Saturday Halloween – Top 3 Pros and Cons

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Halloween takes place on Oct. 31 regardless of the day of the week. In 2020, Halloween falls on a Saturday, though the COVID-19 (coronavirus) pandemic has led many jurisdictions to adapt or cancel traditional activities. [33]

According to tradition, children in the United States dress up in costumes and go door-to-door in their neighborhoods saying “trick or treat” to receive candy.

Some would like to see Halloween held on a Saturday every year for safety reasons, and have petitioned President Trump via change.org. [1][2] However, others point out that the federal government doesn’t have the ability to make that change because Halloween isn’t a federal holiday. [3]

About 172 million Americans celebrated Halloween in 2019. The top costumes for kids were princess, superhero, Batman, a Star Wars character, and a witch. Almost 17% of Americans buy costumes for their pets, with the top choices being pumpkins, hot dogs, and bumblebees. Americans spent an estimated $8.8 billion, or $86.27 per person, in 2019 on Halloween goods such as candy to hand out, decorations, costumes, and pumpkins. [34]

Should Halloween Be Moved Permanently to Saturday?

Pro 1

Celebrating Halloween on a Saturday would make the holiday safer for children.

A study found an 83% increase in fatal crashes involving children and a 55% increase in pedestrian fatal crashes when Halloween falls on a weeknight. [6] There’s been an increase of at least 21 fatal crashes every time the holiday fell on a Friday since 1994. [6] Safe Kids Worldwide stated, “Twice as many kids are killed while walking on Halloween than any other day of the year.” [7]

82% of parents don’t add high visibility aids such as reflective tape or glow sticks to their kids’ costumes, and 63% of trick-or-treaters don’t carry flashlights, according to the Halloween & Costume Association, an organization that created a petition to move Halloween to Saturdays signed by over 150,000 people. [8]

Moving Halloween to a Saturday would allow trick-or-treating to begin in the daylight hours, reducing risk of fatal crashes and eliminating the need for costume safety alterations and flashlights. [9] The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said fatal crashes can occur on Halloween when trick-or-treaters dart out into the street unexpectedly. [10] Communities could create safer walking conditions on a Saturday Halloween by blocking off selected roads, which wouldn’t be practical on weeknights when people are returning home from work. [11]

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Pro 2

Celebrating Halloween on a Saturday would be more fun and less stressful for everyone.

Instead of rushing home from school and work to fit in dinner and homework before setting out for trick-or-treating, kids and parents could enjoy the day and do more fun Halloween activities together on a Saturday. [12] Entrepreneur Matt Douglas noted, “Extended family could gather like they do for other major holidays and special memories can be made.” [11]

With a Saturday Halloween, people who work the traditional Monday-Friday schedule wouldn’t miss out on the fun of handing out candy to kids in the neighborhood. The holiday would be less stressful because parents wouldn’t have to worry about kids staying up past their bedtimes on a sugar high. [11] Plus, businesses wouldn’t lose the productivity of hungover workers who attended Halloween parties. [13]

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Pro 3

A Saturday Halloween would minimize the holiday's negative impact on schools and learning.

When Halloween falls on a weekday, students are too distracted to learn. [11] Halloween parties and parades at school exclude kids whose cultures don’t celebrate or whose parents can’t afford nice costumes. [14]

School day Halloween celebrations, which may have sweet treats and loud music, raise potential issues for students with serious food allergies, kids on the autism spectrum, and those with anxiety. [15][16] Students and even teachers sometimes cause disruptions by wearing costumes that are inappropriate, racist, or just plain too scary. [17][18][19]

Teachers also struggle to keep students focused the day after Halloween, when they have to wrangle tired and cranky kids. [11] Retired teacher Cookie Knisbaum stated that kids are “going to be hyped-up from the day before, and they’re going to try to bring their candy with them.” [20] Moving Halloween to a Saturday would get the holiday out of the classroom and allow families to decide if and how they want to celebrate.

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Con 1

Moving Halloween to Saturday would put kids on the streets on the most dangerous night of the week.

Halloween is already a dangerous holiday, with about 43% more pedestrians dying on the holiday than other autumn nights. [21] Moving the holiday to Saturdays, the most dangerous day of the week, could further increase injuries and deaths because people would start drinking alcohol earlier in the day, and consume more overall than they would on a weeknight.

Drunk drivers are already involved in more than 25% of pedestrian deaths on Halloween. [22] Ensuring that Halloween always occurs on a weekend night would lead to more binge drinking and drunk driving, making pedestrians less safe. [22]

Drivers ages 15 to 25 are responsible for nearly a third of all child pedestrian fatal accidents on Halloween. Moving the holiday to the weekend every year would likely increase the fatalities because of later curfews and a lack of school and other responsibilities the following day. [23]

Saturdays have the most fatal car crashes of any day, with a total of 5,873 during 2017 (over 500 more than the second-highest crash day). [24][25] In 2017, there were an additional 799,000 nonfatal traffic accidents on Saturdays. [24] 53% more road deaths occur on Saturdays than on Tuesdays, the safest day of the week. [26]

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Con 2

Moving Halloween would ignore the holiday's ancient and religious traditions.

The origins of Halloween have religious and cultural importance, tracing back 2,000 years to the pagan festival Samhain (pronounced “sow-in”), in which the ancient Celts celebrated the end of summer from sunset on Oct. 31 to sunset on Nov. 1. [27][28] They believed that the ghosts of the dead returned to earth, blurring the boundary between the living and dead. Around 43 AD, the Romans, who were then ruling the Celtic territory, combined their Feralia festival honoring the dead with the Samhain activities. [27]

The Catholic church has observed All Saints’ Day (also known as All Hallows or Hallowmas) on Nov. 1 since the mid-eighth century. Halloween, originally “All Hallows’ Eve” or “Vigil or Eve of All Hallows” therefore takes place the day before, on Oct. 31. [27][29]

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Con 3

Moving Halloween to Saturday would allow kids more time to be mischievous.

Halloween has historically always been a night of pranks. Celebrations in Colonial America included “mischief-making of all kinds,” according to History.com. [27] These days, kids might toss toilet paper in trees, jump out to scare people, or drink while underage. [30]

Amarjeet Sidhu, a seventh grader at the time of this quote, stated, “I think that Halloween should always be celebrated on the 31st. If it is celebrated on Saturdays, kids would go out late at night and put graffiti on signs, smash pumpkins and egg houses. I know this from experience. It won’t feel right if Halloween is not on Oct. 31.” [31]

Many kids don’t realize that pranks they think of as harmless could actually get them arrested for vandalism or assault. [30] Some less serious pranks are still subject to community service or monetary penalties. [32] When Halloween is on a Saturday, kids are able to stay out later causing trouble. If Halloween were always on a Saturday, they could get into the annual habit of coming up with dangerous pranks.

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Discussion Questions

  1. Should Halloween be moved to Saturday? Why or why not?
  2. Would moving Halloween to Saturday make the holiday safer or more unsafe? Explain your answer.
  3. Would moving Halloween to Saturday be disrespectful? Why or why not?

Lesson Plan

Have students identify an appropriate local official and write a letter to them arguing to move Halloween to Saturday or to leave Halloween on the 31st.

Click for an Encyclopaedia Britannica video about how pumpkin carving came to be a Halloween tradition forged by Celtic and Roman Catholic roots

Sources:

1.Koren Young, "Move Halloween to the Last Saturday in October," change.org (accessed Oct. 14, 2019)
2.Mark Cohen, "Move Halloween to the Last Saturday in October by Act of Congress," change.org (accessed Oct. 14, 2019)
3.Emily Bicks, "Petition to Change Halloween to Saturday Is Sadly, Unrealistic," heavy.com, July 26, 2019
4.CNN Library, "Halloween Fast Facts," cnn.com, Nov. 5, 2018
5.Esther Trattner, "This Is What Halloween Can Cost You This Year, and It’s Scary," moneywise.com, Oct. 12, 2019
6.Autoinsurance.org, "10 Reasons Halloween Should Be Moved to Saturday [24 Years of Proof]," autoinsurance.org (accessed Oct. 14, 2019)
7.Safe.org, "Be Safe, Be Seen on Halloween," safekids.org (access Oct. 14, 2019)
8.Halloween & Costume Association, "Join the Saturday Celebration," change.org (accessed Oct. 14, 2019)
9.Sabrina Rojas Weiss, "There's a Petition to Move Halloween to Saturdays--But Would It Really Make It Safer for Kids?," mother.ly, July 26, 2019
10.National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, "Safety In Numbers Newsletter: Halloween Pedestrian Safety," nhtsa.gov, Oct. 2014
11.Matt Douglas, "Here's Why Halloween Should Be Moved to the Last Saturday of October," redtri.com, Oct. 25, 2018
12.Caroline Picard, "There's a Petition Going around to Move Halloween to the Last Saturday in October," goodhousekeeping.com, Oct. 24, 2018
13.Gillian B. White, "Hangovers: They're Costing the U.S. Economy," theatlantic.com, Oct. 17, 2015
14.Evanston/Skokie School District 65 Senior Leadership Team, "A Message Regarding Halloween Celebrations," district65.net, Sep. 27, 2019
15.Autism-Products.com, "Halloween Can Be Tricky for Kids on the Autism Spectrum," autism-products.com (accessed Oct. 22, 2019)
16.Amanda M. Dettmer, "It's Everyone's Halloween," medicine.yale.edu, Oct. 31, 2018
17.Associated Press, "Idaho School District Apologizes after Teachers Dress up as Border Wall, Caricatures of Mexicans for Halloween," abc7.com, Nov. 2, 2018
18.Bringmethenews, "Racist Halloween Costumes Condemned by Rochester School Officials," bringmethenews.com, Nov. 1, 2018
19.Azure Hall, "Some Elementary Schools Aren't Letting Students Wear Halloween Costumes & People Have Feelings About It," romper.com, Oct. 30, 2017
20.Shana Aborn, "9 Things about School Halloween Parties Teachers Want You to Know," romper.com, Oct. 3, 2018
21.Rachel Becker, "Halloween Is a Scary Night to Be a Pedestrian," theverge.com, Oct. 30, 2018
22.Alison Betts, "Saturday Halloween Escalates Dangerous Drinking Trends," scramsystems.com, Oct. 28, 2015
23.Bert Sperling and Piper Smith, "Halloween is ‘Deadliest Day’ Of The Year For Child Pedestrian Fatalities," bestplaces.net (accessed Oct. 22, 2019)
24.National Safety Council Injury Facts, "Crashes by Time of Day and Day of Week," injuryfacts.nsc.org (accessed Oct. 10, 2019)
25.Avvo, "Average Day of Accidents in America," avvo.com (accessed Oct. 10, 2019)
26.David Carrig, "Saturday Is Most Dangerous Day of the Week to Drive; Afternoon Rush Hour Worse Than Morning," usatoday.com, May 26, 2018
27.History.com Editors, "Halloween 2019," history.com, Oct. 9, 2019
28.abravefaith, "Halloween – Summer's End, a Feast for Remembering," abravefaith.com, Oct. 31, 2015
29.Catholic Online, "All Saints' Day," catholic.org (accessed Oct. 23, 2019)
30.Deanne Katz, "Halloween Pranks That Will Get You Arrested," findlaw.com, Oct. 30, 2012
31.The Baltimore Sun, "Should Halloween Be on Last Saturday?," baltimoresun.com, Nov. 3, 1999
32.Edward R. Molari, "Halloween Pranks and Crimes," molarilaw.com (accessed 23, 2019)
33. Sarah Moon, "LA County Bans Trick-or-Treating Due to Coronavirus," cnn.com, Sep. 8, 2020
34.Kimberly Amadeo, "Halloween Spending, Facts, and Trends," thebalance.com, May 7, 2020