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Why Such Popularity for Halloween, Neewollah, Harvest Festivals and Autumn Costume Parties?

Updated on October 1, 2012

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Just as retail marketing and event planning have usurped the Patriotic Holidays and turned them into gala sales and party events (see embedded link), so have they absconded with Halloween and all its alternatives. This is easy to accomplish, since the holiday falls in between July Fourth and Veteran's Day. It gets swept up in the retail calendar of extravaganzas.

Preparations for the Big Holiday Season in retail that extends at least 7 months from Memorial Day through New Year's Day begin a year ahead of time, just as the Rose Parade float makers begin on next year's design immediately after each year's parade.

Not the Big Lots Girl!
Not the Big Lots Girl! | Source

Big Lots has made a career of offering holiday fare three months early, and again this year I saw the October Jack-o-Lantern day begin in the aisles of Big Lots in late July. With the cute new addition of the Exclamation Point Girl in recent years, Big Lots builds business` by being early and more entertaining for each holiday. However, many other stores start in August.

Thus, consistent and early advertising has made Halloween and its alternatives quite popular. Kids see the TV ads and start asking for costumes and candy. The adults join in as they see the HUGE seasonal costume stores and the country is suddenly overflowing in the holiday. In fact, in my large city, one Halloween Store (that's it's name) stays open all year round.

Media Muscles

Media and advertising of all kinds are really strong influences. It is because of a single woman in retail advertising in 1840 that we see Pilgrims every Thanksgiving, when in truth, Pilgrims did not come to America nor celebrate that First Thanksgiving. See There Was No Pie At Thanksgiving.



The Church may not realize this, but in offering a number of alternatives to the October holiday, they provide retailers with an additional target market. Plenty of Harvest Festival decorations and party supplies are available at large and small party stores, department stores like Kohl's, and of course - Big Lots.

Besides that, Fall Festival Tours and Farm Market hopping draw more customers for October pumpkins to carve, and why not buy a straw scarecrow, too? Farm Markets have joined the holiday competition for the holiday dollars.

Neewollah is "Halloween" backwards at church and uses the same party supplies and costumes, except no devils and witches. The churches don't seem to criticize the traditional holiday in my area, they just offer the alternative. Considering this, I wish more people knew about the murderous tradition and events behind the witch's green face. Many women were mutilated without cause (what cause is ever justified?) during those times (see embedded link).

In some places, Halloween- and alternative supporters rather campaign against each other. On some highways, you'll see anti-halloween billboards that are expensive. I think the controversy raised by the two groups creates more advertising and thus, more Halloween business.

Pow Wows and Parties

Some Native American groups celebrate their usual Pow Wows in October without acknowledging Halloween at all. This is another alternative - to ignore the retail holiday.

Halloween parties for adults often include skimpy costumes and alcohol, and many Americans like both of those options.

Bars and taverns throw Halloween Night Specials, costume contests are held in the streets outside a strip of taverns, etc. With enough security and designated drivers, these options can be safer than one might think.

These types of celebrations dump a boatload of money into retailers' pockets. For example, a recent catalog in 2012, a year in which some Americans were still feeling the effects of recession, advertised costumes for all ages at $19.99 to $79.99. Personally, I know people that are skipping paying their utilities in favor of purchasing costumes. The holiday is more popular to them than the proverbial Christmastide keeping-up-with-the-Joneses spending.


Haunted Haunts and Other Places

Haunted houses in my city - and maybe yours - grow bigger and more attractive to the public every year with added rooms and gimmicks. We also have haunted barns with hayrides and food, haunted State Park hikes at midnight, a haunted castle, haunted historical mansions from the Underground Railroad, Haunted Movies Night (sometimes a marathon of films), Haunted Grocery Aisles at chain supermarkets, and many more.

Many people love the thrill of being temporarily frightened in these venues. They think it is fun and I don't know about Canada, but the USA is becoming more crowded with these sites every year. Michael Jackson's Thriller certainly boosted the holiday! So did Tim Burton's Nightmare Before Christmas.

Remember how the neighbors used to try to outdo each other with Christmas lights? Well, in my city, the same thing happens for Halloween. Competition drives the expansion of the holiday among neighbors via Halloween Lights. Bronner's CHRISTmas Wonderland in Michigan even has a Halloween Department and a large online mail order business!

Altogether Thrilling

Halloween must be so popular in the USA because of all the planned and unplanned attention the holiday and its alternatives receive. In addition, people make it more and more fun with their preparations.

I like costume parties and wish there were more for Twelfth Night, Mardi Gras, and the plain old end of February when people have had enough of snow and ice.

No one is listening to me, though!

They just really like all the October events and refreshments and want to join in.



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    • alocsin profile image


      6 years ago from Orange County, CA

      I'm assuming that the popularity of such fall festivals stems from pre-industrial times, when it was the last hurrah for people before winter severely curtailed their activities. Voting this Up and Useful.

    • kashmir56 profile image

      Thomas Silvia 

      6 years ago from Massachusetts

      Yes Patty times have changed, i remember my mom would make my brother and me Halloween costumes from what ever you could find in around the house. But just like every other holiday it just now a way for these stores to make big money. Great hub !

      Vote up and more !!! SHARING !

    • Patty Inglish, MS profile imageAUTHOR

      Patty Inglish MS 

      6 years ago from USA. Member of Asgardia, the first space nation, since October 2016

      dahoglund - I wonder if it is Boomer thing as you say. We had a lot of cartoon and other Sat. morning shows with costumes in the 60s and 70s, and of course, a lot of advertising. My family didn't participate - they thought it was a waste of time and money to dress up and go out. lol

      vocalcoach - Halloween is so big, it's bigger than Mardi Gras here, but we're in the Midwest, so maybe that is the difference, I think the South does more Mardi Gras. Our newspapers are full of ads for costumed activities this week, all the way up to the end of the month. The thing I really like is the Halloween Train in Bridgeport Michigan, because the ride is funny and the staff play tricks on the guests.

      Golfgal - I agree that too much money layout is involved in most of these activities.

      AudreyHowitt - That's right, the public gets sucked right in.

      Lizam1 - This was fun to write; I kept thinking about Big Lots. I still like the exclamation point and the little girl at Christmas in the one TV ad -- "I'm not allowed to talk to strange punctuation..."

    • dahoglund profile image

      Don A. Hoglund 

      6 years ago from Wisconsin Rapids

      My wife and I in recent years have wondered why such a big deal about Halloween in recent years. When we were kids in the 1940's and 1950's we would go 'trick or treating" in the evening. Costumes consisted of whatever we could rummage up or throw together. Sometime in the 1970's we noticed adults dressing in costume that were much more elaborate than anything we had. My wife's theory is that it is a baby boomer thing..

    • Lizam1 profile image


      6 years ago from Scotland

      Great hub. Glad my question inspired your take. Too true that our festivities have been hijacked by the money men.

    • AudreyHowitt profile image

      Audrey Howitt 

      6 years ago from California

      It is amazing to me how holidays are so commercialized--and how on some level, we all buy in---great article!

    • Golfgal profile image


      6 years ago from McKinney, Texas

      I couldn't agree more. What is the reason to spend so much money on a scary hallow day

    • vocalcoach profile image

      Audrey Hunt 

      6 years ago from Idyllwild Ca.

      I was pleasantly surprised as I read through this hub Patty. I'm not a big fan of Halloween. When I read the title of your hub I asked myself "Yes, why is Halloween so popular?" Wanting an answer I thought I'd take a look. Wow! My curiosity was satisfied and then some.

      Big Lots seems to be the leader of the pack with the early exposure for Halloween costumes, decorations and such. As you have pointed out, the popularity of Halloween is looking like it takes a close second to Christmas for retail. Thanks Patty for a very interesting hub with plenty of useful information (pilgrams didn't come to America or celebrate the first Thanksgiving.) Voted up and away and will share.


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