(Originally posted at ClobberBlog)
A final issue that might crop up for evangelicals over Halloween is the fact that Halloween falls on a Sunday this year. This happens once every five or six years unless leap year causes Halloween to miss the Sabbath—so for those who are counting, Halloween is not going to fall on a Sunday again until the year 2021. Rosalynde Welch had an excellent post on this topic a few weeks ago over at the LDS-themed blog Times & Seasons. Basically, one can make a really good Sabbatarian argument that Halloween should not be celebrated in the traditional manner if it falls on the Sabbath; it should either be celebrated on Saturday the 30th or skipped altogether. One can also make a really good communitarian argument that the Sabbath should be a day of building trust and friendship with others, and Sabbath-day Trick-or-Treating can be a great way of building those ties and fellowshipping.
Some people get to avoid the question altogether because their local city councils and townships move local Trick-or-Treating hours to Saturday anyways. This was the case when I was living in Provo in 2004, the last time Halloween fell on a Sunday. However, both the TEDS on-campus housing administration and the Bannockburn township have set 2010 Trick-or-Treating hours on Sunday the 31st, so it’s a question we’ve had to face. I have mixed feelings on the matter, but ultimately I’ve come down on the side of taking Harley out Trick-or-Treating on Sunday.
My decision has been more utilitarian than theological. In my heart I’ve always been more of a Sabbatarian. I don’t have a rigid set of rules for Sabbath-day observance, but I do feel that the Sabbath should not feel like “just another Saturday.” We try to avoid buying things on Sundays and we generally only go out for church-related activities. I’m fine with doing reading homework since I usually find my class reading enjoyable, but I don’t work on papers and other class projects unless they’re theological and I’m doing them because I feel like God is teaching me something through them. I prefer not to work on Sundays, though we aren’t rigid enough to tell prospective employers that we refuse to work on Sundays. I’ve been exercising every day of the week for the last 17 days (*flex*), but on Sundays I just do a light stretching routine. Finally, we save the more “worldly” forms of entertainment for another day of the week. Dexter airs on Sunday nights, but I always wait until Monday mornings to catch up on it.
So, in my heart, I would prefer to not celebrate Halloween on a Sunday. Why do it then?
Like I said, utility. We feel pretty strongly that our daughter should get to celebrate Halloween, because this is part of her childhood and every year is a memory in the making. Neither my church nor P.’s ward held a formal Halloween event that the kids could wear costumes to on the Saturday before Halloween. Someone in my husband’s ward apparently held an informal Trunk-or-Treat, but I had a hard time tracking down the information concerning the place and time of this informal event, so we were not able to go. Since we live on the campus of an evangelical seminary, Trick-or-Treating is not going to involve much work. We’re just going to slip Harley into her Tinkerbell costume and walk to the other on-campus family apartments that are choosing to celebrate Halloween.
Even if we weren’t Trick-or-Treating on Sunday, we would definitely still be handing out candy.
Anyways, that is what we decided to do this year. Perhaps we’ll decide differently when Sabbath-day Halloween comes again in 2021.
Have a Happy Reformation Day and a fantastic Halloween, too!
UPDATE (10-31-2010): Yup. This was definitely the right decision. I’d post pics of Harley running around with other kids and how happy they all looked, but I don’t know how their parents would feel about that, so here’s Harley: