By Emma Reilly
Though some Halloween traditions are geared toward children, the holiday is widely celebrated by people of all ages.
According to Quartz, cities like Chesapeake, Va. and Boonsboro, Md. passed laws banning anyone over the age of 12 from trick-or-treating. Such policies orient the holiday around children’s experiences, but they don’t stop teenagers and adults from donning costumes and having an enjoyable time on Halloween night, too.
College students are no exception: in the days – and even weeks – leading up to Halloween, Washington College’s campus is graced by its students’ costume-making creativity. Halloween-themed events are hosted by student organizations, Student Events Board, and honor societies. Friends spend time together carving pumpkins, visiting corn mazes, attending local haunts, and hosting spooky parties.
According to the The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research at the University of Chicago, 76% of American adults celebrated Halloween in some fashion in 2019.
With the holiday so widely celebrated, it is surprising that it takes place on Oct. 31 annually. Unlike Thanksgiving, which takes place on a different date each year and is always celebrated on the fourth Thursday in November, Halloween takes place on a fixed date.
This year Halloween falls on a Monday, which presents challenges to parents, kids, and college students alike.
Elementary school classrooms will surely be disrupted by anticipatory overexcitement on Monday. Kids up late walking from door to door and munching on sweets Halloween night are likely exhausted the next day at school, too.
Parents who spend the evening herding their young ones around town will be equally as tired heading into work Tuesday morning.
Similarly, Halloween being on a Monday night causes college students to choose between papers and parties, forcing some to miss out on the festivities and leaving others wholly unprepared to face a 9 a.m. class the following morning.
So why is Halloween celebrated on a day that, more years than not, is inconvenient?
Christians arriving in Britain in the eleventh century recognized that incorporating long-standing pagan traditions into Christian celebrations would be an effective means of converting followers in Celtic regions, according to Master Lecturer of Rhetoric Regina Hansen at Boston University.
“It just so happened that Nov. 1 is the Christian Feast of All Saints and the next day is All Souls’ Day. Oct. 31 became the Eve of All Saints, or All Hallows’ Eve. So the modern practice of Halloween incorporates Christianity and pagan rituals,” Hansen said in a Q&A with BU Today.
The cultural and religious contexts that shaped Halloween celebrations before the influence of American commercialization are now entering modern consciousnesses.
“There are certain groups in Christianity that embrace Halloween exactly for what it is – this combination of what came before we incorporated the holiday into our American culture,” Hansen said.
As people begin to focus more on the pagan traditions Halloween celebrations originated from, perhaps it is time to shed the date imposed by Christians in the 1000s.
Many people choose to celebrate Halloween on the weekend regardless of when the thirty-first falls, so fixing Halloween on a Friday or Saturday would be a logical shift. Making the holiday a weekend event would make its celebrations – and its aftermath – all the more enjoyable.
Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.
Making Halloween a weekend event will give parents and kids plenty of time to trick-or-treat without worrying about school or work the next day.