With the pumpkins being loaded onto store shelves, halloween confectionary being sold on every street corner and thousands preparing their costumes nationwide, it is unsurprising that this festival is so popular in the UK. However, despite all of the fun involved, many are unaware of the true significance and value of Halloween, which in many parts of the world, is far from celebrated. How much do you know about this?


As one of the world’s oldest holidays, different countries have varying views on how to celebrate. This ranges from being a joyous occasion in America with children going trick-or-treating on October 31st, to the Japanese lighting a fire every night to show the ancestors where their families may be found, during the Halloween-equivalent ‘Obon Festival’. Therefore, since the traditional values which are upheld during the festival are remembering the deceased and Jack-o’-Lanterns used to frighten away evil spirits, is it appropriate to remodel such an event as a happy occasion?


In many sectors of the commercial industry, the potential for Halloween-related spending has been exploited year after year. For example, according to the American National Retail Federation, ‘over 67% of Halloween celebrants in 2014 planned to buy costumes for the holiday, with consumers planning to spend an average of $77 on candy, decorations, costumes and other holiday merchandise, with total spending expected to have reached $7.4 billion’. Considering that these are just the values for the USA, it can be easily understood how retailers encourage celebrating Halloween almost purely for fun and therefore, consumer expenditure.


However, as the years go by, many fail to consider how it is completely natural for festivities to be celebrated in different ways. Despite Halloween originally being a religious occasion, the fact that it is celebrated in an increasingly light-hearted manner may be better than a more serious occasion being forgotten and not acknowledged in any way. Through dressing up, buying sweets and carving pumpkins, the core message of upholding Halloween remains, just as it has done in previous centuries. Looking at the supermarkets and local independent businesses in Wallington alone, you can see all types of pumpkins, ghoul-like masks and ‘blood-filled’ cupcakes being proudly displayed.


So whether you are on your way to buy skeleton-themed chocolate or running up to doorsteps on October 31st, do so knowing that although a religious event, having world-wide as well as local celebrations simply increases awareness of Halloween!

Alicja Monaghan - Wallington High School for Girls