Halloween is a capitalist dream, but I’ll embrace it anyway
Celebrated every year on October 31st, Halloween usually features carved pumpkins, trick-or-treating, and scary costumes.
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The tradition began as an ancient Celtic festival called Samhain. It involved the lighting of bonfires and people wearing costumes to scare away ghosts. It has now metamorphosed into something like a Hallmark holiday…every aisle in such as TK Maxx is lined with spooky homeware, from pasta bowls decorated with cartoon ghosts to candles that make you gag from the strong scent of pumpkin spice.
How we celebrate Halloween today has largely been influenced by the US, in a similar way to how Black Friday, baby showers and gender reveal parties have infiltrated our customs and culture. My parents didn’t celebrate Halloween when they were young—it wasn’t as big a deal back then. They instead saved their excitement for Bonfire Night, which takes place just five days later.
My love for Halloween comes from my childhood. I would eagerly await October 31st and pass the time by rewatching Disney Channel’s Halloween specials. We’d buy fake blood and vampire teeth from Asda and count the days until we could go trick-or-treating with our friends—an excuse to eat as many sweets as we’d like. Then we’d sit down in front of the TV to watch The Simpsons Treehouse of Horror.
Now, when you become too old for trick-or-treating, Halloween centres on house parties. Decorating a pal’s living room with cobwebs and plastic spiders and getting drunk whilst a spooky playlist is on repeat, consisting of Monster Mash, Thriller, and Ghostbusters. I’m not ashamed to say that I bought this year’s Halloween costume in the middle of September.
If you’re my parents’ age, i.e. baby boomers or older Generation Xers, you might not quite get the hype around Halloween. Halloween thrives on nostalgia…the costumes you wore as a child, the first time you watched The Nightmare before Christmas or Hocus Pocus. Even now, I just want to dress up as my favourite character, just like I did when I was 5-year-old. Despite Halloween lasting for just one day of the year, I’ve bought slippers that sport dachshunds dressed in ghost costumes and I already have a mug that looks like a cauldron.
People even dress their dogs for Halloween—it’s absolutely ridiculous, of course, but it also brings a lot of joy. Imagine a beagle dressed as Frankenstein’s monster and tell me that wouldn’t make you smile.
TK Maxx doesn’t care about your nostalgia, only its sales figures, as it peddles mugs with cobweb designs and spooky skeleton-inspired cushions. Childhood reminiscence doesn’t even cross Starbucks’ mind when they recommend you enjoy a pumpkin spiced latte with a gingerbread ghost. Corporations love that we’ve embraced this American tradition, and that we buy more crap that we don’t need for one day of the year.
All that said, 2022 has been a rough year, what with war in Europe, the cost-of-living crisis, political chaos, and now, the collapse of the pound. It’s an emerging pattern, considering the previous two years featured a pandemic and a barrage of related issues. The 2020s have certainly not been kind thus far—it only makes sense that we’d want to retreat into the nostalgia of our childhoods. A time when we were shielded from the horrors of the world and our only concern was our maths homework. When choosing between fish fingers and turkey dinosaurs for tea was our biggest dilemma, or whether so-and-so would let us join in with their games in the playground the following day.
It’s a no-brainer that we may yearn for simpler times at the moment. The anticipation of Halloween epitomises that. If the thought of dancing to Rocky Horror’s The Time Warp or spending a tenner on spooky décor in Homesense brings you even the smallest amount of joy during these bleak times, I say go for it.