TGIF: Halloween tricks a newspaper isn’t allowed to do

Brownwood Bulletin
Gene Deason

When you work for a newspaper as I did for more than 40 years, you field a lot of questions. The internet reduced the frequency of those questions, because people could look up answers for themselves. Social media isn’t always a reliable source, but at least you get an answer — right or wrong.

Reporters sometimes have information people want to know. Things like when is the Cowboys’ game (it’s 7:20 p.m. Sunday), when is election day (it’s Tuesday), or when is Brownwood going to get a Target (not in my lifetime).

One question we heard periodically during my stay at the Bulletin involved the observance of Halloween — mostly during the years when October 31 happened to fall on a Sunday, as it does in 2021.

It came to a head the year someone on the phone asked, “Is the Bulletin going to move Halloween to Saturday?”

The caller didn’t think it was appropriate for children to dress up as witches and goblins and invade their neighborhoods in search of candy on a Sunday night, when they might otherwise be participating in a church service. Frankly, that does seem preferable.

I thought, “If I had it in my power, I’d do it.”

Yes, I liked the idea. Unfortunately, she called the wrong office. Perhaps she ought to try city hall, the county courthouse, or even the governor’s mansion. However, I doubt even the public servants we task with making decisions in the people’s interest would deem themselves powerful enough to change the calendar. After all, Halloween is not a governmental holiday.

The caller’s question is especially pertinent when you research the history of the Halloween. From a religious standpoint, Halloween falls on the day before November 1, which is All Saints’ Day. Sure, many people treat their Sundays like any other day, but please. Even Halloween?

Fortunately for those who agree with that caller, many Halloween activities are voluntarily rescheduled to days other than Sunday, regardless of when Halloween falls. Numerous observances are planned the week before and on the weekend prior to the last day of October in order to ensure better attendance and participation. In many ways, it’s become Halloween Week, rather than Halloween on one hectic October 31 eve.

No newspaper editor has the power to alter the calendar, but if they did, I would go beyond changing the day of Halloween. Opportunities abound, so let’s fix other problems with the calendar. Consider this my “Trick or Treat, Calendar Edition.”

—Easter Sunday shall be standardized on the first Sunday in April. This doesn’t put Easter on the same day every year, but at least it’ll be in the same week.

—Our general elections, including the presidential elections in early November, will be moved to early October. The weather will be better in northern states, and we could really use a major holiday before cold weather arrives. And as a bonus, the campaign season will be a month shorter. Then, let’s make Election Day a federal and state holiday so people don’t have to ask for time off from work to vote.

—Independence Day will become a three-day holiday, from July 2 to July 4. July 2, 1776, was when the important things happened, anyway.

—This “30 days hath September, all the rest I don’t remember” business doesn’t work for me. Let’s give every month 30 days — except January, February, and March which will each have 29 days (but 30 in February in Leap Years). That totals 357 days most years, with eight days remaining at the end of the year. Then, schedule those eight days after December for something new, the “Week of Christmas.” Christmas would have two days dedicated to it. The second day of Christmas Week will be for the religious observance, and the fourth day of Christmas Week will be for the commercial celebration. That keeps the religious Christmas seven days before New Year’s as usual, and it separates the two conflicting ways we observe Christmas. The week between Christmas and New Year’s is like another month, anyway.

—I would like to do something about daylight saving time, but I’m troubled. I like the “extra” daylight in summer, and I like the added hour of sleep when we “fall back” — as we will November 7 — but those can’t happen without enduring that dreadful “spring forward.” No one has a good solution; otherwise, we wouldn’t keep doing this twice a year.

—And, of course. Halloween falls on the last Saturday in October, so All Saints’ Day will always fall on a Sunday.

If only I had it in my power…

Gene Deason is editor emeritus of the Brownwood Bulletin. His column “TGIF” appears on Fridays. He may be contacted at tgifcolumn@yahoo.com.