You Can’t Change the Date of Halloween, But . . . .

You Can’t Change the Date of Halloween, But . . . . July 29, 2019

The internet has a tendency to make mountains out of molehills, and such is the case with a recent petition to “change the date of Halloween” from October 31 to the last Saturday of October. Currently this petition has 100,000 “signatures” on Change.org, a rather insignificant number considering that there are 350 million people living in the United States. This petition is pretty stupid for reasons I’ll outline below, and so is the over-reaction to it that I’m seeing online.

Image from MaxPixel. Public Domain image.

Halloween Is Not a National Holiday

The stupidest thing about this petition is that it’s addressed to President Donald Trump, which might be useful if Halloween were a federal holiday, but it’s not. Federal holidays are days when the government is closed (along with schools, generally, and the post office), and that’s just not the case with Halloween. A lot of places and businesses celebrate Halloween, but that’s not the same as it being an official, federal, holiday.

To put it simply, the President cannot move the date of Halloween. A President could suggest that communities move their celebrations of Halloween, but that’s not the same thing.

People Move Halloween Activities ALL THE DAMN TIME

The idea that celebrations of Halloween on October 31 have some sort of ultra-special significance are blind to the reality of how things work. For years I’ve celebrated Halloween via parties and costumed trips to my local watering hole, and you know what?, the majority of those were not on the night of October 31! I know, sacrilege, right?

There are all sorts of communities that already have moved trick or treating away from October 31, and for good reason, it’s a school and work night for the majority of people. And this is where the petition too many people are freaking out about makes the most sense. It would be easier for kids and families to enjoy traditional Halloween festivities if they were on a Saturday.

“Witches Round the Cauldron” by Daniel Gardner. From WikiMedia.

Just imagine a whole day of Halloween-related stuff! Kids could enjoy a party and pumpkin carving with friends during the day, and then have hours to get dressed up! They’d also be able to stay out later since there would be no school the next day, and the night would most likely be safer due to less traffic on the roads. As the petition says, a Saturday celebration of Halloween would make for a “safer, longer, stress-free” holiday.

If Halloween were observed this year on Saturday Oct. 26 would it really feel that different for most people than a night of trick or treating six days later? It would still be October and it would still feel like Autumn. The sun would be in the sky for an extra minute or two but that’s about the only major difference I can think of.

Halloween is Not Samhain

Samhain is an ancient pagan holiday celebrated by the Irish-Celts, and today it’s been reborn as a holiday for Witches and Pagans. Some of Samhain’s practices most likely became a part of the modern day celebration of Halloween, but Halloween also contains lots of Christian and secular elements. We’ve only been celebrating Halloween in its current form for less than 100 years. (Trick or treating as practiced today is not even 100 years old!)

Halloween is haunted houses, candy, costumes, parties, and trick or treating. That has nothing to do with my spiritual practices as a Witch. At Samhain I celebrate the final harvest, honor my beloved dead, and walk with Persephone. Those are not the same things, not even close. A lot of us decorate with Halloween stuff at Samhain, but that doesn’t make my spiritual practice of Samhain the same thing.

I already don’t celebrate Samhain on October 31 most years as it is. The trick or treaters disrupt rituals, and yes, it’s often easier to have the coven over on a Friday or Saturday night. My celebrations of Samhain are no less meaningful because many of them have been on Nov. 2 and Oct. 28. (And if trick or treat activities were moved I’d be better able to celebrate Samhain on Samhain!)

Early 20th Century Halloween Postcard. Public Domain image.

Holidays Are About When YOU Celebrate Them

No one can change the date of Halloween. October 31 will always be Halloween, and most of what you do that night would still continue if trick or treating were moved to the Saturday before. There would still be pumpkins aglow on many porches, and people would still most likely lightly vandalize homes and apartment buildings. My guess is that a whole lot of people would stay inside and tell ghost stories and find new ways to celebrate the holiday.

Most holidays are a season anyways, and Halloween has always been that way. The month of October is filled with harvest-related fun for many of us, along with parties, scary movies, and tricks or treats. It’s more than just a four hour marathon of candy on the last day of October.

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