Halloween – Ghastly frights and corporate delights

So, like any other evening, I was taking the crowded Central Line on the way to meet a friend. I was lost in my own thoughts until I realised I was sitting opposite a zombie. Yes, a zombie. And then it occurred to me that of course: it was Halloween. It didn’t take long for the rest of the tube to be filled with blood sucking vampires, one eyed monsters and people dressed in giant pumpkin suits.

I sat there watching everyone getting ready for a horror filled night and realised how much money companies must make on the sale of Halloween related items. The revenue forecast for retailers is £330m in the UK alone (Guardian). As with any other form of celebration, it’s become a commercial festivity as opposed to what it is really intended for. How many people actually know the origins of Halloween? I know I certainly didn’t. To me, it was just parties and free sweets from strange people’s houses. And this is exactly what businesses thrive from. To have the best Halloween (particularly with kids) you must buy the biggest pumpkin, have the scariest costume and give out the tastiest treats. And all this combined doesn’t do many favours for your wallet.

So just in case you were wondering the origins of Halloween, it’s an ancient Celtic tradition also known as Sahmain, where it was believed that on October 31, the dead would cross over to the other side and walk among the living.

Now I’m pretty sure carving a pumpkin and giving sweets to children won’t stop the dead from haunting us, but there’s one thing it certainly is doing: generating revenue.

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