October 31, 2012
Is Halloween getting out of hand or is it me?
(Oh yes, Happy Halloween, everybody.)
According to recent statistics we spend over $2.5 billion a year to cobweb our homes and another $1.5 to make us look like idiots.
It's now the second most popular holiday in America, next to Thanksgiving.
Halloween, as you may know, is shortened from "All Hallows' Day. It was originally designated as the day Christians would celebrate the anniversary of a martyr's death for Christ around 600 A.D.
It wasn’t long before Pagans, who knew a good thing when they saw one, took it over and claimed that disembodied spirits of those who had died the last year would return in search of living bodies to possess for the next year.
Yep, that kind of started things.
We can thank our Irish immigrants, fleeing from the potato famine, for bringing this custom to America in 1840. Soon, the favorite pranks in New England, where they settled, were fun things like tipping over outhouses and unhinging fence gates. All stemming from something called mischief night, which presumably kept the spirits occupied, and eventually appeased by "Trick or Treating."
The Irish also took a look at our domestic pumpkin and it was love at first slice. Instead of their native rutabaga, they had something substantial to carve their Jack O’ Lantern in.
No state, by the way, cheers this holiday more than Illinois, producing 500 million pounds of orange fruit every year.
Now that we know a little about how Halloween began, it still doesn’t explain why we embrace all this spookiness. And why we believe the ghost of Abigail Adams still haunts the White House (I know I do). Not to mention superstitions like, if nobody talks during dinner, known as “Dumb Supper,” it will encourage the spirits of relatives to come to the table. (I'll be a chatterbox tonight. You don't know my relatives.)
Clinical psychologist David Rudd at Texas Tech takes a whack at explaining it all.
“People like being scared because they enjoy the autonomic arousal and the associated safety of, say, a scary movie, because it gives them the rush without the risk.”"
So let's get down to some serious business.
The new Halloween costumes are heavily influenced by what you see on the fashion runways, in the movies and on TV,” says Melissa Sprich, Party City Merchandise Manager of Costumes and Accessories. According to Variety, “The top costume are crime-fighting Batman Dark Knight, Transformers' "Optimus Prime," High School Musical's "Gabriella," Indiana Jones and Hannah Montana. With Sarah Palin coming on strong.
And I would imagine if I’m reaching you in Tombstone, Arizona, or Cape Fear, North Carolina, you’ve got a ghoulish leg up on the proceedings.
So...if you're partying, who are you going as? What do you like to keep around for the little "monsters?" Or are you going to turn the lights out and just watch a scary movie?