Ah October, the weather is getting cooler, the leaves are turning, and the best holiday of all, Halloween (aka Samhain to us Pagan types) quickly approaches. Since the Halloween season is only second to Christmas in spending and activity, it’s only natural that the journalists want to find a unique angle. This year’s theme seems to be about the holiday’s discontents.
“She hosts a monthly girls’ night out at a bar in Portland, Ore., and co-runs a plus-size vintage boutique called Fat Fancy. But there’s one thing that brings out the hate in her. Smith, 33, is among a contrarian contingent that takes a boo humbug approach to Halloween … Halloween haters aren’t as easy to categorize as that odd old lady on the block who always pretends that she’s not home on Oct. 31, or people who protest the day on religious grounds. The new Halloween Hater is young, loud and proud.”
Yes, the Associated Press found some “contrarians” and are calling it a trend, they even dug up Jerilyn Ross, president of the Anxiety Disorders Association of America, to give us the awesome term of “samhainophobia”, the fear of Halloween. Yes, we were obviously having too much fun last year, so this year, in honor of the recession, we have to dial it down a bit.
“Last year, we collectively shelled out $5.77 billion on everything from fun-sized candy bars to plastic gravestones for the front yard. This year is another story: according to a study by the National Retail Federation, that number is expected to drop to $4.75 billion this year. The recession has hit home for many more of us this year, and escapism has given way to pragmatism. Close to one in three say the economy is impacting their Halloween spending. Similarly, a recent Pricegrabber.com survey shows that 35 percent of us plan to spend less this Halloween.”
The blood-curling terror of the tightening belt! Even this year’s hit scary movie is low-budget! Meanwhile, another paper turns up its nose at Salem’s witch-hats and plastic capes in favor of a more cultured, well-mannered, tourist-excursion.
“Go to Salem this time of year for the witches. But if you’re like us, the things you’ll remember are the culture, history and flashes of foliage … But consider making it an overnight, and getting all the city has to offer — high art alongside hokey tourist traps (Dracula’s Castle); fascinating history alongside kitchy kiosks selling T-shirts that quip, “Stop by Salem for a spell;” magnificent architecture playing home to the city’s annual dubious celebration (commemoration?) of a 300-year-old tragedy. It’s one of the oddest (and most effective) marketing strategies of any city in the world: Come to Salem where 19 innocent women and men were hanged for being witches, and while you’re here, enjoy a visit to the Witch Dungeon!”
But no matter how hard some may try to ignore the ever-booming Witch craze in Salem, it’s still their top tourist money-maker, and neighboring cities want in on the action. Naturally a wrap-up like this can’t end without some Christian hand-wringing over the occult overtones of Halloween, and thanks to the BBC we’ve found a real fire-breather!
“Derry City Council’s Hallowe’en carnival encourages Satanism and has brought a curse on the city, according to a Methodist minister. Rev Jonathan Campbell, from Newbuildings Independent Methodist Church, has launched an online petition to stop this year’s event. He said Hallowe’en celebrations “make evil look innocent”, and has appealed for families to boycott the festival … Rev Campbell said his church was opposed to Hallowe’en because it was “one of the two major days for Satanists”, and “God’s word clearly condemns and warns people about celebrating or glorifying Hallowe’en or the occult”. “One of the main reasons we as a church are opposed to the carnival is that children are being disturbed”.”
Someones disturbed, but I don’t think its the “children”. Still, it almost doesn’t seem like a true Halloween without some Christian crank blowing a gasket in the press. As for the press, I could certainly do without all the subtle “maybe we shouldn’t have so much fun in these bad times” hoo-ha, because if you can’t put on a mask, eat a little (or a lot of ) candy, have a little fun, and honor the dead to boot, what’s the point of even celebrating Halloween/Samhain?