Here in the land down under, Halloween seems like a particularly American indulgence, not to mention a mighty blow to wallets everywhere. While the tradition grows every year in Oz, our Yankee buddies are definitely outspending us on the Halloween front.
In 2013 more than 150,000 million Americans celebrated Halloween and spent $7 billion at cash registers for the event — that’s around $75 a person. It’s the second-most expensive holiday of the year in the United States, beaten only by Christmas. Halloween pet costumes have been continually rising and Zombies are the new big business in the US, raking in $5 billion in 2013.
While the holiday is very commercialised now, Halloween originally started as a Celtic spiritual festival and later became a North American celebration based on rituals as communities passed through Autumn into Winter. Here in Australia we don’t have that ritual to follow and as the celebration seems to get bigger every year, some are saying this is due to American entertainment and commercialism.
A simple walk through a shopping centre during October brings up Halloween everywhere. There’s the emergence of sexy witches hats in fashion stores, not to mention the ready-to-be-carved pumpkins that have been specially flown in for the occasion. But one study showed that Halloween in Australia is felt to be the least important holiday. The older population in particular isn’t keen on Halloween, whether they see it as something entirely irrelevant or a modern sign of American imperialism. Yet the younger crowd is more likely to embrace the Halloween spirit and enjoy the freedom and fun that comes with dressing up and indulging in some candy.
It should be no surprise Halloween is taking hold of Oz — we do love our imported traditions and happily celebrate the idea of a White Christmas in sweltering heat. So while there’s no denying that Halloween is catching on in Australia: is it a harmless holiday fun or another commercial holiday that we should be hallo-weaned off?