Book of Me: Prompt 9 -Halloween/Hallowian

Book of mePrompt 9 for the Book of Me is all about Halloween, which is appropriate given that it occurs in week 9 of our project. This will be a traditional event for many of my fellow bloggers, however Down Under it’s been a non-event until quite recent years: another commercial opportunity or just fun for the kids? I’m so cynical.

Julie’s questions were: Have you ever participated in a Halloween event? When was it? Where was it? What did you dress as? Trick or treat? My answer to each of these is “no”.

So my first thought was to pass on this week’s prompt but wait, there’s a lateral solution.

The Story Bridge is part of the school's geography and student memories.
The Story Bridge is part of the school’s geography and student memories.

Our good friend Wikipedia has an answer to what Halloween is all about. It celebrates the eve of All Hallows or All Saints, the day when the Christian churches remember their saints.  It also records that the celebration  initiates the triduum of Hallowmas, the time in the liturgical year dedicated to remembering the dead, including saints (hallows), martyrs, and all the faithful departed believers.

The front altar of the All Hallows' Chapel
The front altar of the All Hallows’ Chapel

This is much more familiar to me for a number of reasons. It was always traditional in our house to go to Mass on All Saints’ Day (1 November) and also on All Souls’ Day (2 November) to remember all our family members who had died and gone before us. Actually this makes All Souls’ Day a pretty good feast day for family historians to celebrate. No particular year stands out because going to Mass was just one of those things you did on a weekly (or more regular) basis.

All Saints’ Day or All Hallows’ Day is also important in my family history because I went to a school called All Hallows’ in Brisbane, now in its 153rd year. In fact three generations of women in my family have attended the school over many decades and given its name 1 November was of course an important day in the school’s calendar. To be honest I can’t recall that we did anything exceptional on the day (it was after all shortly before our annual state-wide exams) but we certainly went to Mass in the school chapel. By the time our daughters attended the school it had become traditional for the whole school to have the day out having fun at one of the water parks in town.  I guess they probably also went to Mass in the chapel as well (must see if any of them remember)

The school chapel has an amazing atmosphere and without being spooky evokes generations of women who have worshipped there.

When I was at All Hallows’ the school’s quarterly newspaper was called The Hallowian and it was a more light-hearted reporting of what was happening in the school than the formal end-of-year school magazine.

I’ve been looking at old copies from when I was at the school and have been intrigued by the diversity of the stories from totally frivolous (and fallacious!) stories about the new prefects, in-depth social commentary, welcomes to the New Guinea students who had arrived to study there, and the usual mix of charity, drama, cultural and sporting activities. I was particularly taken with the stories about the school’s buildings and grounds, so now I’m scanning them for posterity (perhaps something for my time capsule?)

Interesting to see the ideas for holidays in the day. I used to skate at Mowbray Park ice rink.

Back to the more temporal celebration of Halloween, we were in New England one year in mid-November, and traces of Halloween celebrations in garden decorations or florist’s windows. That’s probably my closest direct connection to Halloween.

Happy Halloween to all my mates and Happy All Hallows’ Day to my fellow AHS students.

Pumpkins on a Boston doorstep 1992.
Pumpkins on a Boston doorstep 1992.

13 thoughts on “Book of Me: Prompt 9 -Halloween/Hallowian

  1. As a former Catholic schoolgirl (but a Vincentian) your post dredged up memories of feast days and our school chapel.

    You are not cynical at all – Hallowe’en presents an opportunity for purveyors of junkand junk food to make a quid or two.


  2. An interesting and more relevant take on Hallowe’en. I felt tempted to ask some passing ghouls if they knew the origins of the event, but my cynical self resorted to removing the batteries from our doorbell instead and retreating inside.
    Love the recommendations in the 1964 school newspaper. Did you teach yourself Serbo-Croat or Swahili? 🙂


    1. Yes it has been something of an “invasion” in recent years and of course then peer pressure kicks in. Loved the battery removal strategy 🙂

      I noticed that too about the languages. Having just come back from Kenya, a bit more Swahili would have been handy.


  3. Like you, Halloween was a non-event in both my childhood and my daughter’s and yes I too am a bit cynical the way the shops are now full out in favour of it. I have come close to not bothering about this particular topic – but what I do love are pumpkins! They are such a lovely cheery symbol and I could not stop photographing them when I was on holiday in the USA one autumn. Thank you for sharing your memories of Halloween on the other side of the world.


    1. Glad you enjoyed the post Susan. I agree those pumpkins can look pretty cool but I’m glad I don’t have to mess around with them 🙂 I really enjoyed seeing all the Halloween and Autumn decorations in New England -so picturesque.


  4. I wonder whether Halloween has grown in Australia to fill the gap left by the loss (no big loss!) of Guy Fawkes night on 5 November. In my Brisbane childhood it was always called that, not Cracker Night, and famikies all had parties and fireworks let off. I don’t regret its passing – it always led to fires, injured children, and was very anti-Catholic in origins. But maybe it left a space around that time, and Halloween has replaced it – with, of course, the enthusiastic help of Woolworths, etc.


    1. Great reminder!! I had totally forgotten (in this context at least) that we used to have Guy Fawkes night which we found every bit as exciting as the kids these days find Halloween. I think we used to sometimes call it cracker night though (also in Brisbane). Of course in the Territory we still haven’t joined the rest of the country in banning personal fireworks -part of our “great Territory lifestyle” but as you say it’s always crazy for the firies and causes accidents (largely down to stupidity). Can’t decide if a political party banning the fireworks would get them more votes, or get kicked out…the latter probably. Theoretically they’re only legal for Territory Day but of course they go off throughout the year.


  5. Ah I think kids just like to dress up, party and eat lots of sweets. Many “big kids” As well! I’m sure I would have just loved Halloween had it been around when I was growing up. With so many attractions for the kids how could it not become popular? I do worry about them just going up to people’s houses though. I believe it is something that needs really good parental supervision.


  6. It certainly doesn’t mean you have to like it. I agree the retailers probably make their share. So long as the kids are safe it doesn’t worry me. However I do think we should encourage the giving of more yummy fruits than all those lollies. I’m sure there’s a few tummy aches the next day.


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