Interesting Facts About and the Business of Halloween!

Halloween is right around the corner as it is celebrated on October 31st.  There will be plenty of Halloween parties this weekend, for both children and adults.  Many kids will walk their neighborhoods while dressed up and collect candy.  Halloween is a very popular “holiday” and it has turned into big business, very big business!  I wanted to take a look at the statistics of Halloween and some interesting facts about the Holiday.  I also wanted to look at the origins of Halloween to see how the traditions may have started.

Halloween can be traced back 6000 years to Celtic speaking countries.  It shares a date with Samhain, which was a Gaelic festival held on October 31st and November 1st marking the end of the harvest season.  There are plenty of other influences on Halloween, but when did it become mainstream in the US?  The modern Halloween as we know it started in small Irish and Scottish immigrant communities during the mid 19th century.  By the early 20th century it had spread coast to coast and was celebrated by people of all backgrounds.  Many people would wear homemade costumes and it was not until the 1930’s that mass produced costumes were introduced.  Trick or Treating was stopped for a few years during World War II, but as soon as the war was over it started again and has picked up popularity ever since.

Here is a great post sharing plenty of interesting facts about Halloween.  The first Jack o’ Lanterns were made from turnips.  I mentioned it earlier, but Samhainophobia is considered the fear of Halloween.  The most popular candy for trick or treaters is chocolate.  The great magician, Harry Houdini, died on Halloween.  It is estimated that 75% of Americans will hand out candy.  Not all countries are as obsessed with Halloween as Australia and France believe the day to be overly commercialized.

Is Halloween overly commercialized?  Of course it is!  The reason is because Halloween spending will hit 9 billion this year. Huge chunks of that come in the form of costumes, decorations, and candy.  The most popular costumes for adults are witches, zombies, vampires, and pirates.  Children also love being witches along with superheroes and Star Wars Characters.  It is estimated that 20% of pet owners will purchase a costume for their pet.  The most popular pet costumes are pumpkins, hot dogs, and bumble bees.  The previous article mentions that Halloween is seen as affordable and most of the time people will spend entertainment dollars if something is seen as affordable and entertaining.

In my opinion, Halloween is overly commercialized.  It is recognized as the 2nd highest selling holiday behind Christmas.  Being over commercialized is not necessarily a bad thing though.  If you can spend a few dollars and have a great time with family and friends then it is worth it.  In many neighborhoods it is a great reason to get out and meet your neighbors and make new friends.  I know I will be out, will you?

 

—Victor Mandalawi

 

 

The NBA Season has started!

 

This is a busy time of year for sports fans.  Major League Baseball is halfway through the playoffs while NFL Football and NCAA Football are well underway.  If you did not notice, the NBA season started on Tuesday.  There were two games and both were marquee match-ups.  The first game saw the Celtics and Sixers while the other featured the Warriors opening the season at home and they were presented with their Championship rings.  Now that the season has started I wanted to take a look at what teams will be contenders, what players will compete for the MVP award, and teams that have made significant changes to their rosters.

How will the season play out this year?  Check out this great article giving a preseason power ranking complete with variables for each team.  The article really gives best case and worst case scenarios for each team.  I think it is a very nice primer for the season.  If you can not read it all, certainly find your favorite team and give it a look.  On paper, the Western conference seems to be stronger than ever.  There will be a couple of pretty good teams that don’t make the playoffs.  The Eastern conference is not as deep.  I would think they are top heavy with 3-4 very strong teams and not much else after that.  Now that Lebron is a Laker, the Cavs will not be winning the Eastern conference.  That will at least provide viewers with a different finals match-up for the first time in years!

What player will win the MVP?  Last year James Harden won it while averaging 30 plus points and almost 9 assists a game.  Winning back to back MVP’s is difficult but not unprecedented.  Stephen Curry recently repeated as well as LeBron winning 4 out of 5 in a stretch.  With Durant and Curry on the same team, they will most likely “steal” votes from each other and even though LeBron should win it every year, voters get “tired” of voting for the same player every year.  I think Lebron can win the MVP, but he will have to be very special and lead the Lakers to a much higher finish than many people think.  One of the hot names is Giannis Antetokounmpo and this article gives a pretty good reason as to why he can win the MVP.  It is an interesting name and I can’t make an argument against him.

Every off-season NBA teams can drastically re-shape their roster and this off-season was no different for plenty of teams.  The Lakers added Lebron, Rajon Rondo, and a few other pieces.  They will certainly be a much better team.  I do not think they will compete for a ring but they will be a better team.  The Celtics did not really make any moves, but they will be getting Heyward and Irving back from injury.  When you add those two players to a team that made the conference finals it is a big deal.  The Raptors were able to pick up Kahwi Leonard, will he be enough to put them over the top?  The Warriors added Cousins to an already loaded roster.  Will there be enough basketballs and minutes to go around?

The beginning of any season is always a fun time for fans.  Some fans lose hope pretty quickly while others are treated to special seasons.  Hopefully your favorite team will provide you with plenty of entertainment.  However, if your team stinks you can always watch the rest of the league.  The players in the NBA are so talented that you can watch any game and you should be entertained.  When the marquee match-ups are on you can guarantee plenty of highlight type plays.  I am looking forward to the season and I am going on a limb predicting that the Warriors will win it all, again. OK, maybe it is not a limb…

 

—Victor Mandalawi