Back when I was a kid, there was nothing quite like the anticipation of waiting for the door to open on Halloween night. I vividly remember those nights where I was a fairy, a witch, a princess – in one memorable year, Batman – and the way I would be practically bouncing up and down ready to say “Trick-or-Treat.”
But then, I also remember the sense of unease that would grow as the seconds stretched after I rang the doorbell and the disappointment that hit as I realized nobody was coming. Those moments were inevitable almost every year, but they tended to happen most often on weeknight Halloweens.
On weeknight Halloweens, it felt like it had scarcely grown dark, and my basket was only half-full of candy before people started turning off their lights and ignoring the ring of the doorbell. Even in the previous hours trick-or-treating, the atmosphere would be muted, with fewer people on the streets and in costume. At the end of the night, I would return home with slumped shoulders, wondering what I had been so excited for and wishing that Halloween had been on a weekend.
As it turns out, I am not the only one to feel that way. According to CNN, a petition launched by the Halloween & Costume Association last year argues that moving the date of Halloween from October 31st to the last Saturday of the month will lead to a “safer, longer, stress-free celebration.” As of Wednesday, this petition has 154,978 signatures.
Based on my experiences as a child going trick-or-treating and as an adult on the other side of the door, I support this initiative. Having Halloween on a Saturday night would lead to a better experience for all those who participate in the holiday.
The Halloween experience begins with parents and adults, and for them, having a weeknight holiday can be taxing. Speaking as someone who will be passing out candy this Thursday, at times weeknight Halloweens feels less like a celebration and more like a burden.
On Thursday, I will be arriving home after a full day’s worth of classes and work. I will have about 100 slides of a genetics slideshow I need to study and memorize, not to mention an essay to complete – in Spanish. Can you understand why I might not exactly be in the Halloween spirit?
This situation does not just apply to me; it applies to many individuals coming home from a hard days’ work. Our doors will be closed and our lights will be turned off relatively early, not because we do not wish to create the best Halloween experience possible but because of our schedule.
Furthermore, kids are perceptive. Even when people in this situation are passing out candy, I am sure some kids will be able to pick up the undercurrent of stress in their voices. With a night full of busy, stressed individuals, I would not be surprised to see more than one child return home disappointed the same way I did as a kid.
Compare this to a Saturday night Halloween. As a kid, I remember those nights as being magical. Rather than a sad shuffle from one dark house to another, it felt like I was in a neighborhood-wide block party. The houses would be blazing with lights long into the night, and costumed kids and parents would be swarming the streets.
Why wouldn’t we want every Halloween to feel this way?
Without the weight of 7 a.m. wake-up times on our shoulders, and the exhaustion that comes from a long day’s work, adults could work to ensure the best Halloween experience every year, not just when the calendar works in our favor.
Despite these obvious benefits of moving the holiday, part of me comprehends why some are reluctant to do so. Halloween has a rich history that can be traced back to “All Hallows-Eve,” which was celebrated as far back as the Roman empire, according to history.com. Straying from this history feels wrong, especially when we are just doing so for our personal convenience.
Yet, we have to acknowledge that we have already strayed far from the holiday’s origins. While “All Hallows-Eve” was part of a religious celebration honoring the dead, today the holiday is secular and primarily focused on candy and costumes. The Halloween that we celebrate today is unrecognizable compared to “All Hallows-Eve.” So, we should we cling to the notion that we must celebrate on Oct. 31st instead of the last Saturday of the month?
We have shaped Halloween into the holiday it is today, and we will shape it into the holiday it is in the future. We can leave it as it is today – a holiday that often feels more like a burden than a celebration – or we can work to ensure that Halloween reaches its full potential every year.
I can promise you that come Thursday night, more than one kid will be wondering the same thing.