Of all the things that I love about the fall, and there are many of them, the thing I love the most has to be Halloween. Let me be clear, when I say Halloween, I don’t mean October 31st, I mean the entire month of October. In fact, I might even go as far as to say the final week of September belongs to the holiday as well.
Yes, I am one of those people. The unabashed lovers of the holidays, that, given their way, would have decorations up year-round. The only thing really stopping me is that I have people who love me that would never let me do that, and for them I am truly grateful.
Like many others of a certain age, I sometimes fall into the trap of reminiscing about the past, especially my childhood, and comparing how it was then to how it is now. Not that I have false memories of having to march uphill for five miles in the snow to get to my first piece of candy, but I have noticed some major changes to how we now celebrate the holiday. Specifically, I feel that we have of late, undergone a sort of Christmasification of Halloween – and, I for one am all for it.
The first aspect of Halloween that has directly taken from Santa’s realm was the existence of Halloween villages. I was excited to discover that this was a thing because I am obsessive over my Christmas village display. Christmas villages date back to the 1300’s as an extension of traditional Nativity sets and took off from there. I wrote a piece about them last season if you want to know more.
There are many manufacturers of little holiday villages, but in my opinion, the king of them all has to be Dept 56. I would consider Lemax to be a somewhat close second. I was surprised that the former introduced their first Halloween building in 1998, and the latter followed suite in 2000. I guess it wasn’t so surprising, as I was in my twenties, and not overly concerned with decorating anything at that point of my life.
When it comes to Christmas villages, I am Dept 56 all the way. I really only purchase second hand, due to the extreme sticker shock I experience when checking them out at Bronner’s in Frankenmueth. When it comes to Halloween villages though, I am 100% in favor of Lemax. I have a couple of Dept 56 pieces, but I have come to appreciate Lemax’s aesthetic when it comes to Halloween. However, I can’t say the same when it comes to Christmas. I can’t really explain why, but the heart wants what the heart wants.
The advantageous thing about preferring Lemax is that Michaels Craft Store, that sells the brand and has exclusive pieces, seems to have items on sale more than any other retailer anywhere. My advice, if you want to start collecting pieces, is to wait until after Halloween, when they have stuff off for as much as 80%. One of the things I love most about November are these after Halloween sales.
When it comes to my Halloween villages, I’m much more laid back about what I put in it. I tend to be a Dicken’s Village purist when it comes to Christmas, but at Halloween, I like to throw whatever little figures I might pick up into the mix. Among other things, I have an Adam figure from Beetlejuice and a Jerry Only doll from The Misfits playing with a skeleton Mariachi band.
Another aspect of Christmas that has seeped into October is the increased availability of Halloween themed advent calendars. The first one I noticed, and purchased, was a gremlin themed calendar that was a fold out movie theatre set with a new gremlin figurine for the 31 days of October. Due to the movie’s setting of Christmastime, one of the gremlins is wearing a Santa hat, but it is clearly meant for the fall. These figures now happily reside in my village, where they belong. A quick search online will now find you a vast array of calendars to choose from. My favorites have a countdown of 13 to the big day.
Perhaps the biggest culprit in the Christmasification of Halloween is the appropriation of the decorated tree. Few symbols are so tied to a specific holiday as the Christmas tree. The tradition, brought to England from Germany by Prince Albert became a huge hit in the Victorian age, and like most of our Christmas traditions here in the States, we get them from there.
I think because of the extreme sentimental connection to the Christmas tree, this was the most recent addition to my Halloween decorating. Even I thought that it might be a bridge too far, but my schmaltzy love of the holidays soon won me over. We started small, with a four-foot tree that my daughter and I made ornaments for using Shrinky Dinks. Yes, they still exist. It was quickly realized however, that this was not going to satiate my holiday lust, and we ended up with a 7 ½ foot black pencil tree last year. The Shrinky Dinks are still on it, with various other store-bought ornaments, purple garland, purple and orange lights, and a big spider tree topper.
Even though this might be the most recent crossover decoration of the season, Ray Bradbury envisioned it’s coming in his 1972 novel The Halloween Tree. If books aren’t your thing, it was made into a cartoon in 1993.
For some, all these adaptions from the Yule-Tide experience might feel alarming. Perhaps you’re a Halloween purist who doesn’t like mixing their holiday enjoyment. It’s costumes and candy and that’s it for you. I get it. You probably don’t like your sides touching your main on your dinner plate either, do you? Or maybe you find Christmas too sacred of a tradition to take over into October’s festivities. What I would respectfully say to that, is that I’m fairly certain that O’ Tanenbaum never made it into the Bible. So maybe try a little levity.
As for me, I would love to see more crossover action with the holidays. Why aren’t we bobbing for candy-canes? Why can’t we dress up like reindeer and elves and go door to door for fruitcake? I want to sit on a giant turkey’s lap and tell him what I want for Thanksgiving dinner!
You get the picture.
Jamiel Dado is passionate about plants, the holidays, and wants to spread his love of gardening, and the holidays, to anyone who will listen.