STATE HOUSE, BOSTON, Nov. 30, 2016 (State House News Service) – Americans mark holidays based on the day of the month – Veterans Day, New Year’s Day and Valentine’s Day – or by assigning it a specific day of the week at a certain point in the month – Election Day, Presidents Day and Thanksgiving.

Aided by his local state representative, a Pembroke selectman wants to change when Bay Staters celebrate Halloween, moving the spooky, costume-clad holiday from Oct. 31 to the last Saturday in October.

“It would be nicer not to have to worry about people racing home to get to their kids,” said Arthur Boyle, a selectman for 15 years in the South Shore town. Boyle, who told the News Service he brought the idea up a couple months ago, said sticking the holiday on the weekend would allow authorities to better plan for it.

Rep. Josh Cutler, a Duxbury Democrat who represents Pembroke, filed a bill to officially change the celebration, though he is not completely convinced it is the right idea.

“I’m a bit torn,” Cutler wrote to the News Service in an email. “Having young kids I know it isn’t always ideal having Halloween on a school night, but I’m also a believer in holiday traditions.”

Filed on the Wednesday before Halloween the bill would establish the last Saturday in October as the holiday “recommending that the people carry out appropriate celebrations on said day.”

An often ghoulish festival where people dress up in costumes, carve jack-o-lanterns out of pumpkins and give out candy to trick-or-treating youngsters, Halloween has a particular foothold in the North Shore city of Salem whose 17th century persecution of “witches” makes it a destination for those in search of the occult.

Kylie Sullivan, executive director of Salem Main Streets, a non-profit that focuses on downtown, said a state law changing the celebration of Halloween wouldn’t make much difference for the tourists from around the world who descend on the city Oct. 31.

“I don’t think it would impact when they choose to visit,” Sullivan said. She said in Salem “Saturday before Halloween is a great time for adult celebrations,” with private venues holding events, and there has been a trend of tourists arriving earlier in the year, into September.

Sullivan said no matter what day of the week it falls on the last day of October is the biggest celebration, with people wandering the streets in costume “seeing and being seen.”

Boyle said a Saturday celebration “would make sense from a public safety standpoint,” because trick-or-treaters would not be walking around in the dark as people are driving home from work.

Massachusetts Major City Chiefs of Police Association President Brian Kyes, the chief of police in Chelsea, said initially the proposal “sounds like a pretty good idea,” by separating trick-or-treating from rush hour traffic, but he also noted a spike in trouble-making and violence when the holiday falls on a weekend night.

Kyes told the News Service that when Halloween falls on a Monday or Tuesday “usually the drama is not at its peak,” and this year, when Halloween was on a Monday, it was “very quiet.”

“It definitely has the potential to get out of control,” Kyes said.

Jon Hurst, president of the Retailers Association of Massachusetts, said he would want to hear from members before taking a position, but he has personal experience with a major business lobby interested in how the calendar affected Halloween.

In the 1980s working as a lobbyist for the Hershey Company in Pennsylvania, Hurst said there was much discussion in the candy industry about extending daylight saving time – when clocks are set one hour earlier than standard time – so there would be more light for trick-or-treaters in the early evening.

“It was just something that was openly discussed among the candy industry,” Hurst told the News Service.

About a decade ago, federal lawmakers changed daylight saving time so that clocks are not set back until after Halloween. While unsure about the proposed Halloween calendar change, Hurst said Halloween is a “growing spending phenomenon.”

Lawmakers this year took a move to potentially alter Bay State time-keeping, establishing a study commission to look at potentially remaining on daylight saving time year-round, though not all of the appointing authorities have named people to the commission yet.

According to a brief history on the National Aeronautics and Space Administration’s website, Halloween is an amalgam of various ancient traditions including the Celtic New Year’s festival, All Saint’s Day, All Souls Day and Guy Fawkes Day – with the earliest predecessor holiday traced to Samhain, a Celtic harvest festival.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau there were 40,900 acres of pumpkins harvested in the United States in 2015, and nearly 49,000 people employed in the chocolate and confectionary industries in 2014.

Told about Cutler’s proposal, Housing and Economic Development Secretary Jay Ash had a one-word response, calling it “interesting.”

Co-sponsors of Cutler’s bill are Reps. James Cantwell, of Marshfield; Diana DiZoglio of Methuen; Mathew Muratore, of Plymouth; Thomas Calter, of Kingston; and Brian Ashe, of Longmeadow.

Oct. 31 will next fall on a Saturday in the year 2020.

Comments (10)
  1. Talk about ‘majoring in the minors’ – This is all this state Representative has on his mind with all the political upheaval this country is dealing with right now?! That is frustrating, that someone who was elected to that position is so out of touch with what is going on.

    Leave the holiday alone. We have enough change in our lives, we don’t need more just to make things more convenient. People are used to it being on a certain date and that’s the way they want it. Find something actually important to do.

    1. He’s a democrat. They don’t deal or live in reality. They live in “good feelings” and “good intentions”, not results.

      1. bees_knees_6 says:

        Awwww – it is okay, Brendan, maybe your mommy will allow you to go to school a bit later if Halloween falls on a weeknight. Based on your childish response, I am assuming you are perhaps in grade school?

  2. Another idiot liberal trying to change something that has been around and will be around longer than he will. If these dems don’t like holidays and the day they are celebrated why don’t they just leave the country and go live in Russia or someplace where they are not celebrated.

    1. bees_knees_6 says:

      Before calling people idiots, it is always a good idea to do your due diligence. One of the sponsors of the bill is republican. What was that about idiots, Brendan?

  3. bees_knees_6 says:

    All Hallows’eve is the night before All Saint’s day. It is observed in ways that have nothing to do with Trick or Treating. I understand that many parents would like this change and have asked for it. If you are responding to that request because you represent all, then that is the American way. I, for one, see no reason for a change.

  4. Alan B Flood says:

    Well might as well give the resident troll someone else to jump on – right bees knees? we have an AG in the state going after ExxonMobil and prior to that all lawful 2nd amendment followers and now she needs money in her campaign fund to protect us citizens if the new president should do something unconstitutional like her campaign fund must pay for the SG’s office to go after Trump. And al lthis time maybe the state legislature ought to be investigating her illegal fund raising instead of worrying about the day we celebrate Halloween – I imagine the next target will be to change the day of the Christian Christmas as well as July4 th and New Years day as well. Sad state of affairs in this state – too much attention to the ailly satuff and not enough attention to the serious items, toad and bridge infrastructure or maybe MBTA or Governors stockpiling his hacks in a certain cabinet area. Or maybe even going after the past governor to investigate his dealings and time away from the job. But we worry about Halloween……….

  5. bees_knees_6 says:

    Whatever you say Alan B Flood. You set yourself up as superior in your first eight words.