For centuries, the celebration of Hallowe’en has withstood the opposition of disapproving entities such as religious hierarchy, government officials, and superstitious populace. Currently the ancient holiday is being criticized by a growing number of fundamentalists.
The accuracy of the historic roots of the famed harvest festival are still argued by scholars worldwide; however the origin of the festival is believed by most to have evolved from pagan tradition. The influence of the ancient Celtic pagan festival known as “Samhain” has been widely accepted as the predecessor to the modern day version of the haunting holiday. Early tradition included the belief that departed souls would visit the living on Hallowe’en night; Christian observance would follow on November 1st – “all saints day”.
Eerily feeding the mortals fascination of breaching the boundary between life and death, Halloween has been glorified by novels, tales, media and cinema. The obsession with the dark festival has manifested its continuous resurrection – despite numerous global adversaries. Some present day Witches, neo-pagans and Wiccans revere the festival of “Samhain – the new year” - as truly spiritual, by honoring the deceased and celebrating the cycle of reincarnation.
The public transformation of Halloween from harvest festival, to honoring the dead, to costume eccentricity has defied controlled order; the festival has now evolved into a commercial holiday rivaling Christmas. Celebrated October 31st, the holiday continues to evolve and spread worldwide – in further defiance of the increasing pressures from many religious organizations. News stories concerning the Vaticans condemnation of Halloween on October 31, 2009, were later countered by damage control experts deflecting the articles – arguably to prevent alienating youth from church membership.
While the anticipation and exuberance of “trick-or-treating” in costume remains the attraction to millions of children around the globe, the role playing innuendo allows adults to stray from conservatism undaunted. Halloween has surreptitiously regained its pagan fertility; merging fantasy and costumery with sexuality – while honoring the mysterious dark side – feeding on the human instinct.
Although adults have conveniently masqueraded sexuality in an excusable, yet acceptable atmosphere on Halloween, the transformation to erotic Halloween costumery has inundated the teen market as well. Not only have the boundaries between the living and the dead been crossed on Halloween – the religious right has proclaimed that the boundaries for costume guidelines have been crossed even more.
Merging gothic influence, paganism, vampirism, sexuality and occultism together, Hallowe’en may very well have succeeded in pleasing the heathen ghosts from centuries ago – much to the disapproval of conservatives universally.
Halloweens advantage over its adversaries is also bolstered by its ability to reinforce the economy – 1.6 billion dollars was spent on Halloween candy last year in the US. According to the National Retailers Association, approximately 2 billion dollars was spent on costumes. In addition, 1.7 Billion dollars will be spent on Halloween decorations in the US this year. Adding alcohol, food, party supplies, rentals and events to the list - the total estimated flow of US Halloween Dollars is a staggering 9 Billion dollars.
As millions more people become infected with Hallowe’en fever around the globe each year, and the spending increases economic movement, opponents of the pagan holiday lose influence. The souls of the departed have emerged to repeatedly defy the conservative world order – and the ghosts of Hallowe’en continue to win.