Posted by: cassymuronaka | October 14, 2009

Halloween, the new Christmas

Frankenstein and Bride

It’s old news that Halloween is nipping at the heels of Christmas as one of our most heavily commercialized holidays. Yeah well, okay, but since the modern Halloween makes no pretense of being a religious holiday — unless you belong to the local coven — who cares? I love it, you love it, and we all love that candy bowl full of leftover mini-Snickers.

It’s my conviction that the primary reason Halloween has become so fiscally exploited by Walmart, Target and your local drug store is because Baby Boomers are completely reluctant to give it up. We are just as big suckers for our own nostalgia as any other generation that preceded us.

Most of us neither are throwing nor are invited to the raucous costume parties we once attended with inebriated glee. We’re also way too old to trick or treat. However, what we can do is float yearly purchases of 6-foot skeletons that glow in the dark, long strands of orange pumpkin lights, and possibly even ornaments for the strange new phenomenon known as the Halloween Tree.

Green monster

Some of us really go to town, re-creating entire graveyards on our front lawns, drawing crowds from miles around, and putting Disneyland’s Haunted Mansion to shame. The people responsible for this annual eye candy are the same ones who used to dazzle you with icicle castles and exact replicas of Santa’s Workshop.

Personally, I can barely tackle the purchase and decoration of a Christmas tree on a yearly basis, much less build a Halloween Temple of Doom for my neighborhood. On the other hand, I am the first one to visit any wildly over-the-top celebratory display, armed at the ready with camera and tripod.

Waiting for perfect man

Earlier today I was lucky enough to blunder upon one of these in the richest and most elegant section of snooty old Pasadena. A rare rain had just lifted. I wish I could have stayed long enough to see the sun set and take in what probably was spectacularly spooky lighting, but the daytime view was impressive.

House on oak knoll 1

After I returned home, I was inspired to root around in my photo files for images I shot of an equally ambitious Halloween display some years ago. This was located in far more modest surroundings, ironically, in the city of Anaheim, the home to Disneyland.




  1. I agree with you. I find this sort of thing quite odd. I guess holidays give us all a little something to look forward to, especially when times are hard. It strikes me, though, that displays like these are most likely not happening in households that are having trouble putting food on the table. If I can’t afford to eat I’m most likely not going to be able to afford this sort of extravagance. In other news, I saw Christmas commercials for Sears on TV starting around October 7th or so.

  2. trick or treat!!!!!!!!!

  3. I LOVE decorating for Halloween. It’s like a calling card to neighborhood kids to come by your house for candy! ๐Ÿ™‚

  4. Halloween certainly does have religious undertones, but in reverse, if you know what I mean. It became important to Christians in times past, as a symbol of the fight against so-called evil. So-called because most of the traditional characters of halloween were not evil spirits or witches in reality but recognisible forms from pagan beliefs.

  5. halloween is a religous holiday!!!

  6. Good heavens! In old Blighty you’d be lucky to see more than one jack-o-lantern on a street!

    And much as I’m fascinated by the spectacle, I’m glad Walmart aren’t quite as big over here!


  7. How hilarious your story is. I live in Japan where capitalist Christmas reigns supreme, but Halloween is starting to run a close second…

  8. I love it! Halloween is the best!

  9. Great photos! Looks like you folks in CA have really outdone yourselves. At least I haven’t seen anything quite this extravagant in Central PA yet. Of course, that could have something to do with our weather – it is currently snowing – yes, on October 15th – pretty sad, huh? Enjoy the Snickers, I’ll be feasting on Reese’s Fast Breaks myself. ๐Ÿ™‚

  10. Halloween is becoming more increasingly popular. However, Christmas is Jesus’s Birthday and so Halloween can never become the new Christmas. I hope our society continues to realize that over time.

  11. I enjoy Halloween mostly because of the memories it evokes – trick-or-treating as a child, getting into trouble for pulling pranks, and later in life, attending some pretty wild costume parties. As far as the religious aspects go, I think they’re generally given way too much thought by those who can’t simply lighten up and have fun!

  12. fun post, but where is the love for my favorite holiday, Super Bowl Sunday!!

    • Equally commercialized, but definitely a more religious holiday for the men of this country.

  13. Halloween is my favorite! There’s no pressure surrounding gifts, you get to dress up however the hell you want, there’s tons of crazy festivities, and free candy! Bonus if you live in a seasonal area where you get to enjoy the beautiful changing of the leaves and delectable autumn apples!

  14. Hi Cassy. Personally, I’ll have to decide if I give away the Reese’s peanut butter cups or keep them for myself. Wow they’re good! Would have never bought a big bag of them but must have something for the trick-or-treaters.

  15. hallowen is unique

  16. Wonderful photos. My daughter will never forget approaching a friend’s house on Halloween, to be greeted by said friend, dressed as a peasant. Lying in the open doorway was an open coffin with her boyfriend, dressed as Dracula, inside. The gargoyle lights were impressive. “I believe the stake has finished the fiend, but for those brave enough to turn the stake to ensure his death, I will offer two very large bars of candy.”
    The stake rose from his chest. My daughter ran to the curb, but could still hear Dracula’s groan and see his body rise and fall when I dared to turn the stake. It was glorious…just enough resistance to make it feel it was truly embedded in his chest.
    I’d lay a bet that house was never egged by teens.

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