From Hallowed To Shallow? The Evolution of Halloween As A Consumer Ritual


The Narcissistic Anthropologist

halloween

It’s scary how our consumer culture latches on to a spooky cultural tradition and manages to find ways to make it economically viable. That being said, I am excited about all the leftover mini-snickers bars I am going to have this year.

I thought it appropriate to try and find some sort of anthropological explanation of the origin of this frightful holiday. And i’ll be darned If I didn’t find an entire dissertation; well, a very thorough and interesting article from 1998 that was published in the Washington Post AND co-authored by one of my favorite practicing consumer anthropologists – Patricia Sunderland.

The link to the article is here: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/national/horizon/oct98/hallo101498.htm but the full text is below for your convenience. This is a treat, not a trick. Go grab a pumpkin’ spice latte and hunker down-this is a good one:

Halloween, perhaps our weirdest annual celebration, is even stranger than it…

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Samhain: An Introduction to its Mythology and Folklore


Heathen Harvest

Yesterday I was in the supermarket shopping for ingredients to make spiced apples. It’s a large hangar in South East London which could happily accommodate several small aircraft – arguably more useful than the hordes of shoppers unthinkingly purchasing useless goods for the weekend. Being late October there’s a respectable Hallowe’en section [the fresh pumpkins get thrown away on 1st November] comprising all kinds of artifacts from ghost to cat trinkets and plastic scythes. As I made my way to the tills to purchase my ingredients I caught sight of an abhorrently corpulent mother buying armfuls of Hallowe’en materials, deadened face, deadened appearance, going through the motions of purchase at the shop’s behest. One of the things she was buying was a witch’s broom – probably for her daughter.

It occurred to me in that moment that there was a strong likelihood she had no idea why the broom was…

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