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Halloween in a material world: trick or treat?

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The contemporary secular celebration of Halloween is a far cry from its ancient Celtic pagan origins. Since it was brought over to the United States in the 1840's by Irish immigrants, its observance as an American festivity has grown in popularity, particularly since the 1980's when mass-produced and mass-marketed Halloween-related paraphernalia began to flood the marketplace allowing retailers to make it a major seasonal event. This American rendition of Halloween has somewhat ironically migrated back to Europe, where it has been readily embraced by retailers and consumers alike. This paper explores the perceptions of British consumers towards the contemporary Halloween celebration. The findings of a qualitative study of adults reveal ambivalence about the rising level of commercialisation and Americanisation of the event, yet demonstrate how an enhanced understanding of hedonic meanings attached to Halloween can lead to new insights into why consumers are so attracted to celebrating this increasingly popular festivity.


Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: November 1, 2008

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