With October 31st just around the corner, the Halloween spirit is out in full force. Jack-o-lanterns litter our Instagram feeds. Candy corn fills our stomachs. Hocus Pocus beams from our screens. But, as the Halloween fury takes over, it’s important for us all to take time to reflect on the true meaning of the holiday, a powerful sentiment that’s often overlooked.
Like all of America’s holidays, Halloween is intensely commercialized. Second only to Christmas, people spend nearly $7 billion a year on candy, costumes, and decorations. More than $300 million of that goes to pet attire alone.
But, unlike our other dozen holidays, Halloween exists in commercial society alone. While other holidays, like Thanksgiving, Christmas, and Independence Day, honor historic events that are relevant to our nation or religion, Halloween is uniquely freed up from its past. Does anyone know the story of how Halloween came to be? Do we know the history behind any of its traditions – Why we carve pumpkins, dress up in silly costumes, gorge on candy? Most of us have no idea. Nor, do we even feel the need to pretend we do. Because that’s not what Halloween is about.
Instead of being focused on honoring history, Halloween is, in fact, an unapologetic celebration of consumer and pop culture today. Without shame or inhibitions, Halloween encourages everyone to take a moment to relish the awesomeness of America’s excessive consumerism. We don costumes, honoring advertising’s greatest icons and pop culture’s favorite heroes – Miley Cyrus, Breaking Bad, Duck Dynasty, and even the “Fox” from Ylvis’s viral video top Google’s lists of the most popular searched costumes this year. We scarf down Reese’s and Hershey’s candy. We carve pumpkins cherishing the latest memes. Halloween is indeed the one night we all come together to celebrate consumer and pop culture in all its glory, without guilt or humiliation.
So, when next Thursday night rolls around and we emerge from our apartments, likely dressed as a twerkin’ teddy bear or in a yellow jump suit, let us not forget the true meaning of the holiday and what we’re really celebrating. Gather everyone ’round and give a big Jello shot cheers for America’s amazing consumer culture and for the gift of Halloween that lets us truly honor it.