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Stinley's avatar

Why is Halloween on 1 October in US and 31 Oct in UK?

Asked by Stinley (5974 points ) September 29th, 2011

I’ve been a bit confused by people talking on here about Halloween already. It’s a month away. Then someone said it was 1 Oct. Is it then across the whole of the USA? Or do some celebrate on 31 Oct like us Brits? Why the the dates diverge?

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16 Answers

2davidc8's avatar

Halloween is also on 31 Oct. in the U.S.

Stinley's avatar

See @linguaphile’s answer to another question

2davidc8's avatar

I think that’s when @linguaphile’s Halloween decorations go up, not the actual date of Halloween. “Halloween” is actually a corruption of the phrase “All Hallows’ Eve”. All Hallows Day (that is, All Saints Day) is Nov. 1. Hence the eve of this day is Oct. 31.
The day after All Saints Day, btw, is All Souls Day (Nov. 2), or Day of the Dead in many Hispanic countries.

augustlan's avatar

Halloween is always October 31st in the states. Some people just like to decorate for the whole month.

ucme's avatar

I’ve always known it was on the 31st in both instances. I mean it says so in the movie so it just has to be!

lillycoyote's avatar

The dates are actually set by the Christian holiday schedule. Halloween is All Hallows Eve, the evening before All Saints’ Day, which is on November 1st. So Halloween, if it is celebrated somewhere will be on October 31 as will All Hallows Eve, if it is celebrated somewhere, unless there is some church that I am unfamiliar with that celebrates All Saints Day at some other time. Halloween is always on the 31st of October in the U.S.

Halloween and All Hallows Eve

All Saints Day

JLeslie's avatar

@lillycoyote I think it was a pagan holiday before it was a Christian Holiday?

tedd's avatar

@JLeslie Most christian holidays were pagan holidays first. Even Christmas. There was already a winter solstice celebration on the 25th of December every year. When Constantine wanted to integrate Christianity with the pagan Roman Empire he presided over, he made the 25th Christ’s birthday instead.

Easter also falls into this category.

JLeslie's avatar

@tedd I know. But, thanks. What I wasn’t sure of is if there was actually a Christian holiday that was mushed together with the pagan holiday, so not necessarily the pagan holiday was first, but rather adopted into the Christian holiday to attract the Pagans to Christianity.

WillWorkForChocolate's avatar

Perhaps some people begin decorating for Halloween on October 1st, but the holiday itself is on October 31st.

SpatzieLover's avatar

@Stinley I think sometimes when we type…no matter the keyboard, characters get left off. It appaers to me that’s what actually happened with @linguaphile’s answer on that thread.

janbb's avatar

When I lived in England 30 some years ago, Halloween was nothing there. I think it’s been brought in because companies can make money off of it. It’s also gotten to be a bigger and bigger deal in the States as well.

lillycoyote's avatar

@JLeslie Yes, it was, this is a pretty good article the history of it, but the actual date and the name of the holiday derives from the Catholic Church’s calendar and All Hallows eve and All Saints Day. The holiday has a pretty long history and has kind of a blend of influences that have shaped it.

cheebdragon's avatar

When did we start celebrating on oct 1st? I didnt get a memo, damn it, no one tells me anything!

Stinley's avatar

Thanks folks, you all make good sense. I wouldnt put up decorations until the day or maybe a day before as it not the done thing. Wouldnt want to be thought of as the weird Halloween lady! But if everyone’s doing it why not? I love Halloween. I agree that in England there seems to be more of a trick or treat US influence. In scotland the tradition is called guising – from disguise I presume. Kids have to perform a little bit by singing a song or telling a joke before they get their Halloween treats. All good stuff, earning their Halloween.

cheebdragon's avatar

Halloween is like Christmas for me…my kid is at the age where he’s old enough to trick or treat, but too young to have all that sugar, so he probably only gets about a handful of candy for himself, and a pillowcase full of goodies for the adults.

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