Over the summer, a controversial petition made its way around the internet looking for support in changing the date of Halloween from October 31st to the last Saturday in October. The request (which has since evolved into a campaign to create a National Trick-or-Treat Day instead) was heavily debated over the internet with both die-hard fans in support of the move and angry protesters who were quick to blame so-called “entitled millennials” for trying to make everything about them and their children.
Many of the voices of support were parents who believed a Saturday Halloween celebration would be safer (trick-or-treating could start earlier and occur during daylight hours) and easier (no more rushing home from work with only enough time for a quick bite to eat before heading out the door for the night). Those who seemed most resistant to the change mainly cited complaints about how they didn’t want a mainstay from their own childhoods moved in the name of convenience.
However, one point that seemed largely left out of both sides of the conversation was the fact that, in a lot of small towns across America, trick-or-treating not on Halloween is already a common practice. In fact, towns like the one my family recently moved to have been doing this for years.
Back before my husband and I moved a few hours north of our hometown located just outside of Philadelphia, I assumed that everyone across the country did trick-or-treating the way we did: rain or shine, and just as darkness fell on October 31st. The thought had never even crossed my mind that in some towns, trick-or-treating on the 31st was an unusual idea.
I found out that we’d moved into such a town on the very day we got there. It was October 30th, and in between signing what felt like hundreds of papers, I was talking with our realtor about our new hometown. I’d just mentioned that I felt bad for the neighborhood trick-or-treater kids who would find our house dark the following night, since we weren’t scheduled to move into our new place for a few more days yet. That’s when she dropped the bomb:
“Don’t worry…your town did trick-or-treating last week.” Huh?
The confusion must have been clear on my face, because she then began to explain how every town in the Lehigh Valley had their trick-or-treating scheduled for a different night of the week. She went on to explain how many times her kids had been trick-or-treating so far this year — between neighboring towns and area events.
At first I was disappointed. I’d never not celebrated Halloween on the 31st before, and the whole concept felt strange and forced. But, as time passed and I began to see all of the potential in what amounted to a week of celebrating, I grew to love the idea.
For instance, our town does trick-or-treating the Friday before Halloween, but the town closest to where my parents live does theirs the Wednesday before. This means my kids get to trick-or-treat on two separate nights, once in our town and then again in Grandma and Grandpa’s. This allows us to extend our Halloween celebrations across multiple days, and include lots of ancillary Halloween events that happen around the staggered trick-or-treating nights. It turns the entire last half of October into some sort of Halloween Bacchanalia, and I, for one, am totally here for it. This year alone, we have my eldest daughter’s school trick-or-treating event, a Halloween parade, trick-or-treating in our neighborhood, and then trick-or-treating up at my parents’.
Having the entire day and night of Halloween open also leaves us free to do whatever we want on the actual 31st. Last year, we spent the day watching spooky movies (Mickey’s Monster Musical, which is basically the Disney version of The Rocky Horror Picture Show, is always on that list), and baking “haunted treats.” It was fun, and best of all, it reminded me a lot of my favorite parts from my own childhood — when we weren’t trying to cram everything into the mad dash of school-homework-dinner-Halloween-bed.
So far, the only downside I’ve seen to the alternative trick-or-treating schedule is the fact that I find myself double-checking that I have each date and time right about a half dozen times over the course of the month of October (thanks, mom brain). Other than that, I don’t see the problem in changing the date for trick-or-treating — unless, of course, that would interfere with your religious practice or related celebration.
Although it initially took me awhile to adjust to the concept of moving the date we go trick-or-treating, I’m now officially on board with the idea. Not only do we get to extend our family’s Halloween celebrations beyond just one night, but I no longer have to worry about the “Halloween hangover” that comes along with my kids staying up too late on a school night — or binging on too much candy. Now, with Friday night trick-or-treating, we have Saturday morning to recover at home as a family.
While the rest of the country may be resistant to the idea of change — and oh-so-quick to blame “self-serving” millennials for, well, everything — I’m here to tell you that in a lot of towns, non-Halloween Halloweening is already the norm. And I think it’s kind of awesome.