Halloween 2009 : How the internet is changing Halloween

Halloween is about dressing up, taking pictures, partying like a lunatic and telling tales of outlandish or paranormal “true” stories. In other words it’s a blog, social network and viral-hype extravaganza. Here are the ways that the Internet’s influence is transforming this most Internet-friendly of festivals.

Conventional witches, devils and even nurses outfits aren’t worth tweeting about. Sites like Flickr and Facebook provide an infinite source of original ideas, not only from instant access to what the celebrities are wearing at Halloween, but also what the most original and dedicated punters from all over the world have come up with.

How Halloween - the most web-friendly of festivals - has been twisted and embellished by creative online communities.

If there’s one thing that beats being inventive, sexy or twisted – when appealing to an online audience - it’s being timely. Last year there were plenty of Sarah Palins and Heath Ledger-inspired Jokers (after the 2008 release of The Dark Night). This year’s costume fad looks set to be based on an exclusively internet-hyped figure: the so-called ‘Balloon Boy’. Costumes of a six-year-old Colorado prankster, who recently made the news after he was thought to have been carried away by a helium ballon, are reported to be flying off the virtual shelves of online store Plantraco. Other online halloween forums this reveal that another popular outfit will be Kanye West with a loudspeaker, in parody of Kanye West’s outburst at this year’s MTV awards, which became a web sensation.


Competition for the best costume extends beyond the party - to facebook, blogs and website aggregators, like Digg.com, where millions of people worldwide pick out and vote for the most inventive outfits of that year that have been posted on internet sites. Anyone dedicated enough to dress as Facebook is giving themselves a headstart in this arena, of course.

Game over for apple-bobbing

This year with Twitter hosting the first ever online séance, which they are calling a ‘Tweance’, there is every chance that Halloween parties will ditch their usual after-dinner activities to gather round computer screens and iPhones, instead of a bowl of icy water and some half eaten Granny Smiths.

Europeans want to be American (for a day)

It was the Scots and the Irish who took the tradition of celebrating Halloween to United States, but it is the Americans that have shown us how to celebrate Halloween in style. The Halloween buzz in America has, via YouTube videos and social networking sites, rubbed off on the UK, which leads to the next point...

Growing popularity

Judging by costume sales in recent years, Halloween has seen an apparent steep rise in popularity in the UK. According to research by thekidswindow.co.uk the UK market for costumes grew at an average rate of over 50 per cent between 2003 and 2008. Halloween is now the third most lucrative trading period for retailers after Christmas and Easter.

Halloween countdown and comedown

According to the team at Facebook, the social networking site typically sees a 20 per cent increase in photo-sharing during “Halloween week”, which is why they have invented 'Click or Treat' which involves them making extra photograph space big enough 'for the equivalent of two Libraries of Congress'.

Halloween winds down well into November online, and some people who really like their own costumes will even recycle their photographs of their Halloween outfits using Photoshop, as this opportunistic blogger did.

Halloween 2009 and Google has unveiled a new logo or "doodle" on its homepage to celebrate, as thousands of children around the world undertake annual “trick or treating”.

By clicking on the Google logo, users can view a series of Halloween 2009-themed images before being directed to a results page.

The logo initially appears grey with the letter "e" in the shape of a pumpkin. One click and the Halloween 2009 logo is transformed to show sweets making the shape of each letter. The pile of sweets gets bigger with a second click, while a third shows only the sweet wrappers remaing as if someone has eaten the horde.

It is the latest in a long line of events that have recently been celebrated by Google.

The 40th anniversaries of the Apollo 11 moon landing of 1969, and the 50th of James Watson and Francis Crick’s discovery of the shape of DNA, are among other events marked by the "Google Doodle".

Michael Jackson, Albert Einstein, Leonardo da Vinci, Galileo Galilei, Mahatma Gandhi and Confucius are all famous named to have recently marked by Google's doodle designer Dennis Hwang.

The bar code is the latest to have been commemorated by Google with a doodle logo.

Last month Google released a special misspelt version of its own name – as "Googlle" – to mark the company's 11th birthday and it recently sparked fevered speculation with a series of UFO themed doodles to mark the anniversary of the birth of the War of the Worlds author, HG Wells.

The images - which included a of light from a flying saucer beam lifting the second O in an apparent abduction, linking to a search page for “unexplained phenomenon”, crop circles and walkers in the Surrey countryside - initially helped fuel internet conspiracy theories.

Recently, the company unveiled its latest Google-related web enigma, Mystery Google, a strange Google spin-off that gives you someone else’s search results.

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