Originally created 10/31/06

Marketing departments ruin meaning of holidays



Double, double, toil and ... money?

It certainly seems that's what Halloween is about these days. According to USA Today, the amount of money spent on Halloween this year is predicted to be almost $2 billion more than in the past five years.

It all started in the early 1900s and has progressed from there. In 1905, the first Halloween-theme postcards were made. In 1950, the first mass-produced Halloween costumes were sold (that's also when UNICEF came along). Now we're spending $50 on costumes.

At least, that's what most of them cost.

Whatever happened to making your own costumes? I challenged myself to make my costume and then compare it to prices of mass-produced costumes. I bought a black dress, a wig and fake fingernails for $13. When compared to a costume of almost the same design from Party City, I had saved $17. Sure, it took me more time, but I still had money left.

Decorations are definitely a part of the Halloween fun, but it costs almost $1 or more for a small bag of "spider web" and almost $90 for those big inflatable eyesores, which are getting more and more popular with each passing holiday. It's no wonder Halloween is one of the most commercialized holidays (after Christmas and Valentine's Day.)

The truth is, these holidays are losing value as holidays, but gaining a reputation as a financial trap. Halloween isn't about witches and jack-o'-lanterns. Valentine's Day isn't about love and red roses. It's about the amount of money being spent on cards and candy, costumes and decorations. We're losing sight of why we celebrate these things in the first place.

Now, thanks to manufacturers and shop after shop supporting them, on Feb. 14 we aren't thinking about one special someone, we're thinking about how we have to get a small something for all of our friends and family, and a big something for that one special someone. On Oct. 31, it's not about scaring away ghouls and poltergeists, it's about spending exorbitant amounts of money on stringed lights, tombstones, spider web, fake body parts and an expensive costume.

Of course, it is fun to dress up and decorate our yards and houses for these holidays, but it shows just how shallow and materialistic our nation really is.

Lauren Ellis, 15, is a home-schooled sophomore.