veritas exquirere

Art by Aidan Scott//Staff Artist

Halloween is one big and spooky advertising scheme

The truth about American holidays

October 28, 2018

Fall is in the air and the breeze that once carried spirited festivities and elongated breaks from school to spend some quality family time, now carries a hint of commercialization, disguised with the scent of pumpkin spice lattes, haunted houses and an influx of Halloween sales.

Hallow’s eve is fast approaching along with Thanksgiving, Hanukkah, Christmas and Kwanzaa; the time has finally come when stores can put up stretched cotton webs matched with disproportionately large and hairy plastic spiders, in a needy attempt to create an atmosphere of holiday fun.

Our country is exceptionally guilty of commercializing the holiday seasons. What I mean by commercializing is simple: we take popular festivities in our country such as Labor Day, Memorial Day, Valentine’s Day and even Christmas and we bury the original purpose of the holiday with outrageous sales, barbeques and alcohol consumption to make a profit off of the public’s jolly spending mood.

Although the holidays officially start at the end of October, if you were to walk into your local supermarket in the middle of September, you would probably see the roots of commercialization beginning to sprout. Stacks of pumpkins outside of Pavilions, enormous five dollar pumpkin pies at Costco, the long-awaited seasonal revival of pumpkin spice lattes and the daring Halloween Horror Nights open at Universal Studios.

What does throwing a barbeque and having a Buy One Get One Free sale have to do with commemorating those who gave their lives for their country? How does giving someone you love a box of chocolates celebrate a martyred saint?

I bet if you asked any kid what Halloween is about they’d say candy, costumes or trick-or-treating. Heck, if you asked most adults they would probably say the same thing, maybe with a few additional safety concerns.

In reality, Halloween began as a Celtic ritual marking the end of the harvest season and welcoming winter, concerning nothing about going around a poorly-lit neighborhood at night and knocking on strangers’ doors praying that this time they don’t give you pretzels.

Halloween is one of my favorite holidays — I’ll take any excuse to run around dressed up in some whack costume with my friends.

However, I need to call attention to the economic greed encumbering this country.

Everyone knows America is a country built upon capitalism. But does this undeniable truth mean we must let it soak into our holiday spirit and rid festivities of the hearts and souls that fuel the essence of our celebration in exchange for greater pay or a better sale?

Opposers will say that the cute decorations and pretty lights add to the ambience of the holiday spirit and don’t harm anyone.

But, think about the employees that are ringing up those cute shoes you finally got your hands on for Black Friday. Those on the other side of the cash register that don’t get to go home to their families because, perhaps, they need extra money for basic necessities. If you believe it’s their choice and the environment of commercialization has nothing to do with it, consider the fact that employees working on holidays receive extra pay as an incentive to come in on holidays. Not to mention that under federal law, a holiday is seen as another business day where there is no requirement for time off.

We need a serious reminder about what the holidays are truly about: your family. Not about how much money you can spend or who will win the neighborhood house decorating contest. But actually looking within that house and taking the time to get to know one another.

Maybe this holiday season try something new like making your costume instead of purchasing one at Target, or staying at Thanksgiving dinner instead of going Black Friday shopping, or even baking some cute and trendy holiday-themed snacks with your friends, instead of buying a pie from Costco.

Because, currently, we take popular holidays and do what Americans do best: advertise and brand them to the point of insignificance. Then, we spin the merchandise to suppliers’ advantage, where they control what sells, when it sells and how much of it sells, leaving consumers begging for more.

Holidays no longer have anything to do with spending time with your family, or taking off much needed time from work or school. Rather holidays are about seeing how much money a business can bring in during hectic holiday sales.

Simply put, we are all the salesmen — the ones with eyes shining green as we look over the cash register, past the human being that stands there, snatching the money, ringing the register and then on to the next one in line. Here in America, if money were a kale salad, we would all be vegans.

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