By: Matthew Worsham – Opinions Editor
Happy Halloween! Or is it Thanksgiving? If you woke up in a grocery store today, you may not know the difference. Thanksgiving and even Christmas decorations are already moving onto shelves that have been occupied by spooky goodies for weeks.
In response to the extended duration of holiday-themed marketing, society has come to look at the calendar in terms of “holiday seasons,” which, to me, seems to undermine the purposes for the holidays themselves.
For example, Walt Disney World Resort’s Magic Kingdom park has hosted “Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party” on select evenings since Sept. 10, and will continue to do so not only tonight but tomorrow as well, according to its webpage. Kings Island advertises similar programs on its website, though they started Sept. 20 and ended last weekend.
Christmas marketing follows the same trend. The general rule used to be that the “Christmas season” began after Thanksgiving and ended with the new year. Now, however, Christmas-themed merchandise is offered for sale earlier and earlier, as advertised by a Meijer commercial in which a couple is surprised by carolers that appear at their door on Halloween, with the tagline “Christmas is closer than you think.”
These trends suggest that such seasonal marketing is effective. I just don’t understand why.
Why would anyone choose to live in fevered anticipation of a single event, especially such a relatively minor holiday as Halloween? If you view an entire month or more as the buildup to a single day, and that day fails to meet your expectations, have you wasted your time?
Holidays are supposed to stand out; there may be some religious, cultural, political or other reason why we mark them as times of celebration, but for whatever reason they stand out as dates of importance. If we live every day of October as if it’s Halloween, then what makes Halloween so special? In order for such a day to mean anything, we have to be able to view it in comparison to our garden-variety days of the week, which is impossible when we’re surrounded by themed marketing 24/7.
There’s nothing strange about planning for a big event or being excited about upcoming holidays. However, the holiday-themed marketing that we see today goes beyond this. It forces us to look at purchases and activities through the context of a countdown to a single day.
That’s where the big problem is: the countdown. Counting down to big events drives me crazy. It reduces every day of your life to a stepping stone that leads you closer to the anticipated day, but no matter how much time you spend obsessed with that day, it still passes within 24 hours.
Whenever I’ve done this, in hindsight it seemed like the days of the countdown flew by. Who do you know that has ever wished that time passed more quickly?
I guess my real question is, what’s wrong with Tuesdays? What’s wrong with Thursdays? Why do we have to theme every day of our lives to “prepare” for the next two or three holidays?
I’m not advocating for some kind of “live in the moment” philosophy, but maybe “appreciate the moment” would be a good way to put to it. I think we should accept non-holidays for what they are: another day to be alive, which is special enough.
So please, look forward to Christmas as much as you want, but remember that it’s still 54 days away – no closer to Halloween than it’s ever been. There’s a whole lot of plain old living in between, and that’s enough of a holiday for me.