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Halloween Spending Reaches New Frightening Hieghts

Update Date: Oct 09, 2012 08:04 AM EDT

Halloween seaosn, the first of the trio of big holidays, has already commenced and will show a record of 170 million Americans spending more than $8 billion to participate in and purchase a plethora of Halloween themed goods, activities and adventures, according to a National Retail Federation survey. 

 Wake Forest University English professor Eric Wilson, author of Everyone Loves a Good Train Wreck explains that despite hard times and tight wallets, our natural fascination with the strange and derelict coupled with our need to escape financial hardships makes spending quite easy during this dark holiday.

"What is Halloween but a night we can pretend to be someone else, setting aside our worries or regrets," Wilson says. "But when we remove the mask the next day, reality shuffles back into our lives like a relentless zombie. That's true terror," says Forest.

"There is a true joy to Halloween, the ecstasy of transforming into another creature," Wilson says. "But in a time of financial crisis, when many are forced to face their limitations and mortality in unpleasant ways, it makes sense that Americans would be enchanted by dressing up as dead things, zombies and vampires and such."

He continues to explain that Halloween allows us to escape from a working world that otherwise forces us to wear masks of political correctness and compliance that we may not feel. You can adopt the dress of non-fiction monsters such as a Ku Klux Klan member or a uniformed Nazi officer or the fictional stuff of nightmares, horror and cult classic traditions, and the controversial outfits are not only acceptable but expected.

The point, explains Wilson, is that we are able to hide from the masks of reality behind those of an alternate; We can imagine the satisfaction of living without accountability, casting off humanity and turning into machines without morals.

"To get along in the world we constantly pretend to be nicer or happier than we really are, especially during a difficult economy when to get and keep jobs we are expected to put a good face on things. On Halloween, it's okay to come out as a mask-wearer and feel relief we no longer have to hide."

He suggests Halloween dress-up is a reflection of life's hardest facts -- we have to be phony to survive -- and one of life's delights -- we are clever enough to survive."

Halloween in particular is a holiday which has increased spending per capita for families since its traditional acts are now potentially dangerous. Trick O' treating is now beset with gangs, roving bands of candy stealing teenagers or other malcontents  sucking all the fun out of what should be an innocent venture for kids and stress free one for the parents.

Consequently parents spend more to make the hoiiday a more home or community based experience.  

The undead, dead and immortal fascinate thrill and scare, and, Wilson posits, we can never get enough.

Embrace the tradition of fear, and celebrate but with every caution, for it may be your last chance. 

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