Halloween is now big with Disney. Really big. Christmas big. I think it is safe to say that Disney now makes as big a deal out of Halloween as they do Christmas. Pumpkins EVERYWHERE. Halloween bunting and signage and snacks and special menu items. The Haunted Mansion gets an entire Fall makeover based on Jack Skellington and the other characters from Tim Burton’s Nightmare Before Christmas. Jack Skellington merchandise is everywhere – he’s the Mickey Mouse of Halloween.
Wandering around Halloweenie Disneyland, I can’t help but wonder – what EXACTLY is Disney celebrating at Halloween? Some concerned Christians would cry out, “Evil!” or “Satan!”
But I don’t think so. I think Disney’s Halloween celebration is a celebration of … Halloween. Every Halloween they celebrate Halloween itself. Which is … um … “a spirit of spooky fun.” And sugar.
“Well, that’s ridiculous!” you say. “They MUST be celebrating SOMETHING.” Is it? Think about it: What does Disney celebrate at Christmas time? The birth of a savior? Heavens no! They celebrate Christmas. Which is … um … “a spirit of sweet, family fun.” And sugar.
Halloween is skyrocketing in popularity because we as a post-Christian culture find “spooky fun” a lot more interesting that “sweet, family fun.” Spooky trumps sweet. And they both are frosted with heavy doses of sugar, so that point is moot. Halloween is like a frat party for kids, where “beer pong” is replaced with “candy pong.”
My point being, neither holiday is celebrated for its historical meaning. What we really celebrate in America is celebration itself. We celebrate celebrating. And sugar.
Needless to say, for most Americans (and the Disney company), Christmas and Halloween are equally meaningless. We celebrate the fun of celebrating the fun. (Be it “spooky” or “sweet.”) And given our current fascination with zombies, vampires and all things darkly supernatural, it’s no wonder that Halloween is starting to kick Christmas’s butt.
Amazingly, in the middle of all this meaningless candy-pong celebration, Linus is still allowed to come out on CBS once each fall and recite Luke 2 in the Charlie Brown Christmas Special. And America tilts it’s collective head to the side like a confused puppy, wondering, “What does THAT have to do with Christmas??”
Empty. Without a cohesive, shared cultural narrative, that’s what our holidays become. Empty. Celebrations of celebrating. With marshmallow Peeps shaped to fit the theme. Sigh. Not that Walt was ever a particularly deep thinker, but I, for one, could use a little more.