With the start of October, hundreds of millions of people nationwide are eagerly putting up decorations and designing costumes for the night of Halloween. With horror movie marathons constantly airing on any given channel, along with the slightly-cooler Florida weather, it’s hard not to get into the Halloween spirit.
Halloween isn’t all it seems, however. Many of the key staples of Halloween spirit are pure marketing; rarely is there a family who celebrates Halloween other than for the purpose of dressing up in a store-bought costume, and knocking on people’s doors for a few hours to beg for free candy. Of course, Halloween is a fun-filled night for both children and adults all over America. But that’s all it is: one night.
December is filled with joy for the entire month, regardless of what you celebrate. With time off of school, cold (for Florida’s standards) weather and authentic traditions that bring the family closer together, December is the month that everyone looks forward to. Halloween, of course, is worth the excitement as well; however, it’s not worth spending a month or longer talking about or preparing for.
Unlike Halloween, winter holidays (like Christmas, Hanukkah and Kwanzaa) are legitimately acceptable to start celebrating starting at the beginning of the month. Over time, many Americans have shifted from celebrating these holidays to honor religious beliefs, towards spending quality time with family. Halloween encompasses just one day, and most families only participate in activities in the evening. Movie marathons and house decorations do not make up for what October really is: a stressful month where school speeds to high-gear. December may be the month of midterms, but that only reinforces the idea that after taking these exams, there are two weeks of nothing but holiday spirit and quality time with family.
Halloween is a holiday kept alive by marketing; costume stores with the word “Halloween” in their name are prominent around October, as are fall-scented items, decorations, candy, horror movies and everything in the flavor of pumpkin spice. While marketing techniques like these are similar to winter holidays, especially Christmas, winter celebrations don’t need sales tactics to stay alive. Christmas and other winter festivities are based on religion. Being the most widespread religion on the planet, Christianity doesn’t need scented candles or seasonal Starbucks drinks to promote Christmas, because adherents of the religion will celebrate anyways (whether or not it’s to honor the religious aspect of the holiday).
Winter is a season that is felt by everyone, including Floridians. While other states get to enjoy cooler weather starting around October, Florida (South Florida specifically) sees only a small change. According to holidayweather.com (a website designed to show weather trends to make for efficient vacation plans), Floridians only see about a four-degree difference from September to October. South Florida’s “fall weather” is typically still in the high eighties.
In December, however, it’s not unusual for Floridians to experience temperature in the low sixties. While this is considered warm weather for December in other states, this is the only cold Floridians have ever known, and it causes a clear mood change. Cold weather means no sweat, soft blankets and sometimes, a fire to keep warm and roast marshmallows. This is the real weather worth getting excited for, not a four degree difference to trick yourself that it isn’t unbearably hot anymore.
Winter holidays can stimulate feelings of warmth and nostalgia with authentic traditions like eating a nice dinner as a family, decorating the house, exchanging thoughtful gifts or being a morning person for at least one day of the year: December 25. After the first round of festivities, people begin to plan for New Years. These party plans are typically traditional as well; friends and family will usually get in the habit of gathering for the start of the new year, drinking apple cider and eating a quality meal. The December aesthetic begins on December 1 and doesn’t end for a while after that.
Halloween is a holiday designed to steal money from American families. Costumes are extremely overpriced for a typically one-time-only occasion, and a lot of them can be offensive (featuring racial appropriation, sexism, etc.). A household will rush to the store the day of or the day before Halloween to stock up on candy to give away for free to strangers, and said candy has an extreme price-markup around the time of October. Strangers will take candy from other strangers, posing dangerous scenarios that parents are unaware of since it’s a “holiday tradition.” Halloween may be enjoyable and exciting for children, but these children normally don’t know what they’re “celebrating.”
The Halloween celebrated today derives from a time when people would put pumpkins on their doorstep to ward off demons or spirits. Family bonding is certainly not as strong as that of winter holidays, and without strong marketing techniques, Halloween would not be as widely celebrated.
October doesn’t mark the start of anything important, holidays included. Any seasonal or cultural change expected to occur during the month of October won’t come until late November or early December; thinking that such things are worth looking forward to as early as October 1 is purely false hope. December is truly the best time of the year, with colder weather, authentic traditions, and feelings of warmth from quality time with family and friends. Halloween spirit wouldn’t exist without marketing and consumerism, and it’s enough to make anyone ask: when is December already?
Photo courtesy of flickr.com, CC license