Halloween used to be great. Like its peers, Christmas and Easter, the spooky tradition had its place firmly cemented within the year’s calendar. Supermarkets, fancy dress and toy shops would adorn their shelves with frightening gimmicks and attire, from skulls and fake blood to rubber weapons and pumpkins. Television channels across the board would clear their schedules for a variety of festive films and specials, like the traditional Hocus Pocus, or terrible B-movie The Blob. Houses around the country would horde bags of sweets, ready for the regular knock at the door, signalling children in various outfits were walking the local trick or treat circuit. While it was never a patch on the American’s appreciation of Halloween, everywhere made the effort. Whether it was a festoon of webbing across a window, a flickering pumpkin on a shelf, or a spider dangling from the ceiling, Halloween was an event you couldn’t avoid even if you wanted to.
That was thirteen years ago. Over time the popularity and participation in this enjoyable event has dwindled beyond sight, relegated to formulaic fancy dress nights at university bars, whose representatives sigh with relief that this is one weekend they don’t have to circulate the unoriginal wheel of ideas fiercely limited to ‘Back to School’ and ‘80s fever’. Supermarkets barely spare a shelf for Halloween based gimmickry any more (excluding, by popular demand, the apparently costume-laden saviour of Halloween, Asda), while television has gradually reduced its participation in themed programmes to the point that Sunday’s schedule is as monotonous as a weekend alone with Deborah Meaden. Even trick or treating appears to have lost its purpose, as children seem more likely to receive cash for their efforts instead of sweets. Is this what Halloween has been reduced to? Instead of the cheeky antics and tomfoolery of youth, we should now expect the shameless exploitation of a neighbour’s good will for profit?
The cause of this decline in popularity can be explained somewhat by the increasing time span of Christmas. Like the Sun exploding into a Red Giant, growing in mass and devouring everything in its path, the exponential expansion of Christmas appears to be mercilessly swallowing any festive event in its way. The point at which shops decide it’s time to begin their advertising campaign has slowly and unnoticeably crept through November to the middle of October, leaving Halloween to gasp desperately at the snow covered quicksand sucking it into oblivion.
Fans of Halloween should take heed of this warning, before the entity that is Christmas takes its next victim. Ignore it and it won’t be long before summer holidays are cancelled due to snow, birthdays will be eviscerated by holly and the Easter Bunny will be found murdered in his basket, a candy cane jutting from his jugular. By this time there will be no stopping it, until the insurmountable force envelops itself and we spend our entire year perpetually wrapping and unwrapping presents, spending uncomfortable amounts of time with detestable relatives and watching Home Alone until our eyes bleed.