How (Halloween has) changed: someone saw they could make money off it - "Woodstock" in the comments section of I Hate Halloween
Woodstock nailed this one on the head. Halloween has moved from an obscure holiday that provided a little fun for the kids to a $5 Billion free-for-all because candy companies, costume companies and the like figured they could make money on it.
But Halloween is not alone in this regard. In fact, there are now several "holidays" created solely by corporate marketing departments: Cinco de Mayo, SuperBowl Sunday, and an endless list of Hallmark holidays ranging from Boss's Day to Secretary's Day.
And I can't see any good coming from this trend. Peering into my crystal ball, here is what I see the corporate marketing departments coming up with in the future:
Pearl Harbor Day - A major sake brand pitching the phrase "You Never Know When Your Enemy Will Become Your Best Friend" starts promoting people to eat sushi and have sake every December 7. Sake sales and sushi restaurant sales explode, and within five years people are holding sushi parties at home. Special Kirin and Sapporo displays start appearing in grocery stores around Thanksgiving.
Erection Day - Viagra, taking a play on "Election Day", promotes ED awareness for the first Tuesday of every November using the tag line "Making Love is More Interesting Than Watching the Returns". Condom companies join in with special coupons and give-aways. Within two election cycles there are mini baby boomlets the first half of every August.
Canada Day - Molson and Canada Dry, seeing the success of Cinco de Mayo, pitch Americans to start holding "Canada Day" celebrations every July 1. The effort fizzles, however, as the marketing departments can't come up with a Canadian snack to promote along with the drinks.