How Early Is Too Early to Decorate for Halloween?

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As of September 1, it’s officially Halloween season in my house. Of course, I live on the second floor of a three-flat and don’t really have access to outdoor spaces except for my deck, which no one else uses or really even sees. So I’ve already set up my holiday candles, pulled out the cauldron to display, and started gathering cobwebs.

If I had my way, though, I’d have Halloween decor up all year — and I know many of you would as well. It gets a little more complicated when you live in a home with a homeowner’s association (HOA), unfortunately. There are often regulations for when you can put decorations up and when they need to be taken down. But what’s the general consensus around when it’s time to decorate for Halloween? To shed some light on the questions, I’ll first fill you in on what Halloween is and then I’ll dive into decorating etiquette. 

Halloween is an annual holiday on October 31, also known as All Hallows’ Eve, Samhain, and All Saints Eve. It may have morphed into a day and night of scary fun, with costumes and candy everywhere you look, but it actually has both pagan and religious roots. Ancient pagans celebrated Samhain from October 31 to November 1, a time when the seasons changed and when it became easier for living humans to connect with their ancestors. (Pagans still celebrate this holiday today!) For Christians and Catholics, November 1 was known as All Hallows Day, and October 31 was All Hallows’ Eve. When the religious world began to obliterate the pagan world, the traditions combined.

When to Decorate for Halloween

Like I said, for me, the best time to decorate for Halloween is pretty much always, but usually I begin around September 1. I am, though, in the minority there. According to a YouGov poll, nearly 50 percent of respondents think the earliest acceptable time is between October 1 and October 15.

Haunted house creators seem to agree in principle, with most spooky attractions opening in late September (usually the last weekend) and running through the holiday itself. As for homes, most HOAs agree with the poll, much to my dismay. My sister-in-law tells me that in their suburban Chicago neighborhood, decorations can go up one month before Halloween but must be removed within two weeks following the holiday. In suburban Seattle, one HOA allows residents to put decorations up a month before and have them up for a month after. And one of the most restrictive seen in the course of this reporting was also in suburban Chicago — everything could go up on October 1, but had to be taken down the day after Halloween.

That all being said, who’s to say that your Halloween skeleton wearing a Santa hat is still a Halloween decoration?

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