While moving a holiday might sound extreme, there are some good reasons for—and against—such a change.
It is so inconvenient when Halloween falls on a weekday, especially for parents. We have enough on our plates without having to do all that decorating, costuming and candy distributing on a school night.
There's now a movement gaining buzz that wants to change the date of Halloween—officially and permanently—so that it will always be on the last Saturday of October, not just for the sake of our burdened schedules, but for safety.
"It's time for a Safer, Longer, Stress-Free Celebration!" says the Change.org petition that trade group "the Halloween and Costume Association" launched last year. It cites statistics as a rationale for changing the date, including the fact that there are reportedly 3,800 Halloween-related injuries each year, but 82% of parents don't give their kids "high visibility aids" for trick-or-treating and 70% don't accompany their kids as they gallivant through the streets demanding candy. (Note: They don't name the source of those stats.)
Through some trick of internet algorithms and/or clever publicity, the petition has regained national attention this summer, and it's received almost 76,000 signatures as of this writing. At 150,000 signatures, the organizer says it will send the petition to President Trump.
While moving a holiday might sound extreme, there are some good reasons for such a change:
- Yes, twice as many children are killed while walking on Halloween than on any other day of the year. The petition assumes that with Halloween on a Saturday, parents would be more available to go trick-or-treating with their kids earlier in the evening.
- Parents and schools wouldn't have to face the dilemma of whether to let kids wear costumes to school.
- Parents wouldn't have to rush home from work before dark to get out the candy and go trick-or-treating.
- Kids wouldn't have to show up at school the next day with candy hangovers.
- Elvira is onboard.
But here are some reasons we're not so sure about this petition:
1. We're not sure the motives of the HCA, made up of costume and decorations manufacturers, importers and distributors, are pure. They're gathering a whole lot of potential customers' emails through that site, after all.
2. This is messing with a tradition that goes back millennia to the Celts. They originally established the holiday of Samhain to mark the end of the summer and the beginning of their new year. (Then again, the Roman conquerors and a couple of popes already did mess with the date a few times, so what's one more arbitrary change?)
3. Halloween isn't a federal holiday, so we're not sure what petitioning Trump would do.
4. Also, there's no actual evidence that moving the holiday to a Saturday would be safer. According to the National Safety Council, Saturday night is the most dangerous time of the week, with hundreds more pedestrian fatalities than on weeknights.
A better bet might be for all parents to follow the safety guidelines set out by the American Academy of Pediatrics, including traveling in groups, using flashlights and reflective tape, and staying on well-lit streets with sidewalks. Now, it's just July, so we hope someone refreshes this campaign one more time by October, just so we can be reminded of those tips one more time.