Individuals’ Day. It’s like Independence Day, but with less Will Smith and more potential for confusing the crap out of your neighbours.

Have I ever told you that I lived in New Zealand?  Probably.  I was 10 when we moved there, so it wasn’t like I had a wealth of insight.  This post over at Matron Down Under reminded me, though, that there was one glaring difference as far as a ten-year-old was concerned: they didn’t “do” Hallowe’en.

That is to say, they didn’t celebrate it in the North American sense, with poorly constructed costumes and flimsy plastic masks and enough high-fructose corn syrup to choke a horse.  They were aware that it existed.  They just chose not to make a big fuss out of it.

You can imagine how distraught I was by that.  I mean, we lived there for three years.  That’s a lot of Snickers bars I was missing out on.  So I took it upon myself to bring the awesomeness to the people.

I recruited some friends – well, the only friends I had there, really – who were of course completely dazzled by my tales of pillowcases full of candy.  We talked our parents into allowing us to go trick-or-treating, and spent hours planning our costumes.

There was just one hitch.  October 31st fell on a Thursday, and my friends weren’t allowed to go wandering around the neighbourhood in the dark on a week night.  We couldn’t go trick-or-treating until November 1st. 

It seemed like it was going to be hard to convince total strangers that we were trick-or-treating a day late, in a country that was unsupportive of trick-or-treating in the first place.  So we did the only logical thing – we invented an entirely different holiday.

We were a nerdy lot, so we spent quite a long time crafting a story about a planet in a galaxy far, far away, where there were 3 friends who were Individuals.  Those Individuals (a witch, a pirate, and…some kind of princess, I think*) didn’t fit in with the rest of the people on their planet, who were all very homogenous and who valued conformity above all else.  Somehow (I’m a little fuzzy on the details) the three friends managed to convince an entire planet that it was better to be your own person, and that personality and individuality should be celebrated.  They triumphed over conventionality on November 1st, so each year following that great victory, they would dress up as Individuals and go around spreading the word.

Or something.  We were a little strange and not very popular – it’s possible that we may have been projecting, just a WEE bit.

Needless to say, trying to tell the story of Individuals’ Day at every house and explain why it meant that they should be giving us candy was met with a lot of amused looks and no small amount of exasperation.   I think our total haul after a couple of hours was some breath mints and a bunch of pennies.

I’m sure our parents were home looking up “Child Psychologists” in the yellow pages. 

So while I adore North American Hallowe’en and all it’s glitter-and-candy-coated goodness, the day after holds a bit of a special place in my heart, too.  I’m not going to be canvassing for gum and pocket lint or anything, but I might raise a glass of wine and tip my witch’s hat to Individuals in both hemispheres.


*The irony of the Individuals being nothing but two-dimensional caricatures may have been lost on us.

**I think I’ll count this as a Spin Cycle post.  It’s been a while.  I hope Jen will still let me in the club.