Monday, October 26, 2020

The War on Halloween

For the past two decades there have been those in American society claiming that there is a war on Christmas. They point to the use of such time-honoured phrases as "Happy Holidays" and "Season's Greetings"(both of which date back to the 19th Century) in the retail industry, among other things, as "proof" of this alleged war. While I do not believe there is a war on Christmas, I sometimes feel as if there is a war on Halloween. Oh, I don't believe that there is some conspiracy seeking to end Halloween. What I do believe is that Halloween, like Thanksgiving before it, might be falling victim to Christmas creep, the phenomenon whereby retailers rollout Christmas merchandise earlier and earlier in the year.

Indeed, it seems as if the past several years the majority of stores have been rolling out their Christmas wares anywhere from mid to late October. Now this would not be so bad, but some stores actually remove Halloween merchandise from the shelves to make room for the Yuletide goods. A case in point is our local Dollar General, which would remove some of the Halloween merchandise from the shelves in late October to make room for Christmas merchandise. This year come late September they actually devoted only one aisle to Halloween goods, instead of the usual two aisles. It should come as no surprise that the other aisle was devoted to--you guessed it--Christmas merchandise.

Now this seems wrong headed to me, as I think Halloween merchandise is still very much in demand in late October. Many children don't settle on their costume until late in the month, so that it is a good idea for retailers to keep costumes on the shelves until Halloween itself. Many people decorate for Halloween (I know I do) and it is sometimes the case that they have to replace Halloween decorations late in the month. This is particularly true here, where Missouri weather can wreak havoc on outdoor decorations. The past few days the Halloween aisle at our local Dollar General has been busy, as it has been the entire month. While people are looking to buy Halloween merchandise for the whole month of October, including those last few days, it seems to me that they aren't buying Christmas merchandise. At least at our Dollar General, the Christmas aisle has been dead all month. No one goes down the aisle and the Christmas merchandise just sits there on the shelves.

Another sign of Christmas creep having moved into October are commercials with Christmas themes airing before Halloween has even arrived. While I have yet to see any Christmas commercials this year, in past years I have noticed them airing in the last few days of October and sometimes even a full two weeks before Halloween. In 2012 there was even an animated Target commercial with a Christmas theme featuring a giant sized version of their dog mascot Bullseye. The commercial first aired on October 11. Target received such backlash from consumers that they pledged to never air a Christmas themed commercial that early again. From this I take it that I am not the only one who does not want to see anything Christmas oriented when it is still Halloween season.

Of course, this brings to me one of the worst offenders when it comes to Christmas creep: the Hallmark Channel and its related channels. The past few years the Hallmark Channel and its related channels have started showing their Christmas movies an entire week before it is Halloween. Last night I wanted to watch Murder, She Wrote on Hallmark Mysteries and Movies as I usually do on Sunday night, only to find a Hallmark made-for-TV Christmas movie on instead. Now I know that there are those who enjoy Hallmark's Christmas movies and who will watch them regardless of what time of year it is. I even know some who like it that the Hallmark Channel and its related channels start showing Christmas movies in October. That having been said, I know many more (like myself) who wish the Hallmark Channel would at least hold off until November 1. I have one friend who absolutely despises Hallmark's Christmas movies and griped every year when she could no longer watch The Golden Girls because "those movies" were on instead. Now I am not going to say that the Hallmark Channel should start showing Halloween movies or horror movies in October. Enough channels do that. That having been said, they could at least hold off on the Christmas movies until November 1 (which is still a bit early in my mind) and continue to air their typical programming. It would certainly please those of us who prefer their usual programming to their made-for-TV Christmas movies in October.

Here I have to say that I hope no one reading this has the impression that I hate Christmas. Christmas is actually my favourite holiday, even more so than Halloween (which I dearly love). Come December 1 I will put up our Christmas tree and decorate outside our house. I will also start playing Christmas songs non-stop. That having been said, I am also someone who fully believes in Ecclesiastes  Chapter 3, Verse 1, "To every thing there is a season,/A time for every purpose under the heaven." In October it is time for Halloween. In November it is time for Thanksgiving. In December it is time for Christmas.

While Thanksgiving has been showing signs of coming back, for many years in the late 20th Century and early 21st Century it seemed as if it was being treated as an extension of Christmas and not its own holiday. I don't think there is any danger of that happening to Halloween. That having been said, I think retailers are putting a crimp in the holiday for many by replacing Halloween merchandise with Christmas merchandise when there is still a demand for Halloween merchandise. While commercials with Christmas themes and the Hallmark Channel showing made-for-TV Christmas movies in October might seem harmless enough, they are yet more symptoms of Christmas creep in October. Fortunately, Target's experience with their 2012 Christmas commercial in October points the way to a solution to Christmas creep in October. Consumers should complain to retailers when they put Christmas merchandise out in October and complain even louder when they replace Halloween merchandise with Christmas merchandise. The Christmas merchandise doesn't seem to be selling anyway, so if customers complain maybe retailers will decide it is best to wait on the Christmas goods until November 1. At any rate, it seems to me that it is time for retailers to celebrate Halloween in October and Christmas in December.


Caftan Woman said...

I love the trappings of Christmas as much as the next guy, maybe even more. And I tend to start my music traditions toward the end of November just because I can. However, in October my heart and soul is all in for Hallowe'en; decorations, candy, and creepy old movies. I want to enjoy the fall as it was meant to be enjoyed, with Boris Karloff and cute little kids knocking at the door without a clue as to what is going on.

I sometimes choose one among the new crop of Hallmark Christmas movies to watch, but years have passed where I haven't even made that much of an effort. Now, a Hallmark Christmas Murder Mystery - that would get my attention.

Terence Towles Canote said...

I would like a Hallmark Christmas Murder Mystery! While I am not a big fan of a lot of the Hallmark Christmas movies, I do like the Hallmark Mysteries and Movies mystery movies!