What makes it so popular? – Halloween 2009 is expected to be a $4.75 billion retail event in the United States. And while that’s down about a billion from last year due to the economy, it still gives retailers hope. Why is Halloween on the rise as a popular American celebration? Researchers think this is due to a greater interest among young adults in the paranormal and supernatural.

According to recent Gallup polls, belief in aliens is up, as is belief in ghosts and in paranormal activity. There are now seven reality programs on television about ghost hunting. Researcher Lynn Schofield Clark says, “At its heart, this interest in the paranormal and supernatural is about coming to terms with the fact that we have less control over things than we thought we did. And with the fact that maybe we know less than we thought we did, too.”

Clark finds it interesting that in many of today’s ghost hunter television programs and tourist excursions, young people are encouraged to use scientific instruments to track what we used to think of as the spiritual realm. She says, “It’s fun, but it’s also significant that’s it’s happening at a time when there’s a loss of faith in the abilities of religion or science to tell us what is real. There’s a decline in the clout of traditional religious and scientific institutions. And there’s a rise in our own sense that we should question what we think we know as real, too.”

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