If you're listening to The Drive on 106.3 KXNO this afternoon, you've already heard Sean talk about his disdain for the Central Iowa tradition of Beggar's Night. Sean has lived in Des Moines for a decade, but since he grew up in the Chicago suburbs trick or treating on Halloween (like most places do), he absolutely wants nothing to do with trick or treating on any other night.
He's been told the origins of the tradition go way back. From the Des Moines Register: "The flash point came on Halloween in 1938 when Des Moines police answered a record 550 calls concerning vandalism. Krieg, along with the Community Chest' group work council, began a campaign to encourage less violent forms of Halloween fun."
At some point, it was decided kids getting candy the night before Halloween might make Halloween itself a little quieter. The Register explains,"They set aside Oct. 30 as Beggars' Night and got the word out to the public that on that night — and only that night — children would be allowed to go from door to door and say the phrase "tricks for eats." The council urged that "eats should be given only if such a 'trick' as a song, a poem, a stunt or a musical number, either solo or in group participation, is presented."
5-0 and I decided that, no matter what night West Des Moines has decided to trick or treat, that we were going to go all out for Beggar's Night this year. We fired up NFL football in the garage, turned on the bistro lights and the lights on the police motorcycle in the garage, inflated our 7' tall Cy the mascot and draped him in a black cape with a mask, and had a fire in our fire pit.
And we welcomed our daughter and all the kids from the neighborhood, who seemed to be having a great time despite the fact it was the night BEFORE Halloween:
Not a single kid or parent complained they were trick or treating the night before Halloween. In fact, some of them are going to get TWO nights of trick or treating and dressing in costumes. And we had a BLAST. Therefore, I've come to this hot take conclusion: I DON'T CARE WHEN WE TRICK OR TREAT. It just doesn't matter. What matters is kids spending time with their parents, and having fun getting dressed up and walking the neighborhood.
Happy Halloween, both yesterday AND today!
Yours in Beggar's Night,