Each year at the end of October I see people getting dressed up in all things spooky. I see pubs throwing parties to celebrate the end of a harvest on the other side of the equator. And I wonder for a moment just how many of the people celebrating it stopped to think about its (ir)relevancy to New Zealand.
Halloween to me is about as Kiwi to me as A.N.Z.A.C. Day or Waitangi Day is to an American. Its relevancy to myself is no better. I do not recognize it in any shape or form as a New Zealand festive occasion and thus have no problem putting a sign on the gate saying “No Halloween” or similar.
And when people mention Halloween, they say “celebrate Halloween” like it is supposed to be some sort of festive occasion. That in itself raises another point that I would like to address. The crescendo that builds up around Halloween to me is a dress rehearsal for that other big commercial con: Christmas, with its endless advertizing, excessive decorations of shopping malls. I look at the all the expensive gifts people get for family and the effort that goes into having a big family feast on a day that for many families is quite stressful and I sympathize with them – I honestly could not give a stuff about Christmas.
Maybe I come across as a grinch. Whoop de doo. Once upon a time Christmas might have been a family time, but now there is just too much money involved. I don’t so much look forward to Christmas as I look forward to the holiday period AFTER Christmas. There are times to celebrate, and seeing out the year/ushering in the new one I think is a credible one irrespective of culture or nationality. Which is why I am not so grinchy as my put downs of Christmas and Halloween might suggest.
We have Matariki, the Maori New Year in June – lets celebrate it. Lets have our fireworks displays then instead of on Guy Fawkes; a big public hangi with pavlova for dessert. Let’s spend the week in the lead up to it learning about the Pleiades and the Southern Cross. This can be our opportunity to bring all New Zealanders together our being. Lets make this as Kiwi as.
Sure it might be June. Sure it might be getting into the coldest and wettest part of the New Zealand annual calendar. We can combine it with the interlude that the Super Rugby has on so we can all cheer the All Blacks as they begin their rugby season. If we can agree on a public holiday for Matariki, then I have the perfect one for it to replace:
Queens Birthday Weekend. This is to the best of my knowledge not really celebrated or recognized by most New Zealanders as anything other than a day off work. It lacks any particular meaning – we do not come together like we do on A.N.Z.A.C. Day to pay our respects. We do not acknowledge it in the way we celebrate our respective provincial days. It is just a day off.
Would the politicians be up for having a truly unifying New Zealand day where we can celebrate all that is good and great about Aotearoa/New Zealand? I would.