To many people, Halloween strictly means candy, tricks, costumes, and monsters. However, Halloween actually has a history rooted in religious conquests and power struggles; a characteristic that most people are unaware of. This national holiday dates back to Celtic pagan festivals that celebrated the end of the harvest season. They believed that on this day the spirits would come back to earth and roam free; causing mischief and looking for living souls to possess. The people would dress up in frightening costumes, make blood sacrifices and leave food outside of their front doors in an attempt to ward off the evil spirits and appease their appetites. Halloween only fundamentally changed when the Romans took the Celtic lands and forced Christianity among its people. The Romans adopted the Celtic celebrations, infusing their religious beliefs into the concepts, and named it “All Saints Day” in order to honor the saints that did not have a day of their own. By the 1500s, “All Saint’s Day” had become “All Hallows’ Day”, and the Celtic festival had begun to be known as All Hallows’ Evening, Hallow Evening, and eventually… Halloween.
This holiday fell somewhat dormant until 1921 when the first citywide celebration of Halloween began in Anoka, Minnesota; followed by New York and L.A. Only about 5% of the American population celebrated this holiday until now, as it has become one of the most celebrated holidays in the US. With this mainstream evolution in mind, many businesses are in debt to the creators of such a day. From candy to costumes, this day turns out to be one of the most profitable of the year, making the importance of marketing efforts vitally important. The goal of the holiday is no longer to ward off evil spirits; but rather to have the best costume and best collection of candy. For one day every year, people feel it necessary to build a costume based on their perception of a person, product, or trend; driving attention to some of the biggest “hits” of the year. Since everyone is now participating in the tradition, the role of marketers is to offer these costumes and candies to every main audience of Halloween: children, parents, teenagers, and young adults, in hope that their variety will be selected as the “hot item” this year.
Jared Sales, Sally Shupe, Oliver Evans