So here we are, the final days before Halloween itself. What have you been up to? Have you finished decorating the house? Finally carved that pumpkin to perfection? Or are you just ignoring the whole thing and waiting for it to end? Maybe you didn’t even realise it was Halloween this Monday – almost sacrilegious, I know. I mean, how can you miss such a popular, in-your-face holiday such as Halloween?
But is it still popular? You’d be fooled into thinking so, and that it’s thriving even – this time of year we see celebrity talk show hosts filmed going round haunted houses for our entertainment, the supermarket aisles are still crammed with pumpkins, and America is spending a wonderful $1.9 billion on candy - but people have started to notice other things too. Many people online are reporting less and less trick-or-treaters out and about where there used to be hundreds, and more and more work places are loath to let their staff dress up on Halloween past a colourful headband of sorts. There are less horror themed television programmes showing around Halloween as of late, and most people are beginning to see Halloween itself as merely the beginning of the Christmas season. Why is this happening?
Well, the most simple answer is, times are changing. Urban legends and, sadly, some horrible truths mean that some parents feel happier with their children buying candy from the supermarket as opposed to demanding it from strangers and risking hidden razors or poisoned Pixystix (see Ronald Clark O’Bryan, dubbed The Man Who Killed Halloween), and why would television channels bother having horror movie nights when people are already watching whatever films they want to online? People are worried about dressing up at work as so many costumes now have negative connotations (dare I mention, the clowns of 2016) so better to play it safe by leaving the costumes to the parties. And this isn’t all – most of the creepier, darker aspects of Halloween have been adapted to be totally child friendly, such as séances and Ouija boards.
All of this sounds terribly pessimistic, I know, and you may be asking yourself, “Is this person telling me that Halloween is dying out?” In my most honest opinion – I think not. All of these facts, the new culture surrounding this ancient holiday, all of this tells us that Halloween is changing. It’s not what it used to be, and it never will be, but it’s not going anywhere. I know this because no matter how many things about the holiday change, there are still people like me who are counting down the days on their calendar, putting the last touches on their costume, collecting up those classic movies and gearing up for that big Halloween celebration they’ve been looking forward to all year. Yes, we Halloween fanatics are still at large, and with us are an array of people maybe not quite as enthralled with the holiday but just as happy to don a costume and join in with the celebrations.
Halloween is changing, just as it has been since the days of Samhain. I wonder what it will look like next year.
-Chloë Perrin 2016