An Early Halloween for Mormons?

That’s what this story says:

Members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints will do Halloween things on Saturday, Arizona spokesman Don Evans said.

“When a holiday such as this falls on Sunday, we automatically celebrate on the previous day,” he said. “One of the Ten Commandments is to keep the Sabbath holy.”

Interesting. Is this official? I don’t remember doing this before, but maybe I’m just forgetful. (And I don’t recall hearing about that in church here — but perhaps it was mentioned when I was distracted chasing the kids.)

52 comments for “An Early Halloween for Mormons?

  1. Bryce I
    October 14, 2004 at 7:17 pm

    I don’t think this is intended to say anything more than that Church social activities are generally not scheduled on Sundays.

    Kids in our ward get to rake it in — the Primary sets up a “trunk or treat” at which parents sit in front of their car trunks (or minivan tailgates) and pass out candy to kids dressed up in costumes. All the candy, none of the walking.

    And any excuse to not recognize Halloween is fine by my book.

  2. October 14, 2004 at 7:30 pm

    That’s the second time I’ve heard the term “trunk or treat.” The first time was last week. Is this an LDS adaptation of the holiday or a more widespread American practice?

  3. john fowles
    October 14, 2004 at 7:33 pm

    Evans is certainly referring to any ward organized halloween celebrations for the kids. I don’t think it is realistic to think that LDS kids could go around their neighborhoods on Saturday to trick or treat! People wouldn’t have candy for them a day early.

  4. Jonathan Green
    October 14, 2004 at 7:35 pm

    Two thumbs up for trunk-or-treat. The kids rake in way more candy than they can eat without parental, um, assistance.

  5. Ivan Wolfe
    October 14, 2004 at 7:47 pm

    In my small hometown of Homer, Alaska we went trick or treating on Saturday when Halloween was on a Sunday.

    The trick is to find a neighborhood that has a large Christian population – they also will do trick – or treating on Saturday (as long as they aren’t one of those super conservative Christians that think Halloween is evil).

    So, it can be realistic to expect that Mormons could trick-or-treat on a Saturday Oct. 30.

  6. October 14, 2004 at 7:53 pm

    On a similar note, let me totally freak you all out with this: creepy, creepy stuff.

  7. Greg
    October 14, 2004 at 8:04 pm

    Hilarious. Thanks Steve. I’m going to work on my Gordon-O-Lantern next family home evening.

  8. Silas S
    October 14, 2004 at 8:05 pm

    I grew up in a Canadian community that is about 75% LDS. When Halloween was on Sunday the whole town did it on Saturday — Mormons and non-Mormons alike. I don’t think there is any official policy about it but this seems to be the tradition in heavily populated Mormon areas.

  9. October 14, 2004 at 8:14 pm

    Halloween fell on Sunday one year when I was a child in Alabama. Much of the neighborhood (predominantly Christian but no other LDS folk) trick-or-treated on the Saturday before, so as to keep the Sabbath holy. Others performed the grand gathering of candy on Sunday night. Houses kept their candy bowls stocked both nights, just in case.

  10. uffo
    October 14, 2004 at 8:20 pm

    Thanks to our activities committee, we will be having our ‘Halloween Spooktacular’ and trunk-or-treat that Saturday night. Our first trunk-or-treat was experienced after moving to AZ.

    However, the article was clear that members in the Mesa/Gilbert area of AZ will be trick-or-treating on Saturday night. I’m pretty sure this is the context of the area spokesman’s comment.

    I also remember Saturday only trick-or-treating when it fell on Sunday as a kid in UT. My guess is that it will be that way back home this year too.

  11. October 14, 2004 at 8:21 pm

    Greg, wouldn’t that be a Gordon B. Lantern?

  12. October 14, 2004 at 8:21 pm

    Steve, thanks for that link. I’ll be sure to put out my Sabbath-worthy jack-o-lantern this Halloween. :mrgreen:

  13. October 14, 2004 at 8:32 pm

    As a youth I did not like the ward holloweens. The thing was “safe” but dry.
    I enjoyed running around the neighborhood seeing houses dressed up and other kids dressed up.
    I have seen other Holiday activities moved due to Sunday being the day they land on. Kind of conflicted over the subject. July 4th is not the same on July 3rd or 5th.

  14. Sharen
    October 14, 2004 at 8:34 pm

    Even in far away rural Michigan, we do have Trick or Treating on days other than the 31st, when it falls on a Sunday. The date on which to celebrate each year (with a parade, no less) is decided by the City Council, of which I was a member. Needless to say, our city is not heavily populated by LDS. We also have “trunk and treating” in some of the adjacent small towns, since they are primarily farming communities. These are held at the local High/Middle/Elementary Schools complex in town.

  15. Keith
    October 14, 2004 at 9:35 pm

    I think it’s just a shame that we can’t put Jesus back into Halloween.

  16. Fred Astaire
    October 14, 2004 at 9:43 pm

    No voices of dissent??

    What’s wrong with trick-or-treating on Sunday?

    The urge to gather in a parking lot and turn from car-trunk to car-trunk, filling one’s bags with candy, lacks all the charm and adventure and mystique of children walking from house to house and ringing doorbells and waiting with excitement.

    But more seriously, the trunk-or-treat scheme is a classic instance of the Mormon clannishness much derided by Pres. Hinckley: Halloween is a community event, where we have an opportunity to chat with neighbors and fellow citizens, demonstrate that we’re part of society. Instead, we huddle in our church parking lots, drawing ourselves, yet again, out of the communities where we’re needed.

  17. Bryce I
    October 14, 2004 at 9:44 pm

    Click and scroll down for shrunken head apples, courtesy of The Only True and Living Nathan.

  18. Bryce I
    October 14, 2004 at 9:48 pm

    Fred Astaire —

    Are you kidding? Trunk-or-treat is the easiest way to get your non-member friends over to the church. A pre-Halloween candy orgy — what kid’s parent could say no?

  19. S. Taysom
    October 14, 2004 at 10:14 pm

    For those of you who choose not to take the kids trick or treating on Sunday, do you plan to give candy to those who come on Sunday? I had never actually thought about that before this week, but if going out is a violation of the sabbath, wouldn’t giving candy out on that day somehow encourage the violation of the principle? I plan to give it out on the 31st, but I’m surious about what you all feel about it.

  20. October 14, 2004 at 11:26 pm

    For those of us who do not participate in Hallowe’en, this isn’t an issue. ;-)

  21. Ashleigh
    October 15, 2004 at 12:37 am

    I would like to say in all seriousnes that Halloween is the best holiday in the entire universe, and all of you party poopers who take your kids to trunk-o-treat to get out of doing the fun stuff are bad bad people.

  22. diogenes
    October 15, 2004 at 2:02 am

    I think it’s just a shame that we can’t put Jesus back into Halloween.

    Well, truth be told, since Hallowe’en was intended to be Samhain/All Soul’s Night/Day of the Dead, around here we put a Mormon spin on it by working on our family history names and/or doing a temple session — seems a better way to honor the dead than sporting goofy costumes and plastic pumpkins.

  23. October 15, 2004 at 7:45 am

    1) I adore Halloween, as it is the only real remnant of a pre-Christian tradition which most of us suburban-dwelling Americans and Western Europeans will ever encounter in our lives. Every tradition, every Denkart, has something to contribute to humanity, and Halloween–with all its echoes of the early Christian encounter with paganism, as well as all the material trappings which it has taken on over the ensuing centuries–is no exception. Scarecrows, jack-o-lanterns, spook alleys, scary stories, begging for candy, taking your kids out at night, ghosts and witches: it all rocks. I can understand and sympathize with those Christians who take a straightforward “What Would Jesus Do?” approach to determining their participation in holidays, but I suspect that route ultimately leads to a pretty barren life, rather than a culturally rich one.

    2) We take our kids to the ward trunk-or-treat and go trick-or-treating with them on Halloween. I’ve never known the ward party to actually take place on Halloween itself, if only because the young men and women–who in every ward I’ve ever been in have run the activities–are usually busy having fun (and rightly so!) on Halloween itself. Double the candy, double the community bonding (with the ward on one evening, with your neighborhood the next).

    3) Our strongly Baptist community will almost certainly send the majority of their kids out trick-or-treating on Saturday. Unfortunately, this is one of those circumstances where it’d be helpful to have some civic or institutional figure who could speak for the community collectively–that, simply assert that Halloween activities should take place on Saturday, as Mike Leavitt did in UTah years back. The Baptists lack such a figure, so there’ll probably be some confusion, meaning that we’ll probably need to have candy on hand both evenings.

  24. SFW
    October 15, 2004 at 8:33 am

    Amen, Ashleigh, amen.

  25. Amanda
    October 15, 2004 at 9:30 am

    Growing up in Bible Belt Oklahoma with a Bible college in our town, I always had a little different experience for Halloween. Our town officially celebrated Halloween on Saturday if it was on a Sunday that year. Of course, there were always a few trick-or-treaters on Sunday, too, so we’d give them candy, too. I don’t remember our ward ever having a trunk-or-treat, though.

    But Halloween in Oklahoma is, I have to admit, a bit weird. Half the Christians won’t celebrate it, and it’s against the rules to have jack-o-lanterns or witches or ghosts or any of those things at school as they are offensive. The solution for those churches is things called “Hell Houses”, I think. I wonder if they do these anywhere else. Anyways, they make these really scary sort of haunted houses. They take you through “wicked” events – people having abortions or drinking and driving. At the end, they show hell and the devil and such. I never went to one, but the stories I heard where enough. I always figured that if people were offended by Halloween, which seemed like such an innocent holiday, they definately weren’t keeping in that spirit by having these sorts of events. Talk about taking the Spirit away …

    I always loved Halloween.

  26. Mark B
    October 15, 2004 at 9:30 am

    Ashleigh should come to the Halloween parade in Greenwich Village to savor the sweet wackiness of the holiday to the fullest.

  27. October 15, 2004 at 9:36 am

    I think I’ve heard of some area churches doing “Hell Houses” in the past, Amanda, but then I heard about them back when I was growing up in Spokane, WA. I think it’s just something particular to certain kinds of evangelical churches. I imagine it’s probably more common in Oklahoma and parts of Texas than anywhere else.

  28. October 15, 2004 at 10:12 am


    They put on a Hell House here in Lethbridge every year.

  29. Ivan Wolfe
    October 15, 2004 at 10:51 am

    Trunk or treats are great – since, as said earlier, the candy haul then doubles.

    And actually, trunk or treats and Halloween parties at church are often (in my limited experience) the ones most likely to be attended by non-members, as they are seen as less threatening than other types of church activities.

  30. Sheldon
    October 15, 2004 at 10:56 am

    I’m with you. Any Mormon that would refuse to give candy to a kid on Sunday is a fanatic and has distorted the meaning and purpose of religion. The problem is that I can actually imagine some self-righteous person taking such a “stand” in the name of being a good example. Can you imagine the damage it would do to that family in terms of them ever being interested in the Church? Such stands do not cause admiration or respect, but loathing.

  31. Sean Harrison
    October 15, 2004 at 11:31 am

    Seems to me that since we have changed the actual day that we celebrate such holidays as Labor Day, Memorial Day and Presidents Day, we could avoid the whole issue of Sunday Halloweens and just change Halloween to the last Saturday in October.

    A side benefit would be avoiding the stress of trying to get the little kiddies up the next day for school after of late night of ghoulish devilry.

    P.S. Here in Alpine Utah (99.8% Mormon) every kid in town will be out on Saturday night.

  32. Silus Grok
    October 15, 2004 at 12:06 pm

    Sean: that would then exclude others.

    Why not the last Wednesday of October?

    As for myself, I’m not a big fan of the holiday… I think it’s come to celebrate gore and violence, and if I ever have children, I think it may become family tradition to spend the evening/week out of town some place fun (the annual trip to such-or-such).

  33. October 15, 2004 at 12:12 pm

    That is what we do Silus. We usually go to a movie or something along those lines.

  34. Silus Grok
    October 15, 2004 at 12:44 pm

    I thought of something similar… but worried about the children feeling left out (how do your children react to it?).

    If, on the other hand, they had bragging rights about something _better_, then I’m more confident that they’d not feel left out.

  35. Ashleigh
    October 15, 2004 at 1:23 pm

    Personally I think Sunday Halloween is the best, because then you can trick-or-treat both nights!!! And trunk or treat to boot. I officially dub thee The Year of Sugar!!

  36. Sean Harrison
    October 15, 2004 at 1:24 pm

    Sorry, Who gets left out on Saturday night? The Jewish sabbath ends at 6:00 PM on Saturday.

  37. Aaron Cohen
    October 15, 2004 at 1:31 pm

    Sorry, but it actually ends at sundown on Saturday. The point is still valid though

  38. cje
    October 15, 2004 at 1:51 pm

    Here’s an idea that came up a Bishopric meeting last week–with Halloween falling on Sunday wouldn’t this be a great oportunity for the Bishopric to come dressed as their favorite mormon characters.

    In fact the whole congrecation could get invovled.

    Trick n treating should definitly be done on Sunday.

    Trunk n Treat is for sissy’s

    Also why didn’t church on July 4th (this year it was on a Sunday) have a Sacrament meeting only schedule–there was just no way we could fit in SS and RS/EQ when we had bbq’s, pool parties to go to and fireworks to see.


  39. Silus Grok
    October 15, 2004 at 2:42 pm

    I know that shabat ends at sun-down… and the only others that I know of for whom Saturday (evening) would be an issue would be Church of the Nazarene and Seventh-Day Adventists — neither of whom (IIRC) deign to celebrate Halloween anyway. I guess I was just trying to avoid any religious problems.

    : )

    Besides, we need a few extra mid-week holidays.

  40. RS
    October 15, 2004 at 3:37 pm

    Is it a holiday if I still have to work? Halloween, Valentines Day, et al are not holidays. Vetran’s Day, Columbus Day, etc. are holidays for fed. employees and banks only. Even Civil Rights Day (MLK) and President’s Day are barely days off for some.

  41. Hans Hansen
    October 15, 2004 at 7:46 pm

    I’ve heard that one LDS guy dresses up like the Bishop on Halloween and offers you a “calling”; talk about scary!

  42. October 15, 2004 at 9:37 pm


    Our children really know no different. They know what trick or treating is and see other children doing it but they have never expressed a desire to do it themselves.

    And in case anyone wonders, our children have an entire costume wardrobe and are always dressing up as one thing or another. In fact, just tonight, our son donned the black cat costume.

  43. October 16, 2004 at 12:41 am

    See, this is what happens when I come late to the party.

    Our ward is organizing a trunk-or-treat this year for the entire community. We’ve included the two other contiguous wards, invited the other Christian denominations in the area, and plastered fliers on every door in the neighborhood (with a plan to re-plaster early in Halloween week) and in every retail business. It’s being held in the parking lot of the municipal park. In short, we’ve done everything possible to make sure this is NOT a clannish and exclusionary event. All we’re doing is getting the ball rolling on a community celebration.

    Only part of the impetus is the Sunday Halloween this year. The other part is that too neighbors are retirees who don’t want to be getting up to the door all evening, and too many are young partygoers who won’t be home. Last year my kids found someone home giving out candy at about every fifth door, and it was so bitterly cold and drizzly that they almost had frostbite after two blocks. So the trunk-or-treat’s got my vote all the way ’round.

    And if anyone comes by on Sunday, I can be reasonably sure that they’re trolling from outside the neighborhood. I’ll tell them, “Sorry — we gave out all of our candy last night, and I ate all the leftovers.” Which will be true, likely as not.

    (And thanks to Bryce for the shout-out on my shrunken apple heads; be sure to check back later as they acquire more personality with age, like most of us.)

  44. Chris Brown
    October 16, 2004 at 12:46 am

    When I was young in Pocatello, Idaho, it seems that there was some sort of city-wide announcement (in the newspaper?) that trick-or-treating would be done on Saturday, when Halloween fell on Sunday. I don’t think I really cared though… what kid is going to complain about getting his candy one day early?

    Trunk-or-Treat was also a tradition in my ward in Washington. Maybe it’s one of those “Mormon traditions” that’s spread across the country? There are plenty of those, anyway.

  45. Carol
    October 16, 2004 at 1:16 am

    In our area (in Iowa), we have Beggars Night. The city council tells us when it will be. I don’t know why they bother if they aren’t going to move it from Sunday.

    I’ve already told my daughters they won’t be trick-or-treating on Sunday. I feel like a mean mom, but I haven’t been active in the church for most of their lives. I have an 11-year-old who doesn’t feel very strong in the church and that’s my fault.

    I’m hoping our ward will do trunk or treat.

    I like the idea someone mentioned of bringing family history into it.

    My other idea, which I haven’t mentioned to anyone because I probably won’t follow through, is to have a little Halloween party at our house on Saturday. Too much work!

  46. Ashleigh
    October 16, 2004 at 1:21 am

    So TOTALN,
    A cute little princess, with big blue eyes, and frozen toes, has the audacity to ring your doorbell and say ‘trick or treat’ on Halloween and you’re going to look into those sweet innocent hopeful little eyes and say, “Sorry trix, you missed the boat.”

    I bet you tell girls scouts that you don’t have any money for cookies too.

  47. J. Stapley
    October 16, 2004 at 9:49 pm

  48. J. Stapley
    October 16, 2004 at 9:51 pm
  49. J. Stapley
    October 16, 2004 at 9:51 pm
  50. October 17, 2004 at 9:16 pm

    Only if they’re as rude about it as you are, Ashleigh. Sorry our community’s solution offended you.

  51. Goody Two Shoes
    October 23, 2004 at 11:14 am

    So It’s settled. We will all have Trunk or Treat on one night, Trick or Treat on Saturday night and give out candy only on Sunday night. Sounds good to me.

    Our saw sign here in NC from other denominations for Trunk or treat this year, so it is definitely not a Mormon thing. Also, definitley best to trunk or treat for fellowship and then trick or treat in your neighborhood to be a good neighboor and get to know each other. Our family did both on the same night, church and neighborhood.

    If you live in PA near Harrisburg you never trick or treat on Halloween night anyway. Go figure. It is always the Thursday before or something. and that’s nit a mormon things.

  52. D. Gregory
    November 1, 2004 at 9:19 am

    We did trunk or treating on Saturday and we went trick or treating on Sunday. I am happy to know that I am free to make that choice.

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