Where will your children be in two weeks on Saturday evening, Oct. 30?
People will have to make choices when it comes to celebrating Halloween this year — and they aren't the tough choices of who to dress up as, or what to hand out at the door - the problem is another "holiday vs. holy day" controversy.
As it has done seven times in the past 39 years - most recently in 2004 and 1999 - Oct. 31 falls on Sunday.
In Utah's religious environment, this usually means the unofficial, generally observed Halloween trick-or-treat night will be a night earlier — Saturday, Oct. 30.
Sure, there may be a few ghosts or goblins still knocking on doors on Oct. 31, seeking treats, but the vast majority will likely be out on the streets Saturday night instead.
Utah certainly isn't alone in this switch to Saturday, though it appears less controversial here than in most other places in the nation.
Other areas, particularly the Bible Belt, also observe a Saturday trick-or-treat night.
For example, the Destinlog.com newspaper in Destin, Fla. had an article on this year's Halloween observance controversy clear back in September.
By then Destin City Hall had already received three citizen inquiries about which day was going to be observed as Halloween this year.
"The city doesn't regulate Halloween" was the answer given.
Some military bases apparently celebrate Halloween both nights, to appease both sides of the Saturday-Sunday argument.
Lara Jones, spokeswoman for the Salt City Police Department, agreed that Saturday would likely see the bulk of the trick-or-treating this year in Utah. However, either way, she believes the police will be ready for anything that comes along.
She also stressed that the Salt Lake Police will be holding their own, safer alternative to door-to-door visits , with its annual free, public open house with the fire department on Friday, Oct. 29. 1-4 p.m., 315 E. 200 South. There will be candy, a picture booth with the police chief, K9 dogs and more.
Jones said it's a myth that Halloween in Salt Lake is the biggest night of the year for alcohol violations. The Fourth of July tops that list.
However, religious arguments about Halloween still appear to be key issues when the observance falls on a Sunday.
"Why are Halloween activities on Saturday not Sunday this year and every 6-7 years? The answer is that Utah and other parts of America, like the South, are highly religious cultures in which churchgoers attempt to honor the Sabbath, keep it holy as the Bible prescribes," said Pastor Travis Mitchell of the Sandy Ridge Community Church in Sandy.
"And most churchgoers view their Sabbath on Sunday and so Halloween activities that 'seem to be worldly but fun' ought not to be done on a Sunday."
Still, he wonders if Halloween activities were held on a Sunday how many people would truly participate?
"Sundays are already packed for many churchgoers with services, talks, activities all on Sunday. So on a very practical level who would really participate, who would stay at home, and who would miss these services, talks, activities so they could go out with their kids trick and treating?" Pastor Mitchell said.
He acknowledges that Halloween itself — celebrated on even a weekday — can still be a controversial subject for many Christians and said Romans Chapter 14 may offer some counsel.
Religion aside, some changes of trick or treating to Saturday this year might involve football. For example, the New Orleans Saints play on national TV on the night of Oct. 31, so some gridiron fans may likely prefer a Saturday Halloween this year. Other die-hard NFL fans may feel likewise.
Some parents might also prefer their kids get a sugar high on Saturday night instead of Sunday, with possible consequences in school on Monday.
Some LDS Church wards offer alternatives to door-to-door trick-or-treating. with "trunk-or-treat" events. Members gather in the church parking lot and have members open their vehicle trunks and pass out candy in a safe environment.
This year, for example, the Camelot Ward in Layton will hold a trunk-or- treat and chili dinner at 4 p.m. on Oct. 30, while the Windsor Meadows 1st Ward has its trunk-or-treat planned for Saturday, Oct. 23, 4 p.m.
Jones said these safe events, seem to get bigger each year.
"Don't let consumerism get a hold of you," Pastor Mitchell advised. "Buy a costume, buy the candy, buy the decorations but put some money aside from what you planned on spending for the purpose of caring for the poor and needy, locally and globally. It is what God expects of us."
Steve Russo, a former co-host of Focus on the Family's "Life on the Edge — Live!" national radio program, wrote a book, "Halloween: What's a Christian to Do?" For starters, he'd like to dispel one anti-Halloween myth.
"Halloween is not Satan's birthday," Russo said. "People tell me that all the time, and I ask them to show me a Bible verse that says that, because there isn't one. Actually, what the Bible says (in Psalms 118:24) is 'This is the day the Lord has made, let us rejoice and be glad in it.'
Russo believes Christians can benefit from one of Halloween's most popular activities.
"Some parents think trick-or-treating is wrong, but it offers a unique opportunity to Christians — the ability to meet your neighbors and be a positive influence," he said. "Give out the 'good' candy, set up a table with hot coffee or cocoa for the parents and don't be afraid to talk about the holiday and its meaning."Comment on this story
According to some legends, Halloween was originally concocted in A.D. 835 by Pope Gregory IV. The Catholic Church celebrated All Saints Day (also called All Hallows Day) on Nov. 1 — supposedly to both honor saints in heaven who didn't have a feast day reserved for them and to turn people away from the pagan holiday, Samhain or the Witches New Year. The partying often started the night before, which came to be known as All Hallows Eve, or Halloween.
Also worthy of friendly noter, it was Oct. 31, 1517, that Martin Luther posted his 95 Theses for Church Reform on the door of the Wittenberg Cathedral, kick-starting the Protestant Reformation. Many Christian groups continue to celebrate the date as "Reformation Day."