So here we are: tomorrow is Halloween. After weeks of decorating homes, preparing Halloween costumes, and deciding on which candy to hand out, the day of reckoning has finally arrived. You can practically taste the anticipation in the air.
Since today’s blog post is the last before the actual day of Halloween, I felt it would be a great opportunity to look at Halloween through the numbers – money, data, percentages – a bunch of boring stuff that means a whole lot if you actually look at it.
Case and point: The total Halloween consumer spending expected for 2012 equals $8 billion. That’s right – Americans spent a collected $8 billion on costumes, candy, decorations, and all sorts of other goodies. That’s a monstrous chunk of change.
And there’s a whole lot more information to follow:
- Percentage of Americans celebrating Halloween this year: 71.5%
- Potential trick-or-treaters ages 5-14: 41 million
- Amount Americans spend on candy, costumes, and decorations: $79.82 per individual.
- Years since the premiere of the classic TV Special, “It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown!”: 46
- Percent of pets dressed up like a pumpkin: 12.7%
- Percentage of adults dressing as a witch: 9.5%
- Estimated number of haunted houses that charge admission in the United States: 1,200
- Box office earnings of horror movies in 2011: $410.6 million
- Pounds of candy corn produced each year: 35 million
- Percentage of individuals who had objections to Halloween on religious grounds: 11%
Okay, let’s stop there and talk for a minute: I’m interested in that last fact, the one about religious objections to Halloween. The fact that some individuals still view Halloween as some sort of anti-religious / religious holiday is baffling, as the holiday has become one of the most commercialized holidays in American history. Just look at the first fact above – Americans spent $8 billion on Halloween this year.
Another interesting fact from above: only two-thirds of the American population plan on celebrating Halloween. What are the other one-third doing? Even if someone skips out on the trick-or-treating or handing out candy, many work places encourage wearing costumes for the holiday. How can someone just skip Halloween? It’s a holiday that runs deep in the American marrow.
In fact, I have a hard time thinking of any other holiday that screams American as much as Halloween. We spend money on costumes that are worn only once or twice per year. We buy excessive amounts of candy crammed with sugars and artificial ingredients. We revel in gore and violence and fear.
And while all of this may appear to showcase Americans as self-absorbed and consumptive, the intent of these actions actually goes against such notions. Americans buy candy so as to hand them out to children, who are encouraged to enter into a world free from the horrors of reality. These children are shown that the world can be scary, yes, but scary can be entertaining. You can scream in fear and then laugh it off – a lesson that many adults could do well to remember.
Costumes allow expressions of internal desires and thoughts. The very ability to express such things runs parallel to the American culture’s love for personal freedom. We want to be able to wear silly costumes and run wild through the streets and be rebels or heroes or villains or whatever, because personal expression means something to Americans.
At its core, Halloween is a holiday about laughing in the face of reality and standing strong for personal expression. It’s about understanding that, yes, bad things happen and people die and hurricanes can wipe away your home, that’s a fact of life. But so is creative and personal expression, laughing, smiling, feeling the comedown of adrenaline after an intense fright, whether real or imaginary – all behavioral actions that come with intense euphoric emotions. They make you feel alive and energized. They make you feel human.
So I challenge you, reader, during the day of Halloween tomorrow, whether you are handing out candy or partying or trick-or-treating with a child, breathe deep the atmosphere and let life fill your veins.
Because it’s Halloween.
Because you’re alive.