Halloween is officially celebrated on Oct. 31. Or is it?

This year, the devilish holiday falls on a Sunday, a religious day for some, and in some communities, the two occasions just don't mix. So some towns have pushed Halloween festivities to the day before, Oct. 30.

That's what's happening in my town in Luray, Va. We're a small community, so word spread pretty quickly as soon as one person saw the notice posted at the local fire hall, but the town also took up space in the weekly newspaper to make sure people were informed of the change. This year, everything Halloween-related, from the town's Halloween festival to evening trick-or-treating, will be held on Saturday, Oct. 30.

But just a few miles away in Charlottesville, Va., the local government says it's up to the parents to decide when their kids should celebrate. So some folks will choose to go out on Saturday for religious reasons while others will observe tradition and go out on Sunday. 

Not everyone sees the need to "move" Halloween. Jennifer Smith from Eco Office Gals recently found out that her South Carolina town would be changing the date of the holiday. "Halloween is not a church holiday. Best I can tell, there's nothing in the Bible that says you can't have Halloween on Sunday and I personally don't like the church dictating me any more then I like government doing it," she said.

Smith isn't the only one who is upset by the switch. In one small town in Louisiana, the American Civil Liberties Union is stepping in, encouraging residents to ignore the town's official ruling to move Halloween from Sunday to Saturday. “Halloween is a part of a long religious tradition, both Celtic and Christian,” the ACLU stated in a letter to the town's council. “Linked with the Nov. 1 commemoration of All Saints Day, it is a reflection of a religious respect for the dead. For many, the date of Halloween cannot be altered any more than can the date of Christmas, because it is a religious event.”

The letter goes on to say that the U.S. and Louisiana constitutions prohibit governmental interference in the free exercise of religion, “and that includes regulating the date on which a religious event is commemorated.”

So they are actually arguing that Halloween itself is a "religious" holiday and should receive the same protections as other holidays celebrated for religious reasons.

Under normal circumstances, I would agree with Smith 100 percent, but I actually find this whole switcharoo amusing, and even a little convenient. For one thing, I don't have to worry about my kids staying up late on a school night. They can trick-or-treat to their hearts' content and still have a day to recover. And there's another reason I don't really mind the switch. Did I mention that my eldest daughter's birthday is Oct. 30?  She thinks the town changed the date of trick-or-treating just for her and is looking forward to scoring some extra candy by casually dropping the birthday reference along the way.

Has your town experienced the Great Halloween Switcharoo this year?

MNN homepage photo: snapphoto/iStockphoto

The Great Halloween Switcharoo
Some communities have changed the date of Halloween this year so it won't conflict with religious celebrations on Sunday.