Monday, October 25, 2010

Seasonal Traditions

I really love shopping at Target--I always find great things there.  But I recently saw some merchandise that I decided I just really have a problem with.

In the Halloween section I saw quite a few products that, although cute and Halloween-y by design, were not Haloween-y by nature.  Here's a few examples of what I mean:

It's a "Countdown to Costume" calendar, with a little window to open each day in anticipation of the holiday.  This of course is a total rip-off of the Germanic traditional Advent Calendars counting down the days to Christmas.   

There were a few more Christmas rip-offs too.  Halloween Nutcrackers, like the traditional soldier nutcrackers seen at Christmastime.  That based on our cultural love of Tchaikovsky's ballet "The Nutcracker" performed often at Christmastime.  Also, there were kits to build "Haunted Gingerbread Houses."

Honestly the Nutcrackers and Haunted Gingerbread houses don't get to me quite as much as the advent calendar.  I get that people have nutcracker collections and want novelty ones.  (I mean we spent $1.99 to get a Lego minifigure dressed as an English explorer with a pith helmet after all.) And candy houses probably originated from the Grimm fairy tale of Hansel and Gretel which isn't particularly Christmas-related other than the fact that most of our Christmas traditions are of Germanic origin. 

But the thing that really threw me over the edge, which I didn't get a picture of because they were all sold out by the time I made it back to target with my camera (believe it or not blogging isn't the #1 priority in my life) was the Pumpkin Patch Hunt set.  Sets of little round plastic pumpkins that you pop open, fill with candy then go hide outside for your kids to find.

. . . sound familiar?

Long ears, cotton tail, pastel-colored baskets ring a bell?  That is an Easter egg hunt they are talking about!  Now, I love doing fun things with my children and celebrating holidays; but I have two problems with these products I saw.

#1 I get really frustrated by something where you can look at the product and know that "they" are just trying to find an easy way to "cash in" on existing traditions. . .  "Give me a piece of that market pie."   

#2 "They" are effectively killing all of our meaningful traditions by essentially homogenizing all of our holiday celebrations.  The candy companies have been doing it for years.  They just slap a different wrapper on the same candy bar and suddenly it's a holiday candy.  No! Candy Corns are for Halloween. Candy Canes are for Christmas.  Conversation Hearts are for Valentines Day.  Peeps and Cadbury Eggs are for Easter.

Fireworks are for Fourth of July, Caroling is for Christmas, Auld lang syne is for New Year's.  If we homogenize all of our holiday traditions we will, in fact, be loosing the thing that we look forward to holidays for.  The little memories and traditions are what make holidays a fun time that is different from the days before and after.

It's fall.  Take a walk to look at the changing leaves.  Carve a pumpkin.  Eat some candy corn and pumpkin spice bars with cream cheese frosting.  Celebrate Oktoberfest.  Make a Halloween costume, and visit your neighbors. Go apple picking.

 Take a trip to a corn maze or pumpkin patch.  It's fun.  It's more fun because it only happens once. each. year.

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