The Impact of Hollywood on Halloween

Scream - example of the impact of Hollywood on Halloween

Little yellow Minions won’t be hard to find this year as adults, children and even pets will be dressed as this actual blockbuster character. How does Hollywood so strongly impact the Halloween business?

You can’t really act as if Halloween does not exist in the US. Denying Halloween is about as feasible as denying Hollywood. As a business, Halloween is kind of crazy in the States. In 2015, Americans plan to spend $6.9 billion on Halloween, or an average of $75 for candies, decoration, and costumes. And if you think Halloween is fun, check out my recent post: “What would America be like without Pumpkin Spice”.

Halloween costumes

While checking my children’s costumes a few days ago, I had a discussion with my 4-year old daughter. Last year, Pauline looked gorgeous in her princess costume. At Christmas, she got a Frozen costume from Elsa that she wore quite often. But this year, she has decided to go as a witch because she wants to look scary!

This brings up an interesting difference between Halloween in Germany and Halloween in the States. Germans usually want to dress in scary costumes, while Americans often adopt popular figures instead. During the German carnival in February, however, costumes more frequently resemble American Halloween costumes such as superheroes or princesses.

Halloween in Germany

Many Germans have adopted Halloween. The celebration has gained in popularity in the last 10 to 15 years and German children celebrate Halloween like Americans. There are Halloween parties in day cares, schools and sometimes at home. They go for “Süß oder Saures” (trick or treat in German), collect candies and come home shivering but in a happy sugar shock.

Thanks to Fasching (the German carnival), some parts of Germany maintain a strong costume tradition. Additionally, the presence of American soldiers after WWII helped raise popularity for this tradition.

The Impact of Hollywood on Halloween

“Hollywood has a tremendous impact on how adults and their children decide to dress the part each Halloween.”

This quote from Matthew Shay, President and CEO of the National Retail Federation, is certainly right. There are obvious examples of Hollywood’s impact on Halloween:

– Middle schoolers everywhere dressed up as Scream‘s serial killer in 1996, the year of its movie premiere. Until today, the mask is a popular Halloween accessory

Harry Potter‘s popularity didn’t stop with the last sequel in 2011. Buzzfeed suggested in 2014 29 Alternative Harry Potter Halloween Costume Ideas.

Star Wars costumes are an evergreen since the release of Episode 1 to 3. Last year, my son dressed up as Darth Vader. In 2015, more than 1.8 million children plan to wear a “Star Wars” costume.

– The Pirates of the Caribbean franchise helped to popularize pirate costumes as a kid favorite in 2003 and 2006.

– The Twilight saga has pushed vampire costumes higher on the Halloween costume ranking. My eldest dressed up as a vampire 5 years in a row between 2008 and 2012. Remember, at this time, we lived in Germany, where scary costumes are favored.

– The series of Spiderman and Batman has the same effect. In 2012, the release year of Dark Knight Rises and Amazing Spiderman, both superheroes were kids favorites. Joker masks were also very popular

Minions: Nearly 1 million trick-or-treaters plan to select a little yellow Minion costume as they take to the streets this year.

Halloween in France

Typically, French people don’t celebrate Halloween, largely because of All Saints Day, a national and Catholic holiday on November 1st. When I was a child, we faithfully visited the cemetery each year on All-Saints-Day. My mother would freshen up the tomb displays with “Chrysanthèmes”, which is French for mums.

I really really really dislike mums, in France they are a symbol of death. I associate mums with sad events on chilly days. But for Americans and Germans, mums are just flowers that are sold in supermarkets during the fall. Imagine my petrified face, when some German friends came for dinner with a bouquet of mums as a hostess gift! So, Americans, don’t forget! Never bring mums to French people, at least so long they are alive and not in a cemetery!

And what about you? What are your plans for Halloween this year?

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  • Interesting article! In Switzerland you should never bring carnation (or pink clove) to anyone. It has the same meaning as the mums in France…

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