Walt Amses: Vacation-industry complex threatens to overwhelm schedule


This commentary is from Walt Amses, a writer from the north of Calais.

Halloween has become the launching pad for the holidays. Once, not too long ago, we waited until Thanksgiving to get things going, and I guess baby boomers like me missed the memo extending everything commercial – defined by capitalism as everything – to encompass much of fall, sometimes even late summer.

In Montana a few years ago, at a Labor Day sale where my son was buying a grill, it was impossible to ignore the Christmas trees, lights and lawn ornaments already on display, while the outside temperature fluctuated in the mid-1990s.

We monetize everything from private prisons to suffocating college debt. War has always been one of our favorite money makers, with the invasion and occupation of Iraq and the just ended 20 year battle in Afghanistan defrauding taxpayers while making billions. billions for defense contractors.

In these periods of fallow between wars we have vacations, surprising not only for their fiscal weight, but how far they have drifted since their ancient inception as a whole other thing – originally tied more to the land. and spirituality than at a cash register.

We have been warned of supply chain issues with the same intensity that might accompany alerts of impending terrorist attack. The message, breathlessly delivered by all media platforms, transcends even politics: Buy now or your children could be excluded from the holiday joy that is their birthright. The websites have lots of ads disguised as news articles about medical breakthroughs, expert mortgage advice, and kitchen products that you just can’t live without.

We’ve grown into brands so easy, so eager to comply, that even though Black Friday comes with a body count, millions of people still shop with abandon.

Somewhere along the line we have been convinced that every day is ‘special’ and we spend accordingly. Whether it’s Easter, July 4th or Valentine’s Day, it’s like being a consumer is our duty, buying to order. Although I imagine most of my age cohort remembers shopping – before it usurped baseball as a national pastime – as a necessity rather than an obligation. But make no mistake, our numbers (over 76 million) made post-war companies drool over our unprecedented potential. We were a commercial gold mine. Not all of these coon skin beanies were designed to just keep our heads warm.

Like many of our other holidays, Halloween has grown from being a seasonal, pagan celebration, if you can call the end of the harvest and the increasing likelihood of death a celebration. But 2,000 years ago, in what is now the UK, the ancient Celts believed that somewhere in late October the line between the worlds of the living and the dead had blurred, the ghosts of the dead returning to earth. Called Samhain (pronounced sow-in), it was commemorated by the druids building huge bonfires clad in animal heads and skins, a costume party that in one form or another continues until day.

After the intervention of the Roman Empire and eventually Christianity, Halloween was on the right track towards the child-focused Sugar Festival, which sees us spending around $ 10 billion this year, of which over $ 490 million is dollars in costumes for our pets.

A 19th-century trend to turn the holidays into a more community-centric event saw Americans ditch witchcraft, ghosts, and pranks for block parties with games, food, and festive costumes.

And in another nod to the potential of baby boomers as consumers, today’s lore greatly took it up a notch in the 1950s, reviving a century-old version of trick-or- treat.

All Saints ‘Day and All Saints’ Day follow November 1 and 2 respectively, religious variants to honor the dead with more bonfires and disguise themselves as saints, angels, devils and martyrs. Particularly in Mexico, Central America and South America, “dia de los Muertos” – Day of the Dead – is a national holiday for people to pay homage to those who have died, perpetuating a Latin American tendency to merge the Catholic traditions and indigenous customs.

We experienced the festivities a few years ago in Quito, Ecuador, where the celebration lasted most of a four-day weekend with sweet pastries and fruity drinks; the opening of churches and crypts that families can visit, watch over and leave tokens or gifts such as flowers or food; as well as what looked like an ongoing street fair representing more than just a party.

This ancestral commemoration is the perfect opportunity to introduce the concept of death to children, to reduce fear while revealing that it is a natural phenomenon while extolling the gift of life.

Here at home, Halloween, once focused on kids and much simpler, has become a staple cog in our industrial holiday resort that threatens to overwhelm the calendar with a year-long celebration. Forbes magazine cites millennials, fondly remembered and still noticeable in the rearview mirror, for “hijacking” children’s Halloween, accusing their “prolonged adolescence” of turning the holidays into an economic engine just after Christmas.

Since two in three adults think Halloween is for them too, and that it would be inappropriate to scour the neighborhood for candy, they find alternatives to satisfy those candies, including at work, or dress codes. are relaxed; costumes abound; and bowls of candy appear on every desk. Speculation suggests that adults enjoy vacations because it is easy. Close to home, with no travel or family to contend with, but there could be a whole other reason. The same percentage of adults who believe Halloween is for them also believe in ghosts, with nearly 30% claiming to have seen one.

While it’s not known how many Vermonters believe in ghosts, ghouls, or goblins, we tend to shy away from religion on a large scale. Our replacements, according to Pew Research, are unaffiliated or “none”; atheist; agnostic; or “nothing in particular”, so we’re open to almost anything. It makes sense that we have so many haunted houses, covered bridges and churches, spooky legends – check out the “Devil’s Washbowl” and even the “Queen City Ghost Walk”.

If none of this interests you, you can always start your holiday shopping.


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