Face Off: Is Halloween a waste of time?

Face Off: Is Halloween a waste of time?

Each week, our two teenagers will debate a hot topic. This week ...

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Ghouls, ghosts ... or a giant waste of time?
Photo: Sam Tsang/SCMP

Helen Wong, 15, Dallam School, UK

Halloween is not celebrated in Hong Kong as much as it is in the West. Although Halloween used to be a religious festival, it has changed a lot now. Lacking in religious meaning, it has simply become a huge waste of time. At best, it preserves a religious tradition; at worst, it serves as an excuse to make mischief.

It's a hassle for people to make Halloween preparations, which include fighting crowds to look for a costume, and buying tonnes of sweets. Unfortunately the shopping is only the beginning.

The pressure leading up to the evening celebration is massive. Baking cupcakes and spooky cookies, as well as carving the pumpkin, can take hours. And you put all that effort into a festival that has no meaning. It's simply not worth it.

For Halloween, people are allowed to wear colourful costumes and masks without being judged. As far as I am concerned, hiding behind those costumes is pretending to be somebody you're not, which is a complete waste of time. You could easily use that time to do something to improve yourself in real life.

If Halloween didn't exist, so much police and cleaning time could be saved. For example, in the run-up to Halloween, police in Essex, England, urge shopkeepers not to sell eggs, tomatoes and flour to prevent them being thrown at houses. To try to stop things getting out of hand, they give talks in schools to tell students about the impact their "rowdy" behaviour could have on the neighbourhood.

What's more, according to a British newspaper, 18,000 tonnes of "perfectly edible" food was discarded during last year's Halloween celebrations - just imagine the waste!

Yes, a Halloween party is good fun, and it's a time when you could be a child again. But it's a massive waste of time and resources, and the world would benefit greatly if we didn't have any more Halloween celebrations.


Henry Lui, 16, Sha Tin College 

Every killjoy says: "Halloween is a waste of time." Like the fuddy-duddies who seem all too happy to ridicule the festival, this statement is outdated.

It's very easy for people to label it as "a waste of time", but no one seems to be able to make a solid argument against it.

When people think of Halloween, they normally associate it with the actual day, October 31.

But from a business point of view, Halloween runs for quite a long time - starting several weeks before the actual event, in fact. Thanks to the commercialisation of the festival, the public is often filled with the Halloween spirit long before October comes around.

Halloween actually makes a lot of economic sense. Like other festivals, such as Christmas and Easter, Halloween drives up consumer spending. Increasing demand results in higher output, and therefore, higher employment and economic growth. For example, Ocean Park has employed 2,000 temporary workers for its annual Halloween Fest this year. The programme began in August and is due to end next month. These temporary workers are paid as much as HK$185 an hour - almost six times the minimum wage. Though this wouldn't have a big impact on most locals, the temporary workers - most of whom are students - benefit from the extra income.

Halloween benefits small businesses, too, such as toy shops, which record much higher sales during this period. Keeping small businesses "alive" is good for competition and good for the economy.

The arguments criticising Halloween are usually very weak. "It's a waste of time because people just wear silly costumes and stuff," some people might say.

I don't particularly enjoy Halloween myself, but I don't see it as something that is naturally bad and worth banning.

At the end of the day, Halloween is actually beneficial to society, so is hardly "a waste of time". For those of you who are planning to have fun on Saturday, go rejoice in the fact that ol' grandad is wrong.

This article appeared in the Young Post print edition as
Is Halloween a waste of time?

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