Halloween has been rebranded, much like Christmas and Easter, to a day of fun and mischief. Halloween has roots in Gaelic festivals from Ireland where participants would celebrate the change from the “lighter half” of the year to the “darker half” much like a New Year’s celebration. The event incorporated elements from the festival of the dead where family ancestors were honored and invited home to ward off evil spirits. The Irish would wear masks to disguise themselves from the evil spirits and to protect them. The tradition also including stocking up on food like meat for the winter months. The English had their own version of Halloween just across the sea called All Hallows’ Evening that lead into the Christian All Saints Day holiday.
Today’s Halloween carries some of the traditions of yesteryear including bobbing for apples, masks and celebration, but today it is a fun time of year that has been taken to the extremes. We now have kids dressed as Disney characters and cartoons, adults dressed as silly puns and outfits they could wear any other time of the year instead of the protective masks used to ward off the spirits. We have replaced the harvest celebration with a glutinous forging of candy and alcohol as well as a new genre of movies – the horror movie.
I rather enjoy the season of make believe and creative costumes, but it shows us how a brand, even for a holiday, can change over time. I’m sure the Old Irish and English would be surprised to see Princess Jasmine and Freddy Krugger knock on the door innocently requesting candy.
What comes to mind when you think of Halloween? Candy corn, trick-or-treating, parties with friends, creepy decorations, haunted houses or an excuse to wear a skimpy outfit?