Is Halloween a ‘proper’ special occasion, or is it too commercialised?

Matthew SmithHead of Data Journalism
October 27, 2022, 1:04 PM GMT+0

Americans and Canadians are most likely to see the spooky celebration as a proper special occasion

The stereotypical image of Halloween is one far detached from its original Christian religious observances of praying for the souls of the departed. That is not to say that the current traditions cannot be held earnestly in their own right – but do people across the west think that corporations have too much influence on the annual event?

A new YouGov International Omnibus survey in 11 western nations that Halloween is seen cynically in each one, and particularly by those outside of North America. We asked more than 12,000 people whether they thought Halloween is celebrated more because it is a ‘proper’ special occasion, or if it was an occasion that people wouldn’t celebrate if it weren’t for pressure from commercial entities like greetings card companies.

Americans and Canadians are the most likely to think that Halloween a ‘proper’ special occasion, at 34% in each country. However, in both cases they are outnumbered by the 51 and 55% of people respectively who think that it is more celebrated because of commercial pressure.

Italians are the least likely to see Halloween as a ‘proper’ special occasion, at just 6%. Fully 85% of Italians see it more as a commercialised event. In none of the other countries surveyed did more than 13% of people consider Halloween a real thing.

Halloween’s influence does seem to be spreading among the younger generations, however. In each country, the youngest adults (those aged 18-34) are more likely than their elders to believe that the holiday is celebrated more because it is a ‘proper’ special occasion. The exception is the US, where results are relatively consistent across all age groups.