Hallowe'en Reflections

by: Heather on 10/30/2009
Posted in: Events

Samhain. All Hallows Eve. Summer's end. The night when the veil between the worlds of the living and the dead is the thinnest, and spirits may pass through.

This ancient ritual, once a time to reflect on the changes of Mother Earth, has evolved (or more accurately devolved) into a poorly disguised consumer frenzy - a celebration of the worst excesses of our throwaway society. Even the staunchest environmentalists can easily find themselves awash in over-packaged, additive-laden, nutrient-free candies and a flood of plastic baubles that will be broken in a week, landfill in two. Writing in SF Gate, columnist Mark Morford examines his own participation in this decidedly unholy spectacle.

I also can't help but imagine, in my warped writerly brain, just where in rural China -- most beloved, wacky, fun American holiday effluvia is, of course, made by foreign nations -- all this stuff is actually manufactured, what sort of bizarre and truly miraculous factory machinery is involved in its creation and whose hands were occupied in the making of the countless plastic spiders and the ceramic pumpkin bowl that now adorn my living room. Dizzying, really, the scope and the scale.

I envision some sort of massive, teeming, low-rise slab of a Chinese factory that was, not a month or two prior to my visit to this particular store, stamping out a zillion plastic skulls, shiny tinsel and all sorts of junk, then shipping it to the nearly 1,000 Targets in the United States. It is simultaneously a dazzling testament to the power of capitalism and human ingenuity, as well a thoroughly depressing statement of holy crap we are so screwed.

So of course, the haunting question is, what to do? Can we participate in Hallowe'en celebrations on our own terms - trick the dominant paradigm with subversive "treats" - or is it time to recycle this holiday altogether? We'd like to hear what you think in the comments below.

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