With the beginning of winter only a month away, schedules are already being finalised across the country for this year’s festivities.
“The lead-up is always hectic” says local school teacher Beeanne Harvis, “but it’s worth it! The kids all get to learn about each other’s cultures, and really welcome the new arrivals, whether they’re from across the country or across the world.”
Not everyone is so enamoured with the month-long celebration, however.
“The parties are alright, I guess. I like the food. But that’s only one weekend. The rest of the time it’s reduced business hours and lots of talking,” says recent school-leaver Sugio Teebou. “I just don’t see the point.”
Councillor Igan Vorfio defends the festival.
“In addition to welcoming new neighbours, many people use this time to share their stories. Whether it’s from feeling heard or realising that others are dealing with problems just like you, a lot of people feel more connected during the festival, and that makes us so much stronger as a community.”
Many businesses slow down at this time of year, with most employees taking advantage of leave entitlements reserved for the event. Mental health services, however, see a spike.
Psychologist Blexton Revar remembers when the festival was introduced. “We were run off our feet those first few years. A lot of people were carrying a really harmful amount of pain.”
“Whether it was from trauma or simple exhaustion, or any number of other reasons, so many people were carrying burdens that they shouldn’t have had to. I suspect that all the talking opened some floodgates. It really shone a light on the magnitude of what we were dealing with.”
Whether you enjoy the talking, or resent the reduced business hours, or just like a bit of extra down-time, there’s no denying that the festival is a memorable part of your year.
“We’re still busy, of course,” concludes Revar, “but these days it’s manageable. As a society, I think we’re getting better at finding balance, and this festival is a big part of that.”