Another Halloween has just ended and shops all over the United Kingdom have been busy totting up their takings in celebration of a bumper few weeks retailing leading up to the big night. As usual, pubs and restaurants have been mobbed as fancy-dressed revellers partied long into the dark, mysterious night. Such is the pulling power of Halloween these days that Christmas isn’t spoken about until well after the festival of All Hallows’ Eve has drifted off into the moonlight. It’s an incredible turnaround for this annual event when you consider that only 15 years ago it almost fizzled out completely without a whimper.
So what’s changed exactly? Well, there are a number of things that we can point to that may explain the sudden increase in popularity of Halloween. Perhaps, the biggest influence has come from the media, whose sudden interest in anything paranormal has quickly spawned a nationwide fascination with ghost hunting. Indeed, the popularity of television programmes such as Most Haunted Live and Ghost Hunting with The Chuckle Brothers have triggered national newspapers and magazines into suddenly taking notice of anything that can’t quite be explained. And when this media frenzy gets into full flow around the beginning of October, then all hell virtually breaks loose in a battle to bag the most ghoulish costume imaginable – the Chuckle Brothers actually won this contest last year without dressing up!
There is also the small matter of the amazing range of costumes that are now available. Chinese manufacturers already cater for the huge American market for fancy dress and British importers have recently tapped into this lucrative marketplace to ensure a massive range is available at extremely low prices. And all of a sudden revellers everywhere can now stage their very own Mardi Gras - even if you live in Milton Keynes!
Horror films have also become much more child-friendly. Films like Monsters Inc, Hotel Transylvania and Despicable Me, to name but a few, have introduced loveable characters that kids want to dress up as. And as a result, this widespread popularity of all things supernatural has now made Halloween as big a hit in the UK as it is in the States, with the previously more popular event – Guy Fawkes Night, rapidly becoming an afterthought just seven days later.
So it’s all good then, isn’t it? Well, if you’re in the business of making money – absolutely! However, the reality is that despite everyone and their aunt now being fascinated with the paranormal world, society in general is still no wiser in the pursuit for real knowledge of ghostly goings-on. In essence, we can have as much fun as we like in dressing up like our favourite witch, warlock or Chuckle Brother, but unless the media in general starts to engage with credible paranormal investigators or experienced spiritualist mediums rather than highlight the unsavoury endeavours of the winner of I’m a Z-list celebrity get me out of here, then Halloween shall remain as just a light-hearted bit of fun. And Ghost Hunting with Chas and Dave will remain as pointless as joining a council house waiting list in Chelsea.
But if the commercially-laden Christmas period has become less and less about Christianity these days, then maybe Halloween should just be classed along the same lines – a good excuse to have a right good party with friends and family. Sounds good to me!