Why has Halloween become so popular among adults?

(The Conversation) – Halloween used to be kid stuff. Discontinuing disguise was an important rite of passage. It meant you were one step closer to growing up.

No longer. Today, adults have become avid Halloween fans, especially young adults.

By 2005, just over half of adults celebrated Halloween. Today, that number has grown to over 70 percent. Those between the ages of 18 and 34 attend the most, and they’re also the biggest funders of the holiday, spending more than twice as much on their costumes as older adults and children.

Halloween celebrations have changed, too: less trick-or-treating and more partying and bar-hopping. These days, alcohol is as important to the Halloween economy as candy.

Why is that happend?

Some blame millennials’ refusal to grow up and enter the “real world.”

But that’s too simple an explanation. I examined how young adults celebrate Halloween and how this might relate to the changing norms and expectations of adulthood.

Young adults’ enthusiasm for Halloween may have something to do with the changing nature of adulthood itself.

If Halloween has become more popular among adults, it’s because traditional traits of adulthood have become less clear and less attainable.

The changing meaning of Halloween

Sociologists tell us that if you want to understand a culture, look at its holidays. Christmas gift-giving rituals shed light on how we deal with social relationships. Thanksgiving celebrations depend on a shared understanding of family and national origin stories.

Halloween, with its emphasis on identity, horror, and transgression, can tell us who we want to be and what we fear becoming.

Historian Nicholas Rogers has argued that many of the holiday’s trends and rituals are actually linked to conflicting social values.

For example, urban legends about razor blades in apples in the 1970s reflected cultural fears of loss of community and fear of strangers. More recently, debates about skimpy costumes echo broader concerns that young girls are growing up too quickly.

Halloween was also a holiday embraced by those who were not full members of society. More than a century ago, Irish immigrants who brought their Halloween traditions to America used the celebration to strengthen community ties.

Initially, they were distinguished by their Halloween traditions. But as they assimilated, they spread the holiday to the rest of the country. By the 1950s, it had become a children’s night. Later, gays and lesbians made Halloween a place to celebrate their differences without stigmatizing them.

The “emerging adult” and the space in between

One could argue that today’s young adults live in a kind of purgatory.

Traditional features of adult responsibility and independence—family, career, home ownership—have either been postponed or abandoned altogether, out of choice or necessity. The transition to adulthood has become uncertain, long and complicated.

In recent years, psychologists and sociologists have coined a term for this transitional phase in life, which usually spans the 20’s and 30’s: ’emerging adulthood’.

According to these experts, identity exploration, self-centeredness, and feeling trapped between two worlds can be hallmarks of emerging adulthood. There is also a sense of wonder and possibility.

Others have a less rosy view of adulthood, describing it as a time of fear and anxiety about an unknown future.

Millennial Monsters

So why might an aspiring adult be attracted to Halloween?

Most obviously, Halloween costumes let them experiment and explore themselves and their identities. The possibilities are endless. Witch? pair of robots? Sexy robot? emoticons? Banksy’s shredded art?

Young adults I’ve spoken to often refer to this as their favorite part of vacationing — the chance to be whatever they want, at least for one night.

Costumes are identity work, but they are also pure work. This is important in a world where many young adults are stuck in unfulfilling jobs.

Cultural critic Malcolm Harris argues that while young adults are highly educated and hard-working compared to older cohorts, they rarely find jobs that match their qualifications and skills.

Halloween is all about hard work and creative thinking. For example, costume contests in bars or online provide opportunities for people to construct costumes that combine humorous or contemporary cultural references with craftsmanship. You can participate in more than just Halloween; You can “win” it with the best costume.

And young adults don’t do it alone. Some have told me that they will be testing different costumes on social media to see which one gets the best response. Others will be inspired by others online.

In this way, Halloween connects to the modern connected culture where young adults use social media to navigate the world and make decisions. Sociologists have found that many young adults build a “collaborative self” by constantly looking at others online to reinforce and evaluate their identity.

Halloween has always promised a chance to be creative and become something different.

But by embracing the holiday, aspiring adults are doing more than just rejecting traditional adulthood. They play with identity in a way that leverages their skills and cultural literacy. They’re redefining ways of growing up—and becoming. And in the process, they’ve changed the way Halloween is celebrated.

https://wgntv.com/news/nexstar-media-wire/why-has-halloween-become-so-popular-among-adults/ Why has Halloween become so popular among adults?

Grace Reader

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