Party Profits - Halloween | Business| Economy and finance news from a German perspective | DW | 02.11.2001
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Party Profits - Halloween

Pumpkins, ghosts, witches and costumes - and big business! Halloween in Germany.


Jack O'Lantern is bringing in money

Hans-Jürgen Schlegel has plenty to smile about this year. He's the biggest Halloween supplier in the Frankfurt area, and he's been ringing up sales at a level usually only seen at carnival time.

"It's become really important. No question. The months of October and November used to be the worst months of the year for us. Now Halloween has completely changed that. I'd say we make 30 percent of what we get from carnival," Schlegel says.

Full moon over nearby Frankenstein Castle, near Darmstadt. Horrific creatures turn these old ruins into a Halloween spectacle. 3 000 horror-fans gathered here for the biggest Halloween party in Europe.

"It's more than just saying "Boo". Halloween is about getting outside yourself, and giving people a good scare."

The Halloween phenomenon, which originated in Scotland, has spread from the US around the world. For nearly a century, Americans have turned the world of horror into light-hearted fun on October 31st.

The tradition only came to Germany about ten years ago. Now half of all Germans between 12 and 35 enjoy a Halloween party.

In the moat around the castle, torturers undertake their hideous deeds. Party-goers try to outdo each other with the most shocking costume. Some say the allure lies in the fact that those in Halloween dress are anonymous, and can therefore play a role that you later simply leave behind.

But there is another theme at the staged horror show at Castle Frankenstein - money. Tonight organizers will rake in about 250 thousand euros. Along with the organizers, party supply providers and costume and make-up shop owners also make a tidy profit.

"The variety of masks available has increased in the last few years, and that has given sales a boost. Manufacturers have gradually realised there is a market, so they have imported the right things to Germany. As far as I can see, sales this year are very good," costume supplier Hans-Jürgen Schlegel says.

Halloween is more than just Schlegel's second mainstay, besides carnival. Germans have caught the spirit of the holiday, and all signs are that they are willing to spend big money to celebrate it.