Last Saturday of October: National Trick or Treat Day

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As I See It

BY ELPIDIO R. ESTIOKO

In October of 1998, my children, barely a year in the US, were introduced to American culture by participating for the first time trick or treating from one house to the other in the affluent neighborhood of my sister-in-law Sharon in the Santa Clara area, which day happens to be her birthday.

My youngest at that time was five years old and my eldest was 17. My wife Delia and I were able to bring five of our six children to America when we immigrated to the US towards the end-month of 1997.

Dressed like a witch (all black witch attire), she greeted the people coming over her house and handed them the usual candies of all sorts to children and adults in Halloween costumes in their candy bags plus soda and sandwich as added features, a sign of her birthday that very day.

Every year, people in the neighborhood anticipate that day since it is a different day to celebrate the event. In addition, my nephew Terry, shows Halloween videos projected all over the house (outside) as an added feature on the occasion. Terry is a techy and makes sure every year he has new Halloween videos to show, in addition to all the Halloween stuffs of ghosts, scary-carved pumpkins, and the like. The show starts as early as 6:00 p.m. and ends at 10:00 p.m. when treat or trickers are gone!

That is a different way of treat or tricking by children accompanied by their parents and also for young adults every year. My sister-in-law was happy, it’s her birthday coinciding on Halloween Day, and she prepares for it every year.

National Trick or Treat Day began as a movement led by the Halloween & Costume Association (HCA) to change Halloween’s date from the 31st of October to the last Saturday of October. The Association argued that it would be safer and more enjoyable for kids to go Trick or Treat on a Saturday rather than on a week day. The leaders of the movement stated that the lack of time and supervision on a week day increases the number of kids injured during Halloween. Although the movement’s petition picked up over 120,000 signatures, the HCA had to change its goal. In 2019, the organization created the National Trick or Treat Day which observance occurs on the last Saturday of October.

“We’ve listened to all of your feedback since the petition started in 2018 and view this as an opportunity to truly honor what Halloween is – a celebration of self-expression and unity. While we still believe an end-of-October Saturday observance will promote safety and increase the fun, this year we will be launching a national initiative designed to enhance the Halloween that we all know and love. Instead of changing the date that American’s celebrate Halloween, we will be adding an additional day of festivities in partnership with Party City and other brands. National Trick or Treat Day will take place annually on the last Saturday of October so families across the country can participate in community parades, throw neighborhood parties and opt for daytime Trick or Treating.

Halloween & Costume Association, 2019,” HCA explained.

According to HCA, there are 3,800 Halloween-related injuries per year; 63% of children don’t bring a flashlight when they go trick-or-treating; and according to Scathe percentage of children 5 and under that go trick or treating without supervision is 12%. That was also one for of the reasons why they changed the day to a Saturday, instead of a weekday.

It is a surprise for us immigrants, especially FilAms, to know that Treat or Trick is a craze here in the US, not only for children but even for adults. They really find time to celebrate it and spend money for costumes, considering that we don’t celebrate it in the Philippines.

Homeowners also spend money and efforts in decorating their homes and make them presentable for trick or treaters to see and admire. There were even reports that employees have to file their live in office, so they can accompany their children trick or treating for hours.

My youngest, who was five years old when he was introduced to the house-to-house treat or trick Halloween culture, is now 26 but he still enjoy going with younger ones and with his peers celebrating the age-old American culture. Trick or treating has been a bonding moment for years for friends and relatives that’s why it is one of the long-time favorites of Americans all over the land.

It was established that the practice of trick-or-treating on Halloween may come from the belief that supernatural beings, or the souls of the dead, roamed the earth at this time and needed to be appeased. Others believe that it may otherwise have originated in a Celtic festival, held on 31 October–1 November, to mark the beginning of winter.

Trick-or-treating—setting off on Halloween night in costume and ringing doorbells to demand treats—has been a tradition in the United States and other countries for more than a century. Its origins remain murky but traces can be identified in ancient Celtic festivals, early Roman Catholic holidays, medieval practices—and even British politics.

In 1951, although it is unknown precisely where and when the phrase “trick or treat” was coined, the custom had been firmly established in American popular culture, when trick-or-treating was depicted in the Peanuts comic strip. In 1952, Disney produced a cartoon called “Trick or Treat” featuring Donald Duck and his nephews Huey, Dewey and Louie.
Trick or Treat…

(Elpidio R. Estioko was a veteran journalist in the Philippines and an award-winning journalist here in the US. For feedbacks, comments… please email author at estiokoelpidio@gmail.com).

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