Consumerism Turns Festive


If you’ve stopped by Goodwill or CVS lately, you’ll see the plastic pumpkins and fake spiders and paper tombstones. Close by, there’s a rainbow of temporary hair dye, featuring extra black and orange. I’ve even seen a joint costume of Miley Cyrus and Robin Thicke.

Halloween is coming!

And so are the products.

But I don’t mind the commercialisation of holidays like Halloween or Thanksgiving. I don’t think it makes the holidays superficial or wasteful. Buying decorations and treats for special days is fun and harmless. It’s a way to celebrate and enjoy yourself. Both kids and adults enjoy a day of eating and watching made-for-TV movies. I recommend Hocus Pocus or Halloweentown as classics.

Monique Medina ‘15 agrees with me; “It’s okay as long it makes them happy.” She widens her eyes and laughs; “It’s okay as long as it makes them happy and it’s legal!”

I think Halloween has evolved so much from its original Pagan and western European roots that it’s hard to call it a “spiritual” holiday. Nobody’s beliefs are being trivialized with the excessive candy eating and the bad ghost/zombie impressions. It’s a good-natured tradition that brings a lot of people closer together. I have some of the best memories of my mom’s cookies with black cats on them. She buys those ready-to-bake, but they’re great, so what’s the difference to me?

My opinion would be different if the holidays I’m talking about had cultural or religious content, or if the meaning of the day was being blatantly ignored. But I don’t think that’s the case. Halloween originated as a series of festivals of the dead celebrated throughout Western Europe, and even then it was adapted from Paganism. That’s not really applicable or even relevant to American suburbia; it’s evolved from that into something entirely new and unrelated. It doesn’t mock anything. It’s simply a day to celebrate.

It’s similar with Thanksgiving. It originated as a day where Pilgrims and Native Americans shared a feast to celebrate the cooperation and gratitude they shared. But nowadays, that doesn’t seem very relevant. Especially since colonialists would eventually slaughter millions of Natives. One feast does not change a genocide, so I actually think it’s good we don’t celebrate Thanksgiving in that way. If we did, it would be blatantly ignoring a horrible aspect of American history.  Instead, Thanksgiving is now a day to eat and give thanks for what we have been given in life; things like family, health, friendships and happiness. I certainly don’t think eating turkey and mashed potatoes changes it all that much. Though, there’s definitely profits made by Black Friday and other capitalist effects, I don’t think it matters if you bought a TV on sale or broke out the turkey decorations, as long as you enjoyed yourself and surrounded yourself with good people.

I guess what I’m trying to say is that it’s not black and white. You can have your cake, eat it too, and still remember to cherish what matters.

And if it makes you happy, by all means, wear the Miley Cyrus costume.