It’s that time of the year. By the time the back to school flyers were being discarded, Hallowe’en displays were being put up. Walk into any department store and you will be confronted by towering displays of Hallowe’en treats and racks of costumes in every size and theme. Store owners are not crazy to begin pushing Hallowe’en products as soon as kids go back to school. The average homeowner starts to plan and purchase for Hallowe’en celebrations almost fifty days before October 31st. Many have had their houses decked out in Hallowe’en trappings since well before October first.
The originators of All Hallows Eve would be bemused and a little unsettled by all this hoopla over Hallowe’en. Originally, All Hallows Eve was an annual holiday on the thirty-first of October, the eve of All Saints Day, a traditional day of mass to honor the saints. Scholars believe it was influenced by harvest festivals and festivals of the dead and has pagan roots. The word Hallowe’en was first used in the sixteenth century and is a Scottish variation of All Hallows Evening. Hallowe’en was not observed until 1556.
In recent years, Hallowe’en has been seen as a way to provide a welcome break from the depressing economic situation. It is a one-day reprieve from worries, cares, and stress and an opportunity to party with family, friends, or the neighbors.
Retail stores and websites dedicated to all things Hallowe’en rejoice in this day no matter what its origin! According to the industry research firm, IBISWorld, sales of Halloween-related merchandise—treats, costumes, decorations—is expected exceed $8 billion dollars this year. The number of people who choose to spookify their homes continues to grow. It is estimated that homeowners will spent over a hundred dollars each to decorate.
While department stores and speciality Hallowe’en stores set up in store front locations just for the month do a big business, the real recipients of the Hallowe’en cash cow are dollar and discount stores. This is acknowledged big business for discount stores like Value Village. The president of Value Village stated that almost 40% of their revenue comes from Hallowe’en stock.
A survey of shoppers indicated that Hallowe’en buyers plan to spend 15% more on Hallowe’en shopping than they did last year. This translates to $55 instead of $48 per person. The survey also indicated that a family of four would spend $330 on average for costumes, decorations, and Hallowe’en entertaining. This Hallowe’en celebration tends to be more female-driven. Women choose costumes which make them look attractive while men select costumes for their fright value. Kids want whatever is the trendiest TV or movie costume. This year shows like Snow White and the Huntsman, The Avengers and The Walking Dead are inspiring costumes. Superheroes, Zombies, and princess will own the streets come dark on October 31st.
92% of children and almost 80% of parents are expected to dress up for Hallowe’en. A little more than half of the parents will purchase pre-packaged costumes from department, specialty and dollar stores.
When I taught kindergaren, Hallowe’en was a huge event for five-year-olds. It was bigger than Christmas or their birthday. Why? Costumes, parties, games but most of all: trick or treating! If kids are going trick or treating here are some safety tips for parents to keep in mind.
If the costume has a sharp pointed object like a sword or a dagger or a knife substitute rubber or flexible plastic ones available from dollar stores.
Make sure kids trick or treat in groups—never alone.
Put reflective tape on costumes and trick or treat bags and shoes so kids are easier to see.
Make sure kids do not eat any treats until they have been brought home for close examination for potential tampering and for allergens.
Limit kids’ intake of treats.
If kids are wearing makeup (as opposed to a mask that could obstruct vision) be sure to test it for allergic reactions before the big night.
Wash makeup and other foreign substances off kids’ faces and bodies before bedtime.
Work out a route in their neighborhood with kids so they are crossing streets safely, using sidewalks and crosswalks not sides of streets and roads.
Be a guide on the side. Let kids trick or treat but shadow them.
Caution kids against running out from between parked cars, or across lawns and yards where ornaments, furniture, or clotheslines can be dangerous.
Don’t invite kids into your home and don’t allow your kids to enter a home while they are trick or treating.
Be sure kids’ costumes fit so they do not trip and are fire retardant.
Don’t let kids carry candles or lanterns and caution them to stay far away from lit jack o’ lanterns. Provide them with glow sticks or flashlights!
As a host, provide healthier treats like juice boxes or pudding cups or bottled water.
Consider hosting a Hallowe’en party instead of having your kids go trick or treating.
Hallowe’en is an exciting and enjoyable time for kids of all ages. But safety is important in order to ensure the fun doesn’t end badly.