We are unique in that we celebrate Nevada Day at almost the same time as Halloween.
In Nevada, the official anniversary of when we were admitted to statehood is Oct. 31. Coincidentally, the same date as Halloween.
Halloween is not an official holiday, but it has become one of the most celebrated “holidays” of the year and marks the unofficial start of the holiday season.
It is widely believed that many Halloween traditions originated from ancient Celtic harvest festivals and that such festivals may have had pagan roots. Today’s Halloween customs are also thought to have been influenced by Christian dogma and practices derived from it. Halloween is the evening before the Christian holy days of All Hallows’ Day on Nov. 1 and All Souls’ Day on Nov. 2, thus giving the holiday on Oct. 31 the full name of All Hallows’ Eve.
Halloween activities include trick-or-treating, attending Halloween costume parties, carving pumpkins into jack-o’-lanterns, lighting bonfires, apple bobbing, divination games, playing pranks, visiting haunted attractions, telling scary stories, and watching horror films.
Here in the USA, the historical and religious significance of Halloween has given way to the commercialization of the holiday. Every store you go into between Labor Day and Oct. 31 will have on display Halloween-themed decorations and displays of candy. With the advent of advanced lighting and low-cost electronics many of the decorations would not seem out of place in a major theme park.
Historically we celebrated Nevada Day on the 31st, but in 2000, the Nevada Legislature decided to celebrate the holiday on a Friday, hoping that a three-day weekend would generate more interest. Nevada Day is now observed on the last Friday in October. But most of the big events in Carson City, including the parade, now occur on the following Saturday.
This convergence of Nevada Day and Halloween can be somewhat confusing, especially to visitors and new residents. In Carson City, “trick or treat” used to be held the day before Halloween and Nevada Day because of the Nevada Day events taking place in Carson City.
Kids in Carson City would “trick or treat” Oct. 30 and then go to the neighboring Reno area and do it all over again on the 31st. Because the 31st was a state holiday, government offices, schools, banks, and many businesses would close. This gave the appearance to those from out-of-state that we were celebrating Halloween because they had no idea what Nevada Day was.
Now with the Nevada Day holiday moved to the last Friday of October there is less confusion between celebrating Nevada Day and Halloween. In Carson City, “trick or treat” has moved back to the 31st. It still is somewhat confusing celebrating a state holiday and trying to figure out what government agencies are open, what banks are open, and what businesses are open. All state agencies except emergency services are closed. All federal agencies are open. Schools are closed. Most banks are closed, and most other businesses are open. So depending on where you work, you may or may not get to take advantage of the three-day weekend for Nevada Day.
I still miss the uniqueness of celebrating Nevada Day on the 31st though and confusing the heck out the rest of the country!
Tim Burke is a businessman, philanthropist, educator and Pahrump resident. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org