An Essay on the Importance of Halloween in American Society

Halloween has become one of the most celebrated retail holidays in our American culture although the roots of the holiday are shrouded in religious beliefs that have survived from the beginning of time. Think of Halloween and visions of costumes, jack-o-lanterns and candy appear. Lots of candy! But the earliest celebrations of Halloween symbolize the eternal struggle between good vs. evil which is still representative in our society today.

According to Maggie Black, Halloween, All Hallows Eve or Hallowtide includes Halloween evening and the feast of All Saints followed by All Souls’ Day (October 31st to November 2nd) and has a history rich in religious traditions that originated with the Celtic feast of Samhain which celebrated the end of summer and the harvest. (60) The Celts believed that on Halloween the dead walked the earth again and this brought much fear to the people. (60) Early agricultural societies revolved around the seasons and as summer traveled into fall and the warming influence of the sun waned, they began preparations for the long hard winters. The bounty that was evident from the summer harvest provided the perfect backdrop for a celebration. The Celts looked to the seasons to answer questions they had about their own existence and I believe this natural progression of the seasons caused them to try to explain how they thought their world operated back then.

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During the harvest celebration, the Celts also celebrated their dead which is also explained by the season of fall and associated with death. Bonfires were lit to drive the evil demons away and protect the souls that were still earthbound. Great feasts were held to celebrate the bounty of the harvest and religious rites were performed to purify the people for another year so they could produce another bountiful harvest the following year. As Christianity developed throughout the world, some of the more basic traditions from the Celts followed with the Halloween holiday. Gradually, demons became witches and Halloween in America settled into a celebration of the harvest and the bounty that the summer produced.

I recall as a child attending Halloween parties that were focused on the harvest of fall. Apples, nuts, pumpkins and gourds were readily found in the fall. Pumpkins were carved to symbolize laughing or crazy faces as if to mock the evil spirits from long ago. Costumes were worn as a disguise and I wondered if that was so the evil would not recognize my true form and find me. These Halloween traditions have followed us into the Twenty First Century.

Halloween has become one of the most important retail holidays celebrated in America today. At its humble beginnings, Halloween consisted of carved pumpkins and homemade costumes and Trick-or-Treat. I remember the thrill when I tromped up to a neighbor’s house all dressed up in a disguise and shouted out, “Trick or Treat!” It was equally thrilling when a full size Milky Way bar or some other precious sweet that I loved was deposited into my treat bag.

The retail phenomenon began about fifteen years ago. Suddenly, everyone had a lawn display that consisted of ghoulish graveyards, huge blowup Frankenstein monsters or black cauldrons boiling some smelly concoction. Hidden stereos spewed forth scary sounds in decibels high enough to make your toes curl! Neighborhoods had contests with one another and their neighbor’s yards were crammed with every imaginable Halloween decoration that is available for sale today.

outdoor-halloween-decorations

(Image credit: Outdoor Halloween Decorations)

“Halloween is becoming more sophisticated as people start taking their celebrating seriously,” says Kathy Grannis, a spokesperson for the National Retail Federation. “It’s a fun, stress-free holiday that allows you to be as creative as you want to be.” (Herbst 1) Coupled with that, the retailers want you to spend your money on their Halloween themed items. Halloween displays typically show up in stores across America before the kids have gone back to school in many cities! Halloween is big money in the retail world and we Americans have created a monster in sales.

“The average American will spend nearly $60 to celebrate Halloween this year. Consumers spend the most on costumes, averaging about $22 a person, followed by decorations, candy, and greeting cards.” (Herbst 1) Decorations are fueling the retail industry. Everyone wants to recreate their favorite horror movie scene or have the best graveyard on the block. No Halloween party in America is complete without cobwebs and giant spiders stretched across your ceiling! Besides that, the retailers remind us with every advertising venue possible that it is not fun to Trick or Treat at a house with no decorations!

Halloween is fun because it allows everybody to let loose and be something they are not. When you buy into Halloween, you buy into the fantasy of Halloween. Because our unemployment percentages are at the highest levels in years and so many people are out of work, Halloween has become the ultimate way to pretend that your life is better. As Americans, we need diversions that give us cause for celebration. Halloween does that. It’s the one night a year to live in a fantasy and then return to the reality of your life the next day.

Halloween is still about the fall season and signifies the first holiday of the traditional American holiday season. Just like the Celts long ago celebrated the harvest and the end of the summer, today we share the same thirst for the fall celebration. The religious overtones of the holiday have been replaced with a more commercial view of Halloween that is like an offering and a hope to keep all that is evil at bay. I think the Celts would understand.

Works Cited

Black, Maggie. “Saints and Soul-caking.” History Today 31.11 (1981): 60. Academic Search Complete. EBSCO. Web. 9 Oct. 2010.

Herbst, Moira. “The Booming Business of Halloween.” BusinessWeek Online (2006): 1. Academic SearchComplete. EBSCO. Web. 9 Oct. 2010.

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Thanks for stopping by to see what I am up to.  It is Halloween Week and I look forward to seeing you again!

Silver Threading

Gratitude Sunday–Holidays

Gratitude Sunday

As part of Colline’s Gratitude Project, I would like to say how thankful I am for holidays.  Halloween is just around the corner and I dearly miss the days when my children were still home getting ready for Trick-or-Treat.  I loved carving pumpkins and all the fuss that came at that time of the year.

Everything about the holiday in our home, had to do with family.  With five kids it was always fun to dream up costumes that we could do ourselves.  It took many days of planning and brain storming to come up with ideas that the kids really loved.

Halloween 1991

We always had someone who wanted to be a vampire (Tabitha), or the walking dead (Amy).  Billy lucked out that year and got to dress up like the Cracker Jack guy.

Even our all black Pomeranian, Pu-Chai, got into the holiday.  One year, Tabitha made bat wings we attached to the dog.  He proudly went Trick-or-Treating with the kids showing off his wings.  No matter what, we always had fun.

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Even today, my artistic daughter Tabitha still loves to dress up and attend Halloween parties.  Her Mexican Day of the Dead costume is dead-on!  (No pun intended). Smile  I plan on giving out candy on Halloween night.  What do you do to celebrate the holiday?

Thanks for creeping by to see what scary things I am up to.  I’ll see you again,

Silver Threading

Pixel Prose Challenge: The Weeping Lady

The Slough

The time of darkness is almost upon us,

as swirling fog, damp with moisture clings

to deep black silhouettes of trees

starkly lit by the greyness of the evening sky.

Night birds scatter – inky shadows flitting about

nearing the barren edges of the slough,

as falling leaves shower the grasses

stirring in the cool drafts of the night.

Darkness descends, a blanket of ebony gloom

enveloping and protecting, holding her tight

as the weeping lady sings lyrics dipped in fright

glorifying her impending doom.

ghost_in_the_forest_by_korekutazu-d4p1rer

(Photo credit: Ghost in the Forest)

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I hope you enjoyed my scary poem just in time for Halloween.  I can’t wait to scare see you again,

Silver Threading

The Agreement

The Agreement

With the approach of Halloween just around the corner, I could not resist having some fun with Ronovan Writes Haiku Challenge for this week using the words: Promise and Gift.  I used to work for attorneys, so I feel qualified to give a dig to the profession. ❤

I created this Haiku using Picmonkey and really like the results.  It is fun to experiment and try new things.  Bring Haiku into it and I am really excited!

Thanking for popping over to see what I am up to.  I will see you all again,

Silver Threading

Weekly Haiku Prompt 12 – Study & Creature

Frankenstein Haiku

(Image Credit: FreeBooks.com)

Ronovan’s Weekly Haiku Challenge and my Blogging 101 Class are combining for me today.

Mary Shelley is one of my favorite authors and I wanted to honor her and the month of October with this creation!

Ronovan Weekly Haiku Challenge

Badge provided by DazzlingWhimsy.

Thanks for your visit today.  I know I will see you again!

Silver Threading

Autumn Musings

I see it is that time of year again – Fall, Autumn… pumpkin everything!  Everywhere I go all I see is preparations for holiday celebrations.  Facebook and Pintrest make me gain weight every time I glance at their luscious recipes for cookies, cakes and donuts.  Yes, Halloween donuts.  Apparently hosting a Halloween donut decorating party is all the rage!  Who knew?

halloween donuts

(Image from Pinterest , Your Home Based Mom, 9/14/14)

Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas!  Each year the holiday madness creeps in sooner and sooner until the holidays seem to blend together into one long celebration called Hallothanksmas!

I took marketing classes and I do understand the need for our free market society to constantly remind us of our duty as Americans – shop until you drop!  Nevertheless, I do long for the days when I was a child when each separate holiday seemed magical.  Even my kids remember the holidays with a fondness.  Back then, there were three holidays: Halloween, Thanksgiving and Christmas – separate dates and times with time to emotionally recover from each one.

walmartfalldecor

(Image of Wal-Mart Fall Decorations from The Domestic Diva on 9/14/14)

While our media bombards the consumers with all of this holiday shopping madness you would think that I would be immune to some of these tactics.  Not true.  I succumbed to the worst Fall enticement of all!

Maple Bacon cookies!  A limited edition no less.  AND, there was maple frosting for the cookies!

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The instructions were just too easy!

Empty the package and add 1/2 cup of butter and one egg per package of cookie mix.

I substituted coconut oil to attempt to make them somewhat healthy. 

In addition, I made two packages so, I doubled the eggs and coconut oil. 

I mixed the cookies with my hand mixer, and I added chocolate chips and  flaked coconut.  I did not measure the additions. I just added small amounts to the batter.

I placed the mixture in a cake pan that I sprayed with Pam so it would not stick. 

I baked the cookies for about 45 minutes in an oven set at 350 degrees.

Once they were finished baking and I let them cool off, I spread the maple frosting.

It is football Sunday so, I used that as my excuse to make these cookies for my husband.  You know, so he would have a snack while he was watching the games.  Smile

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As you can see, the cookies were a hit!  I refuse to remove the lid for the photo.  One more whiff of that maple smell and those cookies will be attached to my hips forever!!

Of course this means that I will have to walk four miles tomorrow and eat salad all week. MMMM Maple Bacon Cookies.

Thanks for stopping by to visit.  I always enjoying seeing you!

Silver Threading