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Happy Hallowed Thing

An odd thing—a fellow who is Not From These Parts came by the desk yesterday in the library that employs me and asked When is Hallowe’en, anyway? It turned out that he was confused because he had seen kids trick-or-treating last weekend. Which, of course, he had; the town merchants organization set up trick-or-treating for Saturday morning. Heck, I took my children trick-or-treating two weeks ago at the Ren Faire, which had its Hallowe’en on the last weekend it was open, whatever the calendar said. And actual Hallowe’en is tonight, and then there will be more parties over the weekend, because college campus is why.

And I was thinking, that must be confusing for someone who comes to America perhaps never having heard of the holiday, finds out that it’s the last day of October, the cross-quarter day and part of the observance of All Souls on November 1, and then, and then, people are wandering around in costumes the week before.

Is it strange to have a holiday celebrated when it’s convenient? I don’t mean the Columbus Day thing, when the actual holiday is moved to a convenient Monday, but where everyone agrees that the holiday is on Thursday but we’re going to actually hold the traditional celebrations on Saturday. It seems strange to me. And also totally normal. It seemed totally normal until somebody found it strange, and then it seemed totally strange.

I don’t, by the way, mean the season stuff, where people listen to Christmas Carols for the whole Advent period, or longer. That’s perfectly normal: there’s stuff that you do during the preparation for a holiday, some of which you still do on the holiday itself. Decorations go up early, or not, depending on the tastes of the household. The stories are told, or the books are read, or the songs are sung, or the foods are eaten, all to get you in the mood. That’s part of any holiday, I would think. But there’s a part of the holiday that is observed on the holiday itself and only on that holiday, which is the meaning of the day. Or if your household has to compromise on that, it’s because of some logistical unpleasantness that requires the Thanksgiving Dinner to be eaten on Friday, or the presents to actually be exchanged on the 27th. But that’s a household thing, and the source of either tension or jokes (or more likely both) rather than an organized event by the town.

There are lots of reasons for early trick-or-treating, I know. It’s a great idea. I support it. Awesome! Early trick-or-treating! Whoo hoo!

I’m just saying… if you were from Turkey or Nepal or Bolivia… and you were trying to acculturate yourself to this very, very strange holiday… ah, never mind. Snickers!

Tolerabimus quod tolerare debemus,


Birthdays in general seem like a kind of thing where you often know what day the actual important day is, but then you have a party on some other nearby convenient day. So the idea of Halloween parties that aren't on Halloween doesn't seem all that strange to me; the idea of trick-or-treat-ing on nights that aren't Halloween does.

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