Working long hours at a large US clothing warehouse I get to see the costumes and props that people are buying for Halloween. There are still a few old favorite costumes around- like gorilla, and 2-person horse suits. But they aren’t going out in high numbers. You would think mostly kids clothing would be selling, but I’ve seen about 2/3 of costumes, etc. are for adults.
I can’t un-see some of these costumes and props, but at least I get to describe them to you. “Morph suits” seem popular. (These are all over one-color suits covering the head and body.) Strangely, there are lots of strange sexy monster costumes- like a sexy Freddy Kruger. I’ve seen more corsets or “training” undergarments in more colors than at any Ren Faire. It’s got the workers here wondering if women’s costumes can only be sexy now. (Getting ready for the Halloween walk of shame… ) One costume called a woman in a navy outfit ‘shore thing’.
There are the everyday undergarments to compress your arms, legs, or chest. Underpants for women that separate and lift the buttocks, and for men that are padded in the crotch. Corporate-owned character costumes predominate. (In this galaxy right here. Or like the sexy female ghostbuster- “I ain’t fraid of no original costumes”.) People are spending a lot of money on readily disposed of costumes and accessories. (Like bondage toys- yes they arrived in the clothing bins with the other Halloween gear this week.) Cartoon movie character underwear, pajamas, t-shirts, and wallets all come in adult sizes. All sizes. Sizes you wouldn’t believe exist, or should exist (like sexy shorts for 8 year old girls).
In the past we all made or borrowed our own costumes. My family went to thrift stores and found everything from fox stoles, to helmets, to postal carrier uniforms. We went out trick or treating to ask for money for UNICEF before going out for candy. We carved jack-0-lanterns, had parties, and bobbed for apples. We decorated entire parks as haunted walks. All with minimal money expended. I hope there are still people that do these sorts of activities. But I am sensing that Halloween has finally been sculpted into something else.
I enjoyed the secular celebration of Halloween as well as Samhain growing up. Now I see the same forces that took and marketed a secular version of Christmas selling their vision of Halloween to us. Halloween has now joined the market and is just another grand orgy of consumption – of food, clothing, toys, decorations rather than of too much candy and a night to run around free as kids.
So as you have your Samhain celebrations, realize that you may be keeping and preserving related Halloween traditions that are now absent from our general culture. Don’t give in to the advertisements that tell you to eat more, decorate more, be more slutty, and spend more. Have fun, but don’t fall into the trap of Halloween being more of a bacchanal than Beltane. You can have a good time and not pave the pockets of the same interests that bring us Christmas decorations in September (or August, or July). Don’t encourage the ‘Ho, ho, ho and merry spending’ chorus!