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home : community : community January 23, 2019

10/28/2018 12:09:00 PM
Move Halloween To Saturday?

Wayne Howard
Staff Writer

Could this Wednesday be the very last weekday Halloween? A petition started by the Halloween and Costume Association hopes to convince President Trump to move the holiday to Saturday.

They say that moving it would eliminate conflicts with school and traffic problems caused by parents trying to get home early to help with costumes and handing out treats.

The group says (we haven't checked the validity of all the claims):

There are 3,800 Halloween-related injuries each year.

82 percent of parents don’t use high visibility aids on costumes--like reflective tape, glow sticks, finger lights & light up accessories.

63 percent of children don’t carry a flashlight while tick-or-treating. Children are more than twice as likely to be hit by a car and killed on Halloween as on other nights.

65 percent of parents don’t discuss Halloween safety with their children.

70 percent of parents don’t accompany their children trick-or-treating.

51 percent of millennials say Halloween is their favorite holiday.

In this part of the country (more than others) Halloween that falls on Sunday has often been observed on Saturday. Some religious groups and churches object to the concept of Halloween, relating it to witchcraft and magic much more seriously than others. Many churches held Halloween events (often called Trunk or Treat instead of Trick or Treat) over the weekend instead of waiting until Wednesday night. Most of the area night-life spots offered Halloween entertainment Saturday.

Moving Halloween to Saturday is not a new idea. TIME magazine  did a piece on it back in 2016.

President Trump may not have the power on his own to change Halloween to a Saturday observance. Congress moved a number of holidays to Monday observance back in 1971. The President's approval would obviously help the cause, however. Presidents do have the power to declare a one-time national holiday.

Since Halloween isn't observed as an official national (or for that matter, state) holiday, moving the observance might be easier. So much for tradition!

The Irish brought Halloween to America in the early 19th Century, but the history of Halloween (or All Hallows Eve) goes back almost 2,000 years. The Celts, who lived in the area that is now Ireland, the United Kingdom and northern France, celebrated their new year on November 1st.

October 31st marked the end of summer and the harvest and the beginning of dark, cold winter--a time of year often associated with human death. Celts believed that on the night before the new year, the boundary between the worlds of the living and the dead became blurred. On the night of October 31st, it was believed that the ghosts of the dead returned to earth.

As often happens, celebrations that started related to religion often got mixed with folk festivals. The Christmas tree wasn't an important part of the first Christmas and tricking & treating didn't come along until much later.

Immigrants from Ireland and England began celebrating Halloween in the same fashion that had become customary in those countries--dressing in costumes and going house to house to ask for food or money. [That tradition came from All Souls Day, November 1st, when the poor asked for food and were often given 'soul cakes,' pastries shared in exchange for promises to pray for the dead from the giver's family. In the late 1800s, there was a move ot make Halloween into more of a friendly community observance and to downplay ghosts and witchcraft. Around the turn of the century (19th into 20th), parties became commonplace--for both children and adults.

Between 1920 and 1950, the practice of trick-or-treating was revived. Most of the tricks were harmless, but there were some problems with vandalism. Older Lincolntonians will remember when teens and young adults marched up and down Main Street, some in costumes, and wrote on store windows, overturned trash cans, exploded illegal fireworks, etc. Today's observances are much more subdued.

If you'd like to know more about the history of the holiday, you can read it at

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