I know. I know. I’m such a blowhard killjoy, what with pillorying the use of the ‘C’ word anytime before December. Hence a change of target for today. That’s the ‘H’ word.
Last night (Monday) was, as you know, Halloween. As with most festivals this harks back to pagan times, specifically to Samhain, the Celtic new year. It was believed that the spirits of people who had died during the previous year could now cross over to the other side, having had the opportunity to socialise a bit with the living. Typically the Church then appropriated the day for religious purposes, and Samhain became the day before All Saint’s Day.
All fine and dandy, I suppose, but as with other festivals of real significance it’s been hijacked by the gods of Mammon. Much like Mother’s Day. I’ve had a pop at that spendfest too.
Some figures. In the US, over 80% of households get decked up for Halloween. That’s a lot of people hanging fake spiders all over the place with not a clue of the significance of the day. In the process, in 2015 they blew $6.0bn on tat and sweeties for trick or treaters.
By the way, there’s a widespread belief among grumpy Brits that ToT is an example of US-based mission creep, but it’s not. The giving of gifts at this time of year also goes back at least as far as Samhain. You’ve no idea how much it distresses me to be unable to blame the Americans for this phenomenon.
The scale of the mission-creep-that-isn’t is colossal. Truly staggering. In the UK we now blow £283m on Halloween products. This means we now spend more on being bogeymen and vampires than we do on that other perennial moneyspinner Valentine’s Day. The 283 mill doesn’t include sweeties for the teeny tots dressed as ET who will egg your windows if you tell them to bugger off.
There are weird aspects to all this too. Several police forces in the UK had threatened to arrest any ToT scroungers if they were dressed as clowns. I imagine this was a reaction to the widespread hysteria about the non-problem of killer clowns, and doesn’t strike me as a particularly good use of police time when you have top wait two hours to turn up if you’ve been burgled. Having said that, if you’re up to speed, you’ll know I’d arrest anybody dressed as a clown at any time of the year.
On the upside, kudos to the town of Belleville in Illinois. Anybody over the age of 12 going door to door can be fined between $100 and $1000 dollars. Huzzah!
Just to show I’m not all grouch, this made me larf.