Monday 29 July 2019

Movable Feasts: Should Festival Dates be Changed?

In America, there is a petition gaining momentum to move Halloween to the last Saturday in October, while in England, next year's May Day bank holiday has been moved from May 1 to May 8, to coincide with the anniversary of VE Day.

Now, Halloween is a bigger thing in America than it is in England. The move is being asked for due to safety reasons, as thousands of children get injured while out trick or treating in the dark every year. It is thought that moving it to a weekend would make it safer.

Even if Halloween does get changed in America, that doesn't mean it would get changed in the UK too. However, pagans are upset about both the May Day change and the potential Halloween change. May Day coincides with the modern pagan wheel of the year festival of Beltane, while the Christian festival of Halloween coincides with the modern pagan wheel of the year festival of Samhain. Both are based on older folkloric customs.

Of course, the move could mean that pagans get to celebrate extra festivals - our own feasts *and* the secular one a few days later or earlier. However, many feel upset that, once again, pagan issues are being ignored. It would be lovely to have all of the wheel of the year dates as bank holidays, everywhere in the world. As we currently have so few, the May Day change touches a nerve. Halloween is not currently a bank holiday, but why not make it one, rather than move it?

These festivals are long traditions - and they are not traditional movable feasts - surely creating extra bank holidays would improve safety *and* keep everyone happy?

What do you think?

The picture shows the community book Every Day Magic at a feast to mark its launch at The Atlantis Bookshop, in London. Every Day Magic offers something magical to do every day, including traditional festivals and other spells and rituals. You can buy the book at Atlantis and also view Every Day Magic on Amazon.

Links and previous related posts


Anonymous said...

Sorry but I am really upset by this. Once again the Pagan world is being pushed to the background , these dates are important in our world , not something to be moved . Sure they are pointing out saftey as an issue , but we know the world of big business always find a good excuse to do things, when we know really they expect to make more profit from a move.

Badwitch said...

I agree with you, I am upset by it too.

Anonymous said...

Halloween and Samhain aren't the same thing though, and we don't get a holiday for either. I also think making trick or treating safer isn't the right reason for changing a Christian religious feast. If you want to take your kids out on a weekend, make it a community-based thing, not a national or international thing.

Badwitch said...

Indeed, I didn't say they were the same thing, I said they coincide, which means "occur at the same time". In England, many community events do take place for May Day and Halloween - and already often are at the nearest weekend. However, making an extra bank holiday on the traditional date for Halloween (which happens to coincide with Samhain) would probably be welcomed by many people. Making VE Day and May Day both bank holidays in 2020, rather than the short notice switch, would probably also please a lot of people.

Anonymous said...

What are a few days between feast dates when southern hemisphere pagans need to move them by 6 months to make them seasonally appropriate. The culturally Christian/secular Easter and Christmas festivals – and their respective public holidays – are fixed on the calendar according to northern hemisphere seasons, so Easter is in autumn and Christmas is in summer. Australia’s Christmas in July is purely commercial, and starts at more than 7 days after the winter solstice. Paradoxically, this later date is closer to the ancient Julian calendar, which is 13 days behind our modern and moved Gregorian calendar.