Halloween in Australia, Mud Wrestling or Tomato Throwing?

I had to do a bit of shopping in Big W the other day, and the moment I entered the store, I was confronted with evil pumpkins, witches, spider webs and zombies…..Yes. Halloween is upon us once again. So what is Halloween, and why do we celebrate it here, in Australia?

Halloween

Evil Pumpkin

The origin of Halloween is from the Celtic festival of death marking the beginning of their New Year, celebrated on 31st October or 1st November. The earlier records indicate that it is not just a day for the dead but also the day when the dead might reach out to the living. It came to be known as the feast of the dead, because the Celts believe that on this night the border between the worlds of the living and dead is the thinnest, enabling souls of the dead to re-enter the world.

When first Europeans came to America, Halloween wasn’t a big day on a calendar, due to the fact that most immigrants at a time were Protestants. It wasn’t until the end of the 19th century, when millions of Irish made the trip across the Atlantic, that the festival started to gain momentum and became a national holiday.

So why do we celebrate it here? Why not? After all, we are quite happy to celebrate Christmas in a 40C heat, and we embrace the spring holiday of Esther by getting out our winter clothing, so it only logical that Halloween is a sound choice for Australian holidays. While we at it, we might want to consider adopting another festival – La Tomatina. Getting a bucket load of tomatoes and chucking them at complete strangers sounds like a fun day out. Or if you are after a bit more “hands on” experience, maybe we can start lobbying to adopt a Korean festival known as Boryeong Mud Festival? Two words….Mud Wrestling

Halloween in Australia

Halloween is here

I guess, there would always be people who are happy to embrace an idea of a new festival, just like there would always be those who oppose any change. Whichever side you are on, it is easy to show your allegiance. If you think Halloween is an evil’s work, go buy yourself the biggest water gun you can find, and give those little shits a good spray if they dare to disturb your evening. But if you think Halloween is a fun holiday bringing families together, go spend few dollars and shower little angels with candies.

Since either way it is spending –  there is no wrong choice, for any spending is good for our economy.

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Footy Finals, Kennett’s Curse and Weird Superstitions in Sport

So it finally happened. From twenty points behind at three-quarter time, the Hawks turned the game around and finally broken The Kennett Curse. As entertaining as the game itself was, this isn’t about the Aussie Rules. It is about something strange, something out of left field. This post is about superstitions in sport, and boy, there are some weird ones.

So, what superstitions are out there?

Lets start off with one of the best tennis players of all times – Serena Williams. Most of us would cringe at a thought of wearing our socks more then once. Serena doesn’t mind it. She actually likes it, likes it so much that she only wears a single pair during any given tournament. Really? Eeeew!

Change of socks anyone?

Change of socks anyone? (image courtesy npr.org)

Even Big Bad Bezza is not as gross. Footy legend Barry Hall admitted that he wore the same pair of his favorite underpants for every game. Naturally, he made sure to explain that he washed them in between games.

Switching to cricket, Ricky Ponting’s level of play was not the only consistent aspect of the legendary cricketer’s career. Despite numerous pleas to get a new cap, Ponting refused to wear anything but his trusty baggy green. Another cricket great, former captain of the Australian Test cricket team Steve Waugh, played every game with a red handkerchief given to him by his late grandfather in his pocket.

Moving onto track and field, Fabrice Lapierre, an Aussie long jumper, begins every approach by putting his gold necklace, an 18th birthday present from his parents, into his mouth and biting down before his launch.

Want to have a swing like Tiger? Not a problem. Tiger Woods wears a variation of a red Nike polo during the final round of tournaments. The red color supposedly is linked to Stanford, where he spent his college days, and gives him an increased sense of aggression.

But my personal favourite is the story of Socceroos playing in 1970 World Cup qualifiers. Apparently, according to legendary Socceroo Johnny Warren, the team hired a witch doctor to curse their opponents (supposedly for a bit of a laugh.) Australia beat their “cursed” opposition Rhodesia 3-1, but then decided to screw the witch doctor out of his $1500 fee. Rightfully upset, the witch doctor reversed the curse onto the Socceroos. They lost their next match to Israel (Partly because three players succumbed to illness during the match) and ultimately failed to qualify. Apart from a blink-and-you’d-miss-it appearance in the 1974 World Cup finals, the Socceroos didn’t return to the FIFA World Cup until 2006. What’s real spooky here, is that their qualification occurred shortly after comedian John Safran travelled to Africa in 2004 and hired another witch doctor to reverse the curse.

Kennett's curse is over

Kennett’s curse is over

But going back to Kennett’s Curse… According to Melbourne master of darkness and The Haunted Bookshop owner Drew Sinton, Hawthorn’s midfielder needs to pee in each corner of the ground to help break the Hawk hoodoo. It makes sense. Geelong are Cats, and cats can give a spray. So the Hawks should mark their territory. It’s an animal thing and it’s highly symbolic.