Ghouls, witches, vampires, fake blood, zombies, devils horns, fake pumpkins, plastic everything. In other words the tasteless merchandizing of all things sinister: would that be a fair summary of most people’s perception of Halloween (October 31st in case you missed it) these days?
Like many festivals, Halloween, which has its Celtic origins in a ritual funeral feast, has been packaged and commercialised ad nauseum. The range of merchandise now available, thanks to our friend “Made in China”, is overwhelming. In Catalunya, the traditional family festival of La Castanyada, which falls on the same day, has been somewhat eclipsed by the lure of the ubiquitious Halloween party.
Such is the global reach of brand USA. I suggest that Halloween is the product of a typical US/Hollywood style business model that has gone global, whether its Harry Potter, a Royal Wedding, Valentine’s Day or of course Christmas. It goes like this - find something - anything, a date, a person or a story.Then market it, usually by swamping everyone with a totally airbrushed version of it: via films, TV series or viral video. Then the endgame: the merchandise – dvds, games, cards and of course, the gear. Finally, sit back and let the consumers do the rest. Granted, it’s a successful model and its still going strong.
But for how long? Consumerism (especially of plastic) is beginning to look somewhat dated. Europe certainly has so many competing traditional feasts, Could Halloween be nearing its sell-by date here?
This may be wishful thinking. Across the Atlantic, folk will continue to embrace the traditional along with the commercial, as they have done so successfully over the years. Somehow they manage to project the illusion of old-worldly charm – baking cookies, carving real pumpkins that glow warmly in the dark, trick or treating in manicured neighbourhoods, while making sure that consumers well, keep consuming. And then will we in Europe watch yet another film about it and rush out to buy more plastic pumpkins or similar tat? How on earth do they (or we) do it?