Halloween in New Zealand 2020

Do New Zealanders celebrate Halloween? Your questions answered.

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Halloween is a celebration held on 31 October every year. It’s a day when anyone can don a costume and take on another persona judgement-free, walk through their neighbourhoods trick-or-treating, carve lanterns out of pumpkins and bob for candy apples.

Whilst this hugely popular holiday doesn’t have any actual roots in New Zealand, thanks to the mass media marketing of this annual celebration, many Kiwis have come to enjoy the frightful festivities associated with Halloween. From creepy stories and family-friendly horror movies to the Halloween candy and themed activities, slowly but surely Halloween is becoming more and more popular throughout New Zealand.

Family In Halloween Costumes And Pumpkins

Read on to understand the history of Halloween and all the dos and don’ts in New Zealand.


Top stores to buy Halloween costumes

    Do New Zealanders celebrate Halloween?

    Yes and no.

    Halloween is an annual holiday during which New Zealanders remain divided. Some hang spooky decorations, don creepy costumes and take advantage of the date to have some scare-themed fun with their families and friends, whilst others choose to ignore the celebrations altogether.

    Some New Zealanders choose not to take part in the holiday because they see it as an American tradition. By rejecting this American holiday, they are choosing to reject American culture and stay true to their Kiwi roots.

    As a result, when Halloween comes around, you’ll see a divide of homes. Some decorated elaborately in celebration and others, not at all. However, it should be noted the popularity of this holiday seems to grow every year New Zealand-wide.

    The history of Halloween

    Halloween is a contraction of “All Hallows Evening” and is a day that has been celebrated all over the world under a number of different names.

    There is a school of thought that links modern Halloween celebrations back to the Celtic festival Samhain, which is an ancient pagan ceremony. Samhain was held at the end of the harvest season and marked the descent into the darker half of the year. During this time, it was suggested that the divide between the world of the living and the world of the supernatural shifted, and that mystical creatures could move between the realms of the dead and the living more freely. This could be the spooky origin of our modern-day Halloween.

    There is also said to be some influence from Christian celebrations. In Christianity, 1 November is a holy day called All Hallows Day, making 31 October All Hallows Eve. In addition, 2 November is called All Souls Day. These days were a time to honour the dead and the saints. It is believed that during the 700s Christian beliefs merged somewhat with Celtic beliefs and All Hallows Eve merged with Samhain and began to more closely resemble the celebration we have today.

    Halloween Pumpkins

    Another celebration linked to Halloween is the Mexican festival of the Day of the Dead, which is celebrated on 2 November, the same day as All Souls Day in early Christianity. The Day of the Dead traditions come from pre-Colombian cultures, celebrated in the ninth month of the Aztec calendar. It is believed that this day dates back 2,500–3,000 years. During the Day of the Dead festival, many people will dress up, decorate their homes, walk the streets and remember friends and family members who have died. It is very possible that this ancient celebration has, over time, influenced and shaped Halloween as we know it today.

    When did New Zealanders start to celebrate Halloween?

    It is only over the past few decades that New Zealand has begun to embrace the American holiday of Halloween. This is mainly due to the massive popularity of the horror genre. Whether you like an edge-of-your-seat thriller, secretly adore the gore of a slasher or enjoy the fun family side of Halloween movies, TV shows and books, America and most of the rest of the world has ensured that we all have access to the Halloween-inspired media of our choice.

    Add that to the commercialisation and it’s easy to understand why so many countries that don’t usually celebrate this holiday have started to jump on board with the Halloween festivities.

    Trick-or-treating etiquette in New Zealand for Halloween

    If you’re planning to trick-or-treat in New Zealand or you want to hand out lollies and treats to trick-or-treaters this year, here are a few things you should consider:

    For trick-or-treaters:

    • Try and stick to areas that have other trick-or-treaters. If you see lots of other trick-or-treaters out on the street, it’s likely that you’re in a Halloween-friendly neighbourhood. You’ll have better luck here.
    • Choose houses with decorations. Since not all New Zealanders celebrate Halloween, choosing houses with decorations is a good indicator of which households are happy to accept trick-or-treaters.
    • Try not to disturb people during dinnertime. Many people find doorbell ringers of any kind very offensive during dinnertime. Bear this in mind before you head out.
    • Don’t trick-or-treat too late in the evening. Be mindful that Halloween often occurs on a weekday and many people need their sleep. Try to do your trick-or-treating earlier rather than later.
    • A costume is a must. If you want to trick-or-treat, you’ll need a costume. Otherwise, you’re just asking strangers for lollies!

    Chocolates In Pumpkins Vase

    • Inspect your lollies. Parents of young children, or you yourself, should inspect the haul carefully before consuming it. This can stop those with allergies from consuming something potentially unsafe.

    For accepting trick-or-treaters:

    • Choose individually wrapped lollies. Pre-wrapped lollies (such as Minties or Fruit Bursts) are a lot more hygienic when you have lots of little hands rifling through candy bowls.
    • Put up some decorations. If you’re willing to accept trick-or-treaters, maybe put up a decoration or two on your door so kids and parents know that they’re ok to knock at your place.
    • Be mindful of allergies. It’s always kind to stay away from nut-based or gluten-based sweets given the prevalence of allergies in western society. Kids often won’t read the labels before eating their candy.

    If you want to celebrate Halloween this year, here’s all the inspiration and costume ideas you need:

    Top stores to buy Halloween costumes

    Take the fuss out of Halloween and buy a costume from one of our favourite fashion stores carrying contemporary costumes:


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