Halloween originated as a Celtic holiday, during which the boundary between the living and the dead became blurred, making it easier for the Celts to predict their future. To celebrate, Celts held huge bonfires to sacrifice animals and burn crops, dressing up as the animals they sacrificed and beginning a tradition that would bring joy to all ages for years.
Now, Halloween has morphed into a marketing ploy to get people to buy expensive costumes that will only be worn once and enough candy to last the whole year yet is eaten within a few days. While we don’t light sacrificial bonfires anymore, people instead adorn their houses with LED lights, fake blood and cotton spiderwebs. People go all out planning early, and in turn stores start selling Halloween supplies months in advance.
Halloween decorations begin lining store aisles as soon as back-to-school displays are retired for the year. Party City, a major hotspot for Halloween enthusiasts, receives their first shipment of Halloween merchandise around mid-August. Consumers roll their eyes at the sudden influx of candy and costumes, but add them to their carts anyway.
Over the years, Halloween has turned into a multibillion dollar holiday in the United States alone. About one fourth of the candy sold in America is purchased for Halloween, and since it is no longer acceptable to trick-or-treat in a white sheet impersonating a ghost, there is a profitable market for costumes as well. Costumes have become a way for people to boast about themselves, whether it be their relationship (couples costumes), friendship (squad goal group costumes) or creativity (costumes oozing with the jealousy of those surrounding it)
The National Retail Federation’s annual survey reported that 67% of the $8.4 billion spent annually on Halloween is used to purchased costumes, including pet costumes. But why is it that these items are put out so early? Davie Target loss prevention manager Andres Diaz believes its purpose is to increase profits off of the holiday.
“[I believe] stores start selling Halloween products to beat their competitors and get more sales,” Diaz said.
Because store shelves are stocked so soon with costumes, decorations and candy, it’s hard to resist purchasing them, especially if you love the spooky season. With the products in the hands of giddy homeowners, they are quickly placed along fences, windows and roofs, two months before the actual holiday begins.
To the people who go all out turning their house into a haunted mansion, passing out full sized candy bars and handfuls of treats into the pillowcases of eager children:: you are adored by all who visit and truly help create the excitement that the holiday is known for. Still, there is no need to transform your property into a graveyard in September.
Although Halloween decorations are put up much too early, they are still appreciated and admired by many. When the decorations are kept out for an excessive period of time, it reminds people that Halloween is coming up and can build the anticipation of trick-or-treating or just spending quality time with your family and friends on Halloween.
However, as tempting as it is to go overboard on Halloween as soon as summer ends, it would be far more respectful to the holiday (and the neighbors) to wait for October to begin. And please, refrain from buying the Christmas decorations the next aisle over.
Photo courtesy of Ursula Sander, CC license