The Holiday War Hits UK

Most of us online will be familiar with the October 31st/November 1st conundrum. One moment everyone is doing their best Jack Skellington impression and dressing up in their coolest totally-un-scary outfits and as soon as the clock strikes 00:00 the Christmas carols fill the air and everything is on sale.

Up until the 2010’s the trend has been pretty low-key, and suddenly I’m walking into a Wilko in August where there is a whole section of Halloween decorations and Christmas decorations side-by-side. From August until December the 23rd, for a quarter of the year, retailers are rubbing their hands together and vying for our hard earned money.

And that’s without mentioning the catastrophe that is Black Friday.

Am I being too cynical? A little – but arguably this wasn’t a trend we needed, resources we had to consume and money we had to put aside, until very recently and it’s a trend that we can blame on the influence of American media.

All Hallows Eve and Christmas have been twisted into a party culture and one that we are racing in order to reach the American standard, although we have a fair way to go. In America, Halloween consumer spending is estimated to be $6.9 billion (CNN) alone and that’s without mentioning the Christmas costs (which are almost triple, what with the house-deco passive aggressive wars that have begun to appear in the UK as well), whereas here in the UK retailers predict a £330 million (The Independent) for Halloween and Christmas is anyone’s guess at this point.

The UK isn’t the only affected as the Holiday bug has bitten countries far and in-between; countries that had no Celtic or Christian roots, like Turkey, and those as far away as Japan and Australia. While Japan take to American pop culture like bees to honey – Amerikamuka in Osaka host a Halloween Festival, and the holiday has become popular with Japanese youth as a costume party – Australia is the complete opposite. Their disapproval regards the holiday as an unwanted American influence and having little relevance to Australia. Christmas down under is also a weird case in that the climate doesn’t exactly allow for a white Christmas, but that never stopped Aussies from partying.

I guess my frustration stems from the fact that this amount of spending has become normalised, that we expect Halloween and Christmas movies, red and green jumpers and last-minute-witch-hats.

But as shocking as the lifestyle and cost is, we have created charming traditions – and I do like creative costumes and mulled wine in Winter Wonderland. We look forward to these few days of the year to celebrate with friends and family and as needless as they are, they are worth it.

And yes. Black Friday is still stupid.