Halloween has become spookily big in Britain

RASHMEE ROSHAN LALL October 30, 2021

Young man holding a skull. By Frans Hals. One of the paintings being promoted by the National Gallery ahead of Halloween

In 2019, UK spending around Halloween was around £ 500 million, with retailers selling decorations, clothing, confectionery and food.

It will take a while to compute the 2021 figures but it’s a fair bet spending has risen, with Halloween becoming ever more popular in Britain.

The National Gallery’s special focus on Halloween is a case in point. As October 31st rolled around, it sent out an email with the following:

“Life, death and the spiritual realm

Severed heads, creepy critters, witches’ spells and deadly symbols – take a creepy crawl through our more hair-raising paintings and discover why you’ll never see birds in art the same way again!”

And again:

“Watch if you dare:

A gruesome Greek tragedy

Uncover why a severed gorgon’s head with magical powers is a lifesaver in Luca Giordano’s mythical drama.

Birds and death

What have birds got to do with death? Ed Dickenson reveals some of the hidden meanings in our paintings.”

There was more in the same vein, which just goes to show that Halloween has become a convenient vehicle to promote just about anything in Britain. (Though probably not the Royal Family!)