Wednesday, October 20, 2021

Pumpkin makes the ultimate fetish: Halloween candelabra

The U.S. pumpkin-flavored Jack-o-lantern has its origins in Italy. Around the globe, the pumpkin has been chock-full of ageless symbolism. In Japan, a giant pumpkin is rolled down a kakuni leaf — the slender man-made stems that attach trees to the landscape — with the goal of (unsuccessfully) protecting the tree from wild wind and cutting off further branches from falling into the nearby river. Hundreds of enormous

pumpkins also serve as tombstones in the Tumu cemetery in Japan, and from the height of the 1970s in Vietnam the crude fetid milk created by sulfuric acid transformed into the stench of the young Napa Valley. But there is one pumpkin that has gotten downright hyperbolic: the Halloween decoration jack-o-lantern that seems to have once been a blue monster on land. The term is derived from the common English word jack,

which describes anything from a jack-o-lantern jack in the cage to the vintage hats and pearls for Christmastime, but the first usage was in England to describe a jack o’lantern candelabra: jack on top of a pumpkin-headed candelabra. As legend has it, the origin of the scarecrow-like adornment dates back to King Henry II, who was dismayed to find that his army had gotten into the dead of winter so early that they

might not be able to celebrate Christmas, the year-end secular holiday. By the time his son Henry V arrived in England, matters had improved — but his reign so marked by anarchy, monsters and sackings, there was little time for fear or gloom. Americans love one time-honored tradition: spooky objects and ghouls and vampires. This Halloween, Americans will spend a record $10 billion on candy, decorations and costumes,

according to data released yesterday by the National Retail Federation. That’s a 14 percent increase from the $8.8 billion consumers spent on Halloween in 2017. The average holiday shopper, according to the survey, will buy 142 pieces of Halloween candy — up from 121 in 2017. Pet costumes will take third place, at $1.2 billion, up from $1.1 billion last year. Other key data: Malls and chains: 36 percent more

Halloween spending, up by $303 million to $3.3 billion. 39 percent more Halloween spending, up by $303 million to $3.3 billion. Neighborhoods: 27 percent more Halloween spending, up by $359 million to $1.6 billion. 25 percent more Halloween spending, up by $359 million to $1.6 billion. Upscale shopping centers: $170 million more Halloween spending, up by $1.9 billion to $4.3 billion. $170 million more Halloween

spending, up by $1.9 billion to $4.3 billion. Grocery stores: $10 million more Halloween spending, up by $5 million to $747 million. $10 million more Halloween spending, up by $5 million to $747 million. Off-price stores: $15 million more Halloween spending, up by $4 million to $110 million. $15 million more Halloween spending, up by $4 million to $110 million. Local businesses: $11 million more Halloween spending,

up by $8 million to $124 million. $11 million more Halloween spending, up by $8 million to $124 million. Spooky fun: Increased spending on Halloween-themed movies, at $56 million. That’s up 14 percent from the previous year. Increased spending on Halloween-themed movies, at $56 million. That’s up 14 percent from the previous year. Online spending: $97 million spent on Halloween related items, up by 12 percent from

last year. This year, the NRF also found that women are outspending men by $94 per shopping trip. Go to Go2formidget.com to see all the data.

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