media darling

a personal record of how different forms of media and their content affect me (a college student)

How Halloween Has Hauntingly Changed October 30, 2008

Filed under: holidays and the media — katie @ 11:13 am
Tags: , , , , ,

In the spirit of Halloween, I started thinking about what the holiday originated from and how time and media have changed what it once was. When we think of Halloween, we think of trick-or-treating, candy, costumes, jack-o-laterns, ghosts, witches etc. Movies, TV, books and other forms of media have given us a much different idea of Halloween than the Old Irish Celtic festival it started as known as Samhain. According to Wikipedia, Samhain is a celebration of the end of the harvest season in Gaelic culture and the Gaelic people believed Oct. 31 was a night when the boundary between dead and alive vanished, and the dead haunted the living by causing sickness or damaging the crops they had stocked for the festival and winter. Costumes and masks were worn at the festival to mimic the evil spirits or pacify them.

So, obviously, we can gather where some of our current-day Halloween traditions have come from – like dressing up and celebrating on Oct. 31, but why are they so different and where did the new ones come from? More than likely, big corporations saw how popular Halloween was and began marketing it in a way that made the holiday accepted and loved by everyone. Today’s marketing creates more of a superficial scariness, because they want people to buy their products and buy into the Halloween silliness, instead of actually being scared that evil spirits are going to haunt them and destroy their winter crops.

I found a very applicable blog that enumerates exactly what it is I started thinking about in terms of Halloween and the media. Halloween as a Media Creation has several entries about many different aspects and themes of Halloween, and most of them have brief histories of the tradition and why it is different today.

I found some of them to be particularly interesting. One entry about “Halloween Candy” argues that the tradition of Halloween has been greatly influenced by media over the years and due to the high influence of the media, the handing out and consuming of candy on Halloween is practically the purpose of the holiday instead of the religious purpose it originally had. Because candy manufacturers change their marketing during Halloween season, people are influenced and buy more of it in the spirit of the holiday and change what Halloween used to be about.

Another funny blog I thought was intriguing is the one about “Slutty Costumes.” As a female college student, there is a lot of pressure to look sexy, and feel comfortable with looking “slutty” on Halloween – and it’s actually difficult to find a good costume that isn’t revealing or sexy. This blog talks about why women can only find “The Sexy Nurse,” “The Sexy Maid,” or “The Sexy Cop” and says that the media has influence on costumes because of the amount of sex in TV, movies, magazines, etc.

Don’t be scared away from Halloween this year, just be aware of what it once was and how we give into marketing, and that media influences us so easily that we transform religious holidays.


One Response to “How Halloween Has Hauntingly Changed”

  1. ricksrss Says:

    Good post. What happened to the days of dressing up as a witch or ghost?

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