When is Halloween? I Don’t Know, I’ll Check My Calendar
Okay, Weenies. So I’ve been reading quite a few blog posts lately about changing trick-or-treat dates to days other than Oct. 31. And (surprise) — I have an opinion or two about the subject.
Okay, so, exactly two opinions. And they’re conflicting.
Allow me to elaborate.
What it’s All About
If you haven’t heard of this practice, here it is in a nutshell: many cities across the U.S. elect an actual trick-or-treat date each year other than Oct. 31.
It’s been going on for years now. And it has quite a few Hallowphiles in an uproar — and petitioning their cities and counties to “keep Halloween Oct. 31.”
Why Not Move the Date?
On the one hand, yes, it seems stupid to move Halloween to a date other than October 31…from my own personal perspective, for the following reasons:
- October 31 has always been Halloween; it’s tradition.
- All Hallow’s Eve means, in its most literal sense, the day before All Saints (“Hallows”) Day, which is November 1. And the day before Nov. 1 is…yeah, you guessed it.
- The standard reasons for changing the date in any given city stick in my craw. One popular reason: high school football games. (You’re kidding me. And I am a big supporter of high school football.) The second, often somewhat “hidden” reason (which was a huge one on Halloween 2010): trick-or-treating just can’t happen on a Sunday, ZOMG. You can’t have “the Devil’s holiday” on a hooooooooooly day. (Don’t even get me started.)
And On the Other Hand…
On the other hand, is it really so crazy to have a holiday that “floats” on the calendar? Easter is a different date each year, for example. So is Thanksgiving.
And if we truly want to get real here about tradition, the ancient Celts almost certainly — hell, just certainly — did not celebrate Halloween on Oct. 31, except as an occasional (unknown to them) accident. They couldn’t have — they didn’t use a Roman calendar (until Roman occupation times, anyway).
Dissent…and That’s Just the Grownups
Frankly, the passionate uproar over floating trick-or-treat dates would have anyone believing that Halloween has some sort of dire future placed way off-schedule. The fist-pumping seems to have taken an almost anti-Orwellian rant for a few rebellious souls. (In the case of the author I just referenced — well, she seems to have tried for tongue-and-cheek, but she missed the mark by a hair. Just my opinion.)
And dissenters occupy city council meetings to protest the moving of their (and my) very favorite day…along with its glorious memories of being allowed out on a school night. (That’s when council members aren’t arguing amongst themselves to begin with.)
Anectodally, I’ve heard several stories of towns that were confused as to “when Halloween really was,” and had costumed children showing up on doorsteps on two or even three different days.
A Point We May All Be Missing: Nobody’s Actually Moving Halloween’s Date
One thing that seems to be flying over everyone’s head — dissenters and Koolaid-drinkers alike — is that Halloween’s date isn’t being moved, and hasn’t been moved in at least the past 15 centuries. Anywhere.
Rather, what’s being moved around (potentially) is the date for trick-or-treating in various cities or counties.
And yes, that makes me sad. I hate seeing my own childhood traditions changed. I always think mine must have been so much better than my children’s.
But folks. Doesn’t everyone think that? My mom thought her childhood Halloweens of a paper bag with holes cut out and magic marker drawings of pumpkins on the sides were “so much more special and meaningful” than my own trick-or-treating days in the 70s and 80s.
But the date of Halloween itself? All Hallow’s Eve? Still October 31. Trick-or-treating dates notwithstanding. No change at all there.
Now and, gods and ghouls willing, forever.
As For the Actual Trick-or-Treating…
If your city is moving trick-or-treating to a night other than Oct. 31 and you feel strongly about the change, by all means, visit your city council. There will undoubtedly be a meeting (or a number of them) to approve or reject the motion. Put your vote in, or at least let your voice be heard.
It’s important to note that parents and kids aren’t the only ones protesting a change of trick-or-treating dates across the nation. For many, many haunters, whose greatest pleasure is opening an elaborate, costly and very exhausting (gods bless ’em) haunt every year for the children on just one night a year, having that night be October 31 is very important — and can you blame them? I can’t.
But if you simply love the spookiness of Halloween, and all your protests haven’t been heard by the local Gestapo, don’t despair. You can still have trick-or-treating and Halloween night. Hold a special party on Oct. 31. Perform a ritual, if you’re religious. Light up all the lights on your haunt again, lack of trick-or-treaters be damned. Then next year, starting some time in August at the latest, visit your city council again to protest a non-Oct. 31 trick-or-treating date. “Once” or even “many times” does not equal always — if you’re willing to speak out.
Halloween will always be Halloween. We do have that choice, at least. May we always have that choice. Long live Halloween…no matter how, and when, you celebrate it.
NOTE: Please click on the images for credits to the artists. Freakin’ WordPress.