Halloween 2022 Global Trends
Halloween has been growing exponentially in popularity worldwide, with statistics showing that it's being celebrated along with traditional holidays in countries across Europe, Asia, and South America.
Of course, it is biggest in the U.S. but with a vast majority of Europeans saying they will be celebrating and countries like Japan and China also joining the trick-or-treating fun, you may want to explore some curious traditions and get inspired with ideas for decorating and celebrating Halloween 2022.
Record-Breaking Halloween Season in the U.S.
We can anticipate a record-breaking 2022 Halloween season as consumers are ready to celebrate big this Halloween after two years of reduced participation because of COVID-19. The National Retail Federation, working with Prosper Insights & Analytics, reports that 69% of Americans plan to celebrate the holiday, up from 65% in 2021 and 58% in 2020.
Americans will celebrate the traditions of Halloween by dressing in costumes and telling tales of witches and ghosts. Of course, as a main feature of the holiday, pumpkins are to be carved into glowering jack-o'-lanterns and children will parade from house to house, knocking on doors and calling out "Trick or treat!" hoping to have their bags filled with candy.
Americans are expected to spend 10.6 billion USD this Halloween, or an average of $102.74, marking the first time the amount has hit triple digits. Adults are expected to spend $1.7 billion on their costumes and another $1.2 billion on kids’ costumes, with a whopping $710 million on pet costumes. Total costume spending is expected to top $3.6 billion, up from $3.3 billion last year and $3.2 billion in 2019 before the pandemic.
Although many Americans will be purchasing their Halloween costumes and decorations from retailers like Amazon or Target, hardcore fans will be investing in purchasing authetic costumes or unique decor pieces from abroad.
Young Europeans Are Planning Halloween Parties, too
Gone are the days when Halloween was unique to North America: in recent years the popularity of the holiday increased dramatically overseas as well. Young Europeans in particular seem very excited about Halloween this year and have big plans to celebrate.
Londoners are not behind their American counterparts when it comes to celebrating Halloween. There are Ghost Bus Tours, The London Dungeon (of course), Warner Brothers Studio and the making of the Dark Arts in Harry Potter, Jack the Ripper Ghosts Walks and lots more.
Barcelona, Madrid, Paris and Berlin are all planning Halloween events and activities. Organizers are all expecting a bumper 2022 as vaccines are widely available and restrictions are loosening up as the worst of the pandemic winds down.
Young Europeans don’t just copy what North Americans do for Halloween, they adapt the holiday based on their regional preferences. And right now in Western Europe, the mood is for in-person gatherings. Young Europeans want to step out the door for Halloween: 52% disagree with the statement “I’d rather stay in than go out on Halloween this year”—a 10pt jump from last year. This is quite different in North America, where a majority of young consumers plan to stay in for the holiday (54%).
For European Gen Z and Millennials, Halloween is mostly about hanging out with friends—31% say they plan to hang out with friends—and less about spending time with their family. Only 22% have plans to hang out with family, compared with 35% in NA. For young Europeans, Halloween is an opportunity to go out, and have a good time.
Halloween Festivities in Germany
Halloween is gaining popularity in Germany, with many local nationals celebrating it in the same fashion as those living in the United States. But before Halloween, Germans long celebrated a similar holiday in April, called Hexennacht.
Halloween was introduced to Germany in the 1990s, according to cultural records. And since then, it has steadily become a popular holiday celebrated by locals, especially in areas where American military personnel are stationed. When not in the midst of a global pandemic, German children usually make their own costumes and partake in local Halloween festivities using the phrase, “Süßes oder Saueres,” which is similar to “trick or treat.”
While modern-day Halloween festivities are usually targeted towards younger German children, older teens and adults sometimes wait until the spring to participate in a traditional Hexennacht.
Hexennacht — otherwise known as Witches Night — is an ancient German holiday that occurs on April 30, annually. According to folklore, humans once relied on bonfires and dancing to expel nearby witches and evil spirits. But this practice has since morphed into community-held carnivals and teenagers playing harmless pranks on adults and neighbors, such as: doorbell ditching, spreading mustard on door handles, throwing eggs and wrapping cars in toilet paper.
Increased Spending on Halloween in the UK
Guy Fawkes Day (also known as Guy Fawkes Night and Bonfire Night) has historically been more significant than Halloween in the UK.
Celebrated with parades, bonfires, and fireworks on November 5 ― you might be familiar with the rhyme "Remember, remember the fifth of November" ― Guy Fawkes Day commemorates the failed Gunpowder Plot. The scheme, orchestrated by Roman Catholics in 1605, was an attempt to blow up Parliament in response to King James I's refusal to expand the religious freedom of Catholics.
The commercialized, American version of Halloween, however, is also taking off.
However, Brits tend to wear more traditional Halloween costumes, dressing up as ghosts, zombies, and other fearsome creatures. It's also rare for people in the UK to put up an excessive amount of Halloween decorations. Going door to door for candy is not as big a deal in the UK and Brits might be more inclined to eat Halloween candy themselves rather than distribute it to kids.
Halloween in Japan - All About Cosplay and Candy
Surprisingly for the country that trademarked cosplay, Halloween arrived late to Japan, and only gained true awareness and popularity when introduced to the mainstream Japanese public by Disneyland. Halloween therefore first officially arrived in Japan in the year 2000, when Tokyo Disneyland held their first Halloween event.
Ever since, there has been a substantial growth in Halloween’s popularity amongst the Japanese public, and this has veritably exploded in the past 10 years, with the festival now increasingly commonplace. However, not all facets of Halloween have reached, or gained prominence, in Japan. Unsurprisingly, for a country with such high regard for the respect of others, trick or treating remains non-existent, as the practice conflicts with the prominence Japan places on not being a pain to others.
Furthermore, despite Disneyland Tokyo’s spooky events and décor, Halloween events and attractions on the whole are still much less prolific in Japan than in western countries. Notable hesitation exists surrounding the festival itself, especially with the older Japanese generation, and Halloween therefore hasn’t been accepted completely in Japanese society just yet, evidencing just how novel the festival truly is.
Without such classic Halloween staples as trick or treating or haunted houses, you may be left thinking; how exactly did Halloween take off in Japan, and how do the Japanese celebrate the festival? The answer is simple; cosplay!
Cosplay, or Kosupure, is absolutely huge in Japan, a staple of their popular culture, and especially prolific amongst the younger Japanese generation. Whilst the practice originated in America, moving over to Japan in the 1980’s, the term was first coined by Nobuyuki Takahashi, a prominent Japanese film director and producer. Cosplay proceeded to blow up in Japan in the 1990’s, becoming more commonly and skilfully practiced in Japan than any other country. It’s therefore no surprise that Halloween is predominantly celebrated in Japan via cosplay, with the western festival giving Japanese youth another excuse to break out their cosplay skills!
Today, many Japanese schools and businesses allow staff and students to dress up on the day of Halloween, whilst popular Halloween street parties focus heavily on the displaying of costumes (as seen in Harajuku, Roppongi and Shibuya).
Due to this focus on cosplay, Halloween in Japan therefore differs greatly to western countries in that, whilst children do partake in the festivities, the holiday itself is substantially more aimed at adults than children.
Not to be confused with Halloween, the ancient Buddhist festival of Obon is a three-day event honoring late ancestors, which reunites families with their ancestral spirits through visitations to household altars.
Whilst Obon celebrates and remembers the departed, with similarities to other cultural festivals honoring the deceased, such as the Mexican Day of the Dead, it is an entirely different festival to Halloween, with none of the same practices or connotations. The festival also takes place in July and August (region-dependent), rather than October. However, due to its similar Halloween-like themes, the religious festival of Obon is often, and wrongly, thought of as a ‘Japanese Halloween Festival’ of sorts.
Obon predominantly involves hanging lanterns in front of homes to guide ancestral spirits, as well as making offerings, to free spirits of their agony and anguish. It is also a time for relatives to return to their ancestral homes, and visit and clean ancestral graves. Obon is therefore much less light-hearted than Halloween, with a clear focus on pain and suffering (quite literally; ‘Obon’ means ‘to hang upside down’).
Likewise, due to their year-round love of sugary confections, and despite the lack of trick or treating taking place, Halloween candy has massively taken off in Japan, with a plethora of Japanese Halloween candy and desserts readily available across the country within the spooky season. Japan now serves up some of the most exciting and unusual Halloween candy ideas, with many confectioners such as Pocky beginning to regularly release their own Halloween themed treats.
In terms of Japanese Halloween décor, you simply can’t go wrong with using origami paper to create a whole range of origami Halloween decorations. From ghosts and ghouls to paper pumpkins, all can be beautifully crafted with origami, creating Halloween décor that’s both unique and tasteful.
Despite being a fairly recent addition to their society, the Japanese have, on the whole, enthusiastically embraced the spooky season in all its glory, amalgamating it beautifully into their pre-existing cosplay culture, and making Halloween in Japan a unique and thoroughly Japanese experience.