School after Halloween? Over my dead body!

Why OPHS should give the day after Halloween off


Artwork by Mina Jung

The Gregorian calendar graced us with placing Halloween on Friday and Saturday for the past two years. Unfortunately, that grace has ended in the year 2021; from 2021 and for the following four years, we will have to go to school the day after Halloween.

For your information, that means after a long night of going trick-or-treating, being scared senseless at a haunted house or watching some horror movies, students and faculty will have to go to school the next day, a prospect more frightening than Halloween itself. If you are a student, chances are you will wind up going to sleep later than normal to make space for your festivities. Work doesn’t magically disappear on the weekends for faculty, either.

Now, we recognize that Halloween may not seem as big of a deal, in terms of the importance of holidays, to some people. Some people just couldn’t care less about carved-out pumpkins, little children knocking on the neighborhood doors or everyone being bloated on a tub full of candy. And frankly, there’s nothing wrong with that.

However, statistics show that Halloween is not ‘no big deal’ for the majority of Americans. According to a September 2021 survey conducted by Statistica, Halloween is a “widely celebrated tradition” in the U.S., with approximately 70% of Americans planning to celebrate Halloween in the years preceding 2020, and approximately 65% of Americans planning to celebrate Halloween in 2021 …  and before you argue that Halloween is only a little kid’s holiday, this was a survey of 8,061 respondents who were all 18-years-old and older.

If 65% of 18-years-and-older Americans are planning to celebrate Halloween this year, one can reasonably assume that a considerable deal of Oak Park High School seniors (who are 18-years-old) and faculty are likely to be impacted by going to school the day after Halloween. By ‘impacted,’ I mean more sleep-deprived than usual. And this doesn’t even account for students under the age of 18.

Why does it matter if we’re more sleep-deprived than usual for one day? Well, besides the health detriments of sleep deprivation in general — especially for the developing brains of high school students — studies have shown that it also negatively impacts productivity. Grumpy teachers and grumpy students? Doesn’t sound like a great combo.

We can also look at the Super Bowl Monday phenomenon as an analogy to what happens the school day after Halloween. According to a 2019 survey analysis by The Workforce Institute at Kronos Incorporated, 17.2 million people were estimated to skip work on Monday as a result of Super Bowl Sunday. Furthermore, according to the coaching firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas, the estimated cost of productivity loss could be $4 billion.

To put in simpler terms, people party hard on Super Bowl Sunday and go to bed late, usually ingesting questionable substances — and by that, I of course mean gas-inducing nachos. Of course they don’t want to go to work the next day, the dreaded Monday, and even if they do, they are most likely suffering from the after-effects of ingesting said-questionable substances and cannot actually work productively. 

For Halloween, we gorge ourselves on candy and feel sick afterward. We stay out late with friends and family and go to bed late. Isn’t it reasonable that we neither have the desire or capacity to perform our best at school the following day? If the quality of our interactions and the quality of how much we learn could be translated into dollars, would it perhaps equate to the $14 billion loss in productivity on Super Bowl Monday?

Ok, let’s say that you still don’t believe Halloween is a legitimate holiday warranting a day off. So what makes a holiday worth a day off? When talking about the holiday season and holiday breaks, most people refer to Thanksgiving, Christmas and Hanukkah. We get breaks from school and work for these holidays presumably because they have rich historical and religious origins and are celebrated by many people. 

However, some people may not know that Halloween also has rich historical and religious origins. According to Statistica, Halloween originated from the ancient Gaelic festival of Samhain, which occurred at a time of year often associated with death and when “the boundary between the worlds of the living and the dead became blurred.” Of course, many aspects of Halloween have evolved into the trick-or-treat archetype we think of today, but so have many other holidays. Christmas, for example, originated from the celebration of the birth of Christ, not Santa Claus visiting every chimney in the world. That doesn’t make modern Christmas any less legitimate of a holiday than perhaps in ancient times; the same argument holds for Halloween.

Our well-being as a school is at stake for simply celebrating a legitimate holiday that we Americans love. And given that we couldn’t truly celebrate this cherished holiday last year because of the pandemic, Halloween of 2021 should go in full swing. The change is simple but so effective: give the school day after Halloween off.