Media Advisory: Stories this week at Wake Forest

WITCHES, ZOMBIES AND VAMPIRES: ADULTS LOVE HALLOWEEN — The National Retail Federation estimates that Americans will spend $1.2 billion for adult costumes this Halloween. That’s more than the $1 billion estimated for children’s getups. “We love a night of fun or a big costume party, but there are deeper reasons we are fascinated with the macabre on Halloween,” Wake Forest English professor Eric Wilson, author of Everyone Loves a Good Train Wreck, says. “It’s a night when we are allowed to be different – in fact, encouraged to be someone else and not our regular selves.”

HALLOWEEN CAN BE SCARY FOR CHILDREN Deborah Best, a professor of psychology, has studied developmental psychology for more than 40 years. She offers simple tips to help parents ease their children’s most common Halloween fears and anxieties. These include letting kids younger than five choose their own “costumes,” which may be as simple as a colorful tie or a big hat; trick-or-treating before it gets dark; and taking cues from your child when the festivity of the night is just too overwhelming. “Most children can’t distinguish fantasy from reality until they are about four years old, so knocking on a stranger’s door in a clown suit can be scary for younger children,” says Best. If you’re afraid Halloween sends mixed signals about religious beliefs, Best says, “Dressing like a devil or a monster for one night won’t jeopardize your child’s belief systems.

HALLOWEEN KICKS OFF THE HOLIDAY SEASON — “It’s natural for retailers to try to have as long a season as possible, and don’t forget — the first-est gets the most-est,” says Roger Beahm, professor of marketing and executive director of the School of Business’s Center for Retail Innovation. “It’s gone beyond just costumes and candy. Retailers know there is a segment of the population that loves decorating for the holidays, and people who love to put up Christmas lights also love to put up Halloween lights.” Pinterest and other social media sites ratchet up visibility for Halloween decorating, too. “It’s a new way to get ideas and also get approval from people with similar interests. Sometimes it can even be competitive with people looking for ways to make their display or decorations bigger and better than their neighbors.”

AMERICANS JOKE ABOUT DEATH BUT HATE TO PLAN FOR IT— Americans decorate their homes with images of ghosts, crypts, coffins and zombies, but most reject as morbid frank discussions of death and the disposition of human remains — tending instead to deal with death on an emergency basis. Professor Tanya Marsh, an expert on the law of human remains, has launched The Funeral Law Blog to address the myriad legal issues that arise. “We are all likely to interact with funeral homes and cemeteries during our adult lives. The American funeral and cemetery industries generate annual revenues of $20 billion per year, and market participants range from international companies to small, family-owned businesses. Understanding the underlying laws helps us make better choices as bereaved consumers. Our collective choices about the disposition of human remains also have significant economic and environmental consequences.”


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