Halloween: a grand American tradition in which children get dressed up as superheroes and demand free candy from their neighbors, teenagers put on masks and drape trees in toilet paper, and adults try to outdo each other at parties with increasingly elaborate costumes. This celebration of all things spooky, creepy, and crawly traditionally takes place on October 31, at the height of the fall season. All that could change, however, if Snickers has its way. The candy company promises to dispense 1 million free candy bars if the date of Halloween is changed to the last Saturday of October.
Sounds great in theory, but there’s actually an important reason that Halloween falls on this particular day. Halloween originates from a Celtic holiday called Samhain, which was celebrated 2,000 years ago to mark the end of the harvest. Around this time, the veil between the lands of the living and the spirit world supposedly thinned, allowing fairies to walk among mortals.
Several traditions sprung from Samhain. Revelers lit bonfires, left out offerings of food and drink for wandering spirits, carved creepy faces in turnips, and went door-to-door in costume singing songs. In the eighth century, however, Pope Gregory III declared November 1 All Saints Day, a time to celebrate Christian martyrs and saints. The day before became All Hallows’ Eve, and eventually Halloween. Admittedly, Halloween has evolved quite a bit since then; it’s mostly about free candy and pumpkin carving at this point.
Unfortunately, the long history of Halloween’s origins seems to be fading fast. A Change.org petition, created by the Halloween & Costume Association, is demanding that the federal government move Halloween to a Saturday so that celebrations aren’t crammed into one weeknight. Kids can stay up later eating their candy, and the party can start in the much safer daylight hours. These are all logical arguments for why Halloween is better suited to the weekend, but many families seem to have already solved this problem by trick-or-treating the weekend before Halloween or right after school when it’s still light outside. Snickers, however, supports a more official move to Saturday.
“Snickers is all in on celebrating Halloween to the fullest,” Josh Olken, Snickers’ brand director, wrote in a statement obtained by Thrillist. “If the federal government makes this thing official, we’re offering up to one million free Snickers to America. No tricks, only treats.”
It’s a generous offer, but Snickers aren’t exactly expensive to begin with, or hard to find on Halloween or otherwise. If you want to spend an entire day celebrating, it might be worth supporting the petition. But if you’re just in it for the free candy, maybe consider that changing the date of Halloween would erase thousands of years of history before you sign.
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