Halloween Back from the Dead

“I think everyone’s ready for entertainment and ready to go out, and Halloween is perfect for that,” said the owner of one of Louisiana’s most popular haunted-house attractions. 

And so it has begun—the end-of-the-year holiday season, kicking off with the one night that has become “the second largest commercial holiday in the United States.

Halloween garners “over seven billion dollars[,] … spent yearly on candy, costumes and activities in the United States alone.” But this year, after the COVID-19 pandemic decimated the industry in 2020, Halloween “consumer spending … is expected to reach an all-time high of $10.14 billion,” according to the National Retail Federation.

The fact of the matter is that whatever the consequences of the pandemic, people found the resulting backlash to the economy worse. “It was scary, it was horrifying,” confirms another haunted-house entrepreneur operating out of California. And now, it seems, the American public is making up for it.

Consequently, “average consumers plan to spend $102.74 on costumes, candy, decorations and greeting cards—$10 more than they planned to spend last year.” People are slated to spend a whopping $3.17 billion on decorations, another $3 billion on candy, and $0.66 billion on greeting cards. Individually, those numbers are the highest they’ve been since at least 2017.

This fright-night surge, “up from $8.05 billion in 2020,” is no doubt due in part to the “high lumber prices, product shortages and rising costs of goods” currently plaguing every other industry. And there’s also the chronic issue of the dissatisfied customer, who always wants more. As one corporate haunted-house executive admits, “Scaring people is not easy or cheap.” In increasing demand are “upscale props, such as animatronic demons, movie-like monster makeup and projectors that can display high-resolution zombies.”

As such, “retailers have implemented a number of measures, such as bringing in Halloween products earlier than normal, to ensure their shelves are stocked with seasonal candy, décor and other items ahead of this important holiday.”


For the Whole Family

But at the bottom of it all, this Halloween season just seems to be people’s response to the dynamic reality we’ve faced for nearly two years—a life of lockdowns, vaccines, variants, protests, violence, and tragedy, to name a few. Amusement and recreation have become so ingrained into the fabric of our life that, in many ways, any “new normals” seem simply to form around these monstrous industries. And look at what has emerged out of this mentality for All Hallows’ Eve: “Research shows that people enjoy being scared while in a safe environment, … and they are willing to pay for the experience.” It means there’ll be a whole lot more vampires with masks on this year—though that pretty much defeats the point of the costume.

Here’s another interesting detail: “Households with children are estimated to spend more than twice the amount than households without children ($149.69 compared with $73.57) on Halloween items.” In fact, an executive at Prosper Insights & Analytics, the company that helps to produce the data annually for NRF, noted, “This year in particular, we see an emphasis on Halloween spending from families.”

Is it revolutionary or troubling that a holiday typically inspiring “ferocious frights designed to inspire nightmares and years of therapy,” as one California haunted house so graphically advertised, has become a family favorite? 

Of course, it might not come as that much of a surprise given that entertainment has long been promoted and tailored to families—that yearly vacation to Disneyland, a weekend outing to the movie theater. Perhaps that’s why this Halloween, “more than 1.8 million children plan to dress as Spiderman, more than 1.6 million as their favorite princess, more than 1.2 million as Batman and more than 1.2 million will dress as one of their other favorite superheroes,” no doubt the result of the latest slew of Marvel films.


Vanity Fair

In John Bunyan’s quintessential allegory, Pilgrim’s Progress, the main character Christian and his stalwart companion Faithful journey to a town called Vanity, in which there is a never-ending fair called Vanity Fair. They find at Vanity Fair all the idle amusements of the world on display in all their bedazzling allure, readily available for purchase. 

But Christian and Faithful have a very distinct response. “Turn away mine eyes from beholding vanity,” they cry, covering their ears and looking heavenward. Psalm 119:37 petitions, “Turn away my eyes from looking at worthless things, and revive me in Your way.” When plied by a merchant, the two worthies only reply, “We buy the truth.” Instructs Proverbs 23:23, “Buy the truth, and do not sell it.”

What’s really scary is what hasn’t changed in the world since COVID-19—the natural disasters, the political unrest, the division, the brutality, the lawlessness, more and more. Did the world have a better perspective when it was startled into a wake-up call? Is the comfort of today’s amusements merely another of Vanity Fair’s distractions?

The four angels will soon let go “the four winds of the earth” (Revelation 7:1); “the image of the beast” (13:15) will soon have life breathed into it. Indeed, “we have the prophetic word confirmed, which you do well to heed” (2 Peter 1:19). Time is short, and we must keep pressing onward. To encourage you to keep your eye on the prize and to leave the distractions of this earth behind, we recommend two resources, Creeping Compromise and “Compromise, Conformity & Courage.”

As one Christian author wrote, “Heaven is cheap enough.” Buy not the goods of this world “where moth and rust destroy” (Matthew 6:19). Purchase instead “without money and without price” (Isaiah 55:1) the free gift of eternal life. 

Kris W. Sky
Kris W. Sky is a writer and editor for Amazing Facts International and other online and print publications.
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