We're Moving Thanksgiving and Halloween
(There’s currently a movement underway to adjust where Halloween falls on the calendar. I think it’s a good idea - but they got the details wrong, I believe. So I’m resurrecting this post from two years ago to set the story straight. This is how we should change things.)
I like Christmas, but I love Thanksgiving. It’s got everything you want in a holiday: time off from work, a chance to hang with family and friends, a little bit of football, and the best food of all time. On top of that, while it might inject a little bit of stress, it doesn’t come close to the crushing pressures we associate with Christmas.
The only problem is that Thanksgiving comes at the wrong time. Let’s move it from late November to the fourth Thursday of October. Here’s why:
Right now it’s bunched up against Christmas; we barely have time to digest the stuffing and pumpkin pie before we’re making plans to have the family back over again. Arguably the two most-popular, most-involved holidays of the year, and they’re thirty days apart? At the very least let’s add a buffer month.
(Side note: I try to host what I call “Maysgiving” every late May. The Thanksgiving meal is probably the greatest meal you’ll have all year - and yet we only do it once a year? Silly. So I schedule another one halfway around the calendar. The guests I’ve had over have yet to complain.)
Much as you might want to discount it, weather is a huge factor. Thanksgiving creates travel plans, with more than 40 million Americans either on the road or in the air. Nothing snarls family plans more around the holidays than Mother Nature. We can tolerate it at Christmas because . . . well, there’s that whole White Christmas thing that gets us all emotional. Yet no one ever - ever - got sentimental over a blizzard at Thanksgiving. No, we get pissed.
Yes, it’s possible for it to snow at the end of October, and sometimes it does. But rarely are there October snows like there are late-November snows. Have YOU ever been stranded in an airport for 14 hours during a snowstorm? I have. And it was at Thanksgiving, not the end of October.
We want to gather with friends and family for turkey and such, but we also love the idea of going outside and tossing the football around. Late October is glorious; late November is bordering on SAD season.
(If you wanna get specific, the average Denver temp for the end of November is 48 degrees. Late October? It’s almost 60. Chew on that for a moment when you think about catching a pass.)
Plus, with the time change not happening these days until early November, it’s still lighter a little later in October to accommodate those who have to drive over to in-laws, etc. People in blended families will appreciate this.
So, breathing room between two major holidays, warmer weather, far less likely to have a “snow event,” easier travel, and it stays lighter later. Who can argue with any of that?
Of course, since we’re moving Thanksgiving to October, Halloween will have to adjust. It can now take place annually on the last Friday of September, which is much better for the little tykes gathering candy.
Consider this: While, as stated, it doesn’t snow often at Halloween, it can happen. And while it’s rarely a blizzard, it can get nippy when the sun goes down. That means little Ella, who’s dressed as a princess to go trick-or-treating, is putting a coat over the costume that Mom or Dad worked so hard to get perfect.
Yes, not as many kids go door-to-door these days - but is it possible that the weather has something to do with that? If it’s a gorgeous fall evening, wouldn’t we be more likely to get out and enjoy the walk?
Obviously, if you live in Florida or Southern California this means zilch to you. But for those of us who actually experience four seasons, this is relevant.
I live in Denver, so I’ll include that data, but I’ll also use New York and Chicago, too. That’s three time zones.
Here are the average temperature differences between late September and late October for all three metropolitan areas:
Denver: Afternoon of September 30 - 71 degrees
Afternoon of October 31 - 59 degrees
New York: Afternoon of September 30 - 69 degrees
Afternoon of October 31 - 59 degrees
Chicago: Afternoon of September 30 - 69 degrees
Afternoons of October 31 - 57 degrees
(Source: AccuWeather stats)
That’s a 10-12 degree difference. Not huge, you say? No, but in the evenings, how many times has a ten-degree difference felt like twenty, especially when it’s dark?
Then there’s the chance of snow. October is not a big month for snow - here in Denver we have measurable snow on Halloween about once every seven years. Late September, on the other hand, rarely sees any snow at all. You’re more likely to see an 80-degree day than a 30-degree day.
And, for the record, the last time it snowed in Denver in September was in 2000, and that was less than a quarter of an inch. Suffice to say, the princesses will rarely, if ever, be bundled up. Here are some more stats (I do my homework):
Denver: Inches of snow in October: 4
Inches of snow in September: 1.3
New York: Inches of snow in October: 0.3
Inches of snow in September: 0.0
Chicago: Inches of snow in October: 0.3
Inches of snow in September: 0.0
Here comes that darkness element again. You don’t want your little ghosts and goblins out in bright sunshine; that’s just not in the spirit (pun intended). But it’s nice to hang on to a touch of light for at least the beginning of their rounds. Does one month make much of a difference? Yeah, in some cases close to an hour, but at the least 45 minutes.
Sunset in Denver on October 31st is 5:58 - when some people are just getting home from work. Halloween on the last Friday of September would mean daylight lasting until as late as 6:53 in some years.
You can get home, get everybody fed, into costume, and out the door at the peak of twilight. Nobody’s rushed, and kids are safer. How can you argue with that?
It only makes sense to move Halloween to the last Friday in September: no school the next day, parents can stay out late, schools can plan appropriately, but it doesn’t need to be a day off. So having a holiday at the beginning of the month (Labor Day) isn’t a problem; nobody will miss school or work for Halloween.
Besides, as we know the holiday these days, Halloween on a Wednesday (like this year) is the worst. I’d go so far as to say it’s dumb.
You can tell I’ve given this a lot of thought. That means I’ve also anticipated the arguments I’m sure to get, such as:
“You can’t move Halloween because of the connection with All Saints Day and All Hallows Eve the night before.”
Yes, we can. There are some people who equate Halloween with the Celtic festival of Samhain - and yet most people have never heard of that. They know Halloween as dressing up as slutty nurses and giving out candy to kids. Let’s not kid ourselves that the vast majority of Americans take a quiet moment to honor Samhain. No, they don’t. And if Pope Gregory III could randomly select November 1st as the day to honor saints and martyrs, we can just as randomly select the last Friday of September. Ol’ Greg never had to bundle up kids and take them door to door, or to a school carnival. Besides, the saints and martyrs will be just as honored whenever we choose, right?
“You can’t get good pumpkins in late September.”
Yes, we can. I was at the grocery store in mid-September and the front of the store was a virtual minefields of pumpkins.
“But we’ve always done it the way it is.”
No, we haven’t. Historians tell us that the earliest Thanksgiving likely fell sometime between late-September and early-November. That puts the third or fourth Thursday in October right in the bullseye.
Remember, Christmas originated as a way to honor the birth of Jesus, and yet the majority of experts say there’s no way - according to all the correlating information - he could’ve been born in late-December. We move dates all the time. Hell, the Super Bowl used to be in mid-January, and it’s now almost a month later. If we can move the freakin’ Super Bowl, we can move Halloween.
And, honestly, if you’re someone who argues by saying “We’ve always done it this way,” then you have bigger problems. Have you ever stopped to consider that you might LOVE having Thanksgiving in October when it’s ten degrees warmer and you aren’t shoveling snow so Uncle Doug can park in your driveway?
“You’re only going to move Christmas shopping up another month, and it’s already too long.”
Dude. Have you seen the stores in September? There are Christmas decorations out and “holiday sales” already beginning. Moving Thanksgiving to late-October won’t rush anything. Stores have been capitalizing on four months of Christmas shopping for decades. Some ridiculous radio stations around the country start playing Christmas music in early November. EARLY NOVEMBER!
If anything, this adds a much-needed breather between holidays and could actually cause some people to wait a bit longer before going crazy. They won’t feel that late-November pressure.
“We like the tradition of football on Thanksgiving.”
You can have football on Thanksgiving in October. Maybe you didn’t notice, but there are now football games on EVERY Thursday. Uh-huh.
There you go. We’re moving up Thanksgiving and Halloween for practical, common-sense reasons. Pass the word.
Then pass the pie.
Turkey pic courtesy of Mikkel Bergmann on Unsplash
Airplane photo courtesy Gabriele Ibba on Unsplash
Trick or treat image courtesy of rawpixel on Unsplash
Blizzard pic courtesy of Jeffrey Blum on Unsplash
Girl ghoul image courtesy of Edgar Perez on Unsplash
Pumpkins photo courtesy of Jonathan Talbert on Unsplash
Football image courtesy of Ben Hershey on Unsplash