were told that lollies were the expectation. I'm not sure whether recipients were spreading the news, or keeping this to themselves, from year to year.
As Halloween becomes more popular and more established, the age of participating children increases. Children who have enjoyed dressing up with their friends in primary school tend to want to keep up with the tradition as they continue into high school. They tend not to actually trick or treat, leaving the lollies for younger children, but usually gather in local parks, showing off their costumes, and just hanging out. The lack of things to do can lead to unsocial behaviour, such as egg-throwing, which is one reason why local communities and high schools should consider arranging safe halloween events for teenagers, with appropriate music, soft drinks, snacks and entertainment, to keep boredom from being a problem.
Traditional American activities, such as bobbing for apples (or the more sanitary eating donuts from a string), hitting a bulls-eye to dunk someone in water, that we've all seen on US TV shows, but never experienced in Australia, are worth considering. And more suited to the warmer Australian climate at this time of year.
A new site, http://www.halloween-australia.com, aims to provide a place for local communities to register their halloween events, and provide information on streets taking part in Halloween trick or treating. The events are organised by state, suburb and type of event, which may be a trick or treat street, a community event (such as a local council-organised halloween parade), or a commercial event, such as a halloween-themed dinner at a restaurant or nightspot. In the interests of keeping the site safe and clean, events must be reviewed, before being publicly displayed.
However you celebrate it, have a happy halloween.
Halloween Australia is a new site listing halloween events in Australia, halloween recipes, trick or treat tips and halloween stories.