my company wants me to work Halloween and I’m a Halloween fanatic

A reader writes:

I’ve been at my job for six months and everything is going really well. I like the company, the work, the boss, everything is good.

After many meetings, it was decided that a large (yearly) project is going to be processed at the end of October. We had the ability to do this during various times but heads higher than ours picked the dates. The problem here is that I’m a Halloween nut. This is the equivalent of asking Buddy the Elf to work on Christmas. I love Halloween so much that I ask during interviews if October is a busy month. I often take off the last week of October, sometimes two for Spooky Season.

My wedding anniversary is that week (we had a Halloween wedding), I carve pumpkins, drink pumpkin beer, watch horror movies (my favorite!), and set up my house for the ultimate scare for the neighborhood children. I have a gigantic Halloween tattoo on one arm. I’ve volunteered at several haunted houses and hayrides. I’m trying to paint a picture here. It may be unusual that a woman in her 40s is this crazy over what some call a kids’ holiday (with which I completely disagree), but my point is that this is important to me and has been for a long time.

I had previously put in for two PTO days before the dates for the project were decided. My team made the assumption that I am leaving town since I didn’t rescind the days (someone else had PTO and rescinded their days, stating they were going to be home). I’m not going away, but I also didn’t correct anyone’s thinking out of concern that they would ask me to do the same.

The team agreed they can manage without me and I’ve volunteered to do the heavy lifting that leads up to the end of the month. I feel that I’m pulling my weight and have put in a lot of hours and effort into this project. I’ve offered to be available the Thursday and Friday that I’m off, via phone. I said I was not available on Saturday the 30th or Sunday the 31st.

They are already talking about next year and assuming I’ll be here for the project. The problem is that I am not now nor will I EVER be available on Halloween. I understand I can’t voice it that way to my manager, but I do need to find a way (and a time) to bring this news up to her.

I’ll work Christmas, Thanksgiving, my birthday, my husband’s birthday, whatever. My boss and I have a great relationship. We work very well together and my review is coming up. She knows I like Halloween, but I don’t know if she understands how much.

Some may think this is a silly hill to die on and that is okay. If this becomes non-negotiable, it is something I would consider leaving a job over. We all have things that are important to us and this is one of my few deal-breakers. When I asked during the interview about October, I was told it is not as busy and that was the truth at the time. If I knew this project was going to be a yearly time-consuming October effort, I would not have taken the job.

When would be a good time to bring this up? Obviously before October of next year. I was leaning towards waiting until after I have been here a year or at least my review. I’ve held back on saying something because I understand that it looks a little silly. Maybe there is someone out there who loves Arbor Day and wants off for that every year. I’m struggling to articulate this and appreciate any input.

You sound like you’re feeling very defensive about how important Halloween is to you, but I don’t think you need to be!

You get to decide what’s important to you and what’s a deal-breaker for you. Your Halloween week sounds awesome and I can see why you don’t want to give it up. We all get to have things that are important to us that don’t line up with more mainstream observances. (Hell, I once planned an international trip around making sure I would be home for the end of Daylight Savings Time because I like that day so much.)

That said, I can see why you feel uneasy about it too. When it’s a busy time at work, people do sometimes judge the reason someone is out (“she took off for a day at the beach during our busiest time and left us scrambling short-handed” can feel different than “she’s out for emergency surgery so we’re all pitching in”).

Still, though, you get to have a thing you need to be off for. If you had a bunch of them — if you required a week off for the 4th of July and a long weekend for your birthday and a week at Halloween and you could never be disturbed on either side of Valentine’s Day — that would be unreasonable at most jobs. (It would also be fascinating, and I hope to get a letter from that person one day.) But this is one thing. And you asked about October in the interview. You should be fine.

As for when to bring it up about next year, you have a bunch of options. You could mention it at your review. You could mention it at the start of the new year, in the context of planning for the year. You could wait until you’ve been there a year if you want. Any of those are fine. I would wait at least a month or two from now, though, since the more time that has gone by since the current busy period, the less likely people are to think, “Wait, that was why she didn’t cancel her days off during our big push?” (I’m not saying they’d be right to raise their eyebrows at it, just that it’s easily avoided so you might as well.)

When you do bring it up, frame it as, “I want to bring this up before planning starts for the next X project. I try to take off time around Halloween every year — at least a couple of days but sometimes a week or two. It’s my wedding anniversary and I have a lot going on at that time of year.” If your manager seems hesitant, it’s okay to say, “It’s so important to me that I actually make a point of asking about October before accepting a job. I know you didn’t foresee this project then, but if there’s a way to make it work, I’d really like to.”

Here is a spooky thing for you.

Read an update to this letter

{ 464 comments… read them below }

    1. Grand Admiral Thrawn Is Blue Forevermore*

      Absolutely! I love this person. I enjoy Hween too but I am not in the same universe as her.

    2. Speaks to Dragonflies*

      Yeah…Id just like to go to OPs house and help haunt…21 years and not a single trick or treater to haunt…woe and sadness…

    3. FrenchCusser*

      I usually take the first two days of the NCAA Men’s Division I basketball tournament off (I went to a major basketball university), and I’ve never apologized for it.

      As Alison said, you get to decide what’s important to you.

      1. Ana Gram*

        I take Black Friday off every year. I work in public safety so taking major holidays off isn’t really possible so I do Black Friday. It’s my day to check into a fancy hotel, order room service, and stay in bed and read all day. And use all the premium toiletries! Everyone at work knows and expects this and probably thinks it’s silly but I don’t care. That’s my day and I love it.

        1. Nessun*

          When my favourite online video game has an expansion I take a week off to enjoy it! There’s one due in February and you bet your a$$ I’m asking for a week to enjoy with my guild. Everyone at work has different priorities and days they want, and we’re expected to use our time as suits us best. Also, if I want a week in February or the LW wants a week in October – well, that works out well for people who want more time at the more “traditional” holiday dates! I’ll happily work someone else’s Christmas so they can enjoy being home with family, and I can be with my online family later in the new year. It’s honestly helpful when people don’t all want the same time.

          1. DigitalDragon*

            Yup! Got a week off in November for the new expansion of my favourite game – high five for being huge nerds.

            1. Why did I go to library school?*

              Eyyyy, I know what game you play! There’s something special about going through new content blind with a bunch of other huge nerds.

          2. Dr Logen*

            I used to the do the same! My husband and I took off alternating weeks when Skyrim came out since we only had one Xbox – he got the first week and I got the second! Now it’s harder because I’m a professor and cancelling a week of classes just wouldn’t be okay. But luckily my game’s big expansions always come out in June when I’m already off!

        2. Broadway Duchess*

          This sounds fantastic! In my department, everyone seems to take off the day before a holiday, so, say for Thanksgiving, I’ll be the only one in the office. Since I stay before, I always take off the Monday afterwards.

          I so want to do this hotel thing!

        3. iantrovert*

          I worked in retail for over a decade, and every year but one I opened on Black Friday. (Tired and caffeinated and stressed was better for me than exhausted and trying to pick up the mess left behind by the morning crowds.) I also make a point to not do anything on Black Friday now that it’s an option. “Sleep in until noon” is usually top of my to-do list ;)

        4. Whimsical Gadfly*

          I used to work in print advertising/newspapers. That was a great day off for my dept because all the inserts were printed/done through X-mas, most of the actual daily paper printed early, and if something went wrong there wasn’t a single thing we could do. And no one cared about the day to day stuff on that end. So it was a perfect break after a month or so of utter insanity and before the after BF insanity.

        5. allathian*

          Cool! I love the way you’ve invented a special day for yourself, given that you’re working most holidays.

      2. Jamie Starr*

        I have done this too! The D1 school I went to rarely makes the Big Dance but when they did several years ago, I took the day off so I could go to a bar and watch the game. (They lost in the first round…womp womp.)

        1. FrenchCusser*

          I usually pick a Cinderella or two when I’m filling out my brackets (I make no bones about the fact that I fill them in on sentiment) and occasionally some of them do really well, which is always fun.

          The year Villanova beat Georgetown for the title will be one I will remember even when I can’t remember my own name.

        2. The Rural Juror*

          My coworker goes to Las Vegas every year for the Final Four. Doesn’t matter who’s playing, it’s just a tradition he loves with his friends. I completely forgot what week it was in 2019 and called his cell to ask a question (we use our cells for work) and he actually answered. He was most definitely drunk haha!

      3. EPLawyer*

        I take the day after the Super Bowl off. I have been known to refer to it as the High Holy Day of Football. Fortunately I can set my own schedule pretty much. If the court asks me if I am available that day, I can say no and not have to offer an explanation. The first date you can do that. If this is the third time trying to find a date its a little harder to not offer an explanation. Only one judge knew the real reason and he found it amusing (we are fans of rival teams).

      4. Trixie the Great and Pedantic*

        Most of my days off are basketball-related! Mid-week day games, camp days, preseason tournaments, postseason tournaments… hello, friend!

    4. Eye roll*

      I feel like I was/am the OP. Time off for Halloween festivities and my birthday every year at the end of October. Unfortunately, I’ve acquired children and have to reserve more of my time off for them now. But I still take at least one day, and I’d get pretty disgruntled if that became our busy season instead of our low season.

      OP I hope your manager is prepared to work out a solution. Especially since you made it clear this was important to you from day one.

    5. Keymaster of Gozer (she/her)*

      Yep! I take the 31st off as it’s a religious observance for me (Samhain) but I’m all for people just wanting to enjoy the festivities.

    6. TardyTardis*

      I used to work a set at a Jaycee Haunted House in the evenings, but nothing like this (even though my two large rubber snakes Susie and Damballa miss going out since the Jaycees have collapsed in this town).

      Is there some other week you can pitch in so others can have special weeks, like the Christmas season? People will feel your taking off in October is more equitable if you’re making up for them at some other time.

    7. TJ*

      This week I took two days off for a Halloween Party to get my costume ready, help set up, take down, and then sleep in the next day in case we went late. It is often seen as less important holiday for adults (especially without children) it’s one of my absolute favorites! I hope you have a lot of spooky fun!

  1. The Bimmer Guy*

    I agree; this doesn’t need to be a stigma just because it’s Halloween and not something else.

    Also, OP sounds like they are a ton of fun! I bet they throw the best Halloween parties.

    1. MK*

      Well, I don’t think it’s “just” because it’s Halloween, any optional, non emergency activity might get judged too. I doubt people would be more understanding about a coworker expecting to always have the week of their birthday or Valentine’s Day off.

      1. ThatGirl*

        I almost always take a day off for my birthday – though I don’t make a whole Thing out of it or take a whole week off. But mostly people I’ve worked with do understand!

        And my husband has an annual con he goes to that’s high priority for him, which feels similar to the letter.

        1. AnonEMoose*

          My husband I volunteer for a local science fiction and fantasy convention annually. We do take a week off for it – it’s usually our one big thing each year, and it’s important to us. My coworkers mostly seem kind of intrigued, and are pretty understanding about it.

            1. AnonEMoose*

              We like to think so :-)! But seriously, we have panels on everything from actual science to art, comics, gaming (also actual gaming as well as panels on it), movies, and TV, a movie room, an anime room, a hands-on activity room, a costume contest (and people spend hundreds of hours and many dollars on that one), musicians, comedians, spoken word stuff, room parties, a dealer’s room, and more I’m not thinking of at the moment. We have guests of honor (not a lot of major celebrities, but we’ve had actors, authors, artists, and one of our favorite guests is an actual rocket scientist). It’s a lot of work putting it all together, and it’s all volunteer run, but it’s also a great time – and trust me…geeks know how to party!

        2. Amy Farrah Fowler*

          I think you just need to find the right work place – my company offers everyone their birthday off (or a day near it if it falls on a weekend) as an extra personal day. It’s a nice perk, and I always appreciate that our culture values that.

        3. Late to the Party*

          When I had a job pre-COVID I always took my birthday week starting at age 50. Three years ago my manager would not approve my request for time off (because he was a dick) so I went any way. Expected to get a call all week but it never happened. Went back the following Monday like nothing happened and my paycheck was the usual amount.

      2. Sloan Kittering*

        I think this is it. It’s not a “Halloween” problem, which is how I think OP is framing it to themselves; it’s an “optional-seeming” scheduling issue that conflicts with work, and those always have to be handled delicately but it’s doable with Alison’s scripts (I’ve certainly had jobs where not wanting to work Christmas week or Thanksgiving day was a sign of not being a team player).

        1. Marillenbaum*

          And I think OP is also in a better position because they are really flexible about other times of the year, and has done their best to pick up more stuff in the lead up to their time off. Personally, a person in the office who isn’t part of the December PTO scramble is worth their weight in gold.

      3. Beth*

        I’ve definitely known people who routinely take several days off for their birthday! And people who take off for all kinds of holidays, religious or otherwise. And people who always take off the last week of July because it’s their family reunion week, and yes it’s a somewhat arbitrary date, but it’s routine for their family and they’re not going to try to reschedule a 30 person gathering just because it’s not ideal for their boss. And people who take a day annually for the start of football season, or a few days for the start of hunting season, or etc.

        Assuming it’s communicated in advance, I’ve found most people are very understanding and tolerant of this kind of thing. (Yes, there are exceptions–a tax professional would be pretty harshly judged for insisting on PTO in April, even if they could get it approved–but OP asks about October in interviews! They’re doing their part to communicate this and prevent conflicts.) And especially with OP chipping in on the heavy lifting in earlier weeks…I’m betting them taking a couple days at the end of the month, when the rest of the team is still in to handle the wrap-up, will be workable. It just needs open communication in advance.

      4. Cold Fish*

        As long as it’s scheduled ahead of time, why a coworker takes a week off every year is not my concern. If they want to take the fourth week of March off every year, I have no problem with it. Their reason why doesn’t matter. They were given vacation time and that is how they choose to take it. Now if there is a major project due next week and they decide on Thurs that they’ll be taking next week off that could be a whole other issue.

        I got tired of working on my birthday and decided to start taking a long weekend for my birthday every year (sometimes the whole week if it falls on a Wed.) but I ask for the time off months in advance. I can make sure my desk is as cleared up as possible and anything due during that time is as completed as possible if someone else needs to finish it.

      5. Alex*

        I think this is very dependent on field of job and also the culture around vacation – for example, I have been at my current job (Europe) for 9 Years and from Year two on I always had a specific Week in February (My wife’s birthday), three specific Weeks in July (summer vacation) and another week off in December in the week of my own birthday – with another week of vacation to be used where needed. My Team knew this, and each of them had a similar schedule with their own dates that are important to them – and this was normal over here. The only expectation against our planning was that we don’t take off any time during school holidays as those weeks were reserved for parents with children.

        Awesome arrangement, easy to plan around (and the business is happy to have a reliable schedule to plan around even long in advance) – everybody wins…

      6. Maglev to Crazytown*

        When working in an area with lots of hunters… It is hard to cover hunting season. Some people have a a specific special week of the season they take. Some take two weeks. Have known someone who periodically takes a month once he builds up the PTO store.

  2. Ground Control*

    This is the sweetest response and such a good reminder that capitalism shouldn’t destroy everything we love.

    1. Mental Lentil*

      capitalism shouldn’t destroy everything we love

      Shudders! But what about the stockholders?

      /s — really, this should be on a t-shirt.

    2. Coenobita*

      Yes! I try to take my anniversary week off too, though for me it’s the week of Labor Day rather than Halloween (and, while I certainly support workers’ rights/the labor movement, for me it’s not about the holiday but rather about honoring my late grandparents, who also had a Labor Day Weekend wedding). It’s actually kind of inconvenient in my current job, because I work in an advocacy field related to disaster response and that’s prime time for Atlantic hurricanes, but overall it’s fine! I LOVE the suggested wording of “I try to take off time around Halloween every year — at least a couple of days but sometimes a week or two. It’s my wedding anniversary and I have a lot going on at that time of year”!

      1. Fran Fine*

        I loved that wording as well because it shows the emotional significance of this event if the joys of the holiday itself isn’t enough to convince OP’s manager to give her time off at Halloween every year going forward.

    3. Tom*

      Friendly reminder that all the other economic systems are just as prone to crushing joy, if not more so.

      1. Awkward Look Monkey*

        Pffft, it’s not like there’s another system that has been tried countless times and has always resulted in millions and millions of deaths and a corrupt government Americans can’t even dream of.

    4. Lemons*

      Halloween as it’s generally celebrated is fairly capitalist, though. It probably wouldn’t have the popularity it does if it weren’t a good hook to sell themed versions of everything.
      That’s not meant as a value judgment, but I don’t see much distance between the two.

  3. Stitch*

    If it’s not workable I have some advice that I got from when my Dad had to do ER shifts on holidays when I was a kid and then myself working holidays as an adult.

    A holiday doesn’t have to be the calendar day. All that stuff will still be there on December 27th or October 29th or whatever day you choose. So if it doesn’t work for some reason, just make whatever day you can your holiday. Try the best you can to get off, but if you can’t work within the options you have.

    1. The Boogala*

      I feel like this is really naive. The point of celebrating is often to celebrate WITH other people and if they celebrate on a certain day or have a certain day off then you need that day off too. This might not go for all of OPs activities but for instance she can’t just choose to hand out candy to children on a day other than October 31st because no children will come to her house on a different day.

      1. Stitch*

        I mean, I lived it both as a kid and an adult. There are a lot of jobs people have to work holidays for. My Dad’s a pediatrician and kids get injured on holidays. My sister in a LEO and she even had a homicide duty shift on Christmas day, meaning she was on call to go to death scenes on Christmas day.

        A guy I was friends with missed his kid’s first Christmas because he had to be at a theme park shift, but said kid also needed to eat, so he had no choice.

        If you’re stuck in that situation, you make the best of it. Lots of people do it every year.

        1. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

          But OP is not a LEO and does not work in an ER, and was initially told that October is not busy. They don’t have to make the best of it. They can just turn around and find a job where October is not busy.

        2. JustMyImagination*

          I think there’s a difference between family-oriented holidays like Christmas and Thanksgiving where you typically make plans in small groups and Halloween, where much of the celebration and fun is public-facing. I can ask my family to come over and open presents together any day, but I can’t ask the haunted house to stay open an extra week or the neighborhood parents to trek their kids in costumes around on a different night.

          1. OhNo*

            Agreed. If it’s a family-centric holiday, then the family can decide as a whole to celebrate a different time, without missing much. But if it’s a case of the whole society celebrating on a specific day, and interaction with the broader society is required for the main festivities (e.g.: trick-or-treating), well… no such luck.

            It sounds like the LW already has the “celebrating around and not on the holiday” part down pat, given that they have some spooktacular fun the whole week. If that alone were sufficient, I doubt they would have written in.

            Also, LW: from a less-hardcore spooky-times fan, I’m right there with you! I managed to schedule a long weekend for Halloween this year, and I’m not giving it up for love or money. A good boss will understand that keeping their employees happy is paramount, and work with you to make it happen if they can.

        3. CSI*

          The difference is that cops and ER doctors know in advance that those jobs need 24/7 coverage. I’ve been called out from a Christmas party to a crime scene, and I hugged my parents goodbye before throwing a uniform jacket over my reindeer sweater and going to work the evidence- that’s the job I signed up for when I put in my application. OP didn’t.

          Even then, I’m not on call for Christmas every year. For OP, her yearly project being permanently set for October is more like the police chief announcing that all the annual crime stats need to be complete and turned in at midnight on New Year’s Eve so from now on there will be no vacation days permitted for the last two weeks of December. Even cops and ER doctors wouldn’t accept that.

          1. Sloan Kittering*

            It’s also uniform across the field (more or less). Emergency staff are always going to have to work holidays – if OP is in a typical office job, she might very easily find another office job that would not mind if she always takes the end of October off. So it’s also a question of opportunity.

        4. Lady Catherine de Bourgh*

          Sure, there are some jobs where you know going into it that you’re not going to get holidays off – law enforcement, hospitals, firefighters, utility workers, etc. But it does not sound like the LW is in a job like this.

      2. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

        Second this. I get the sentiment, I’m from a family where we’ve celebrated each other’s birthdays two months late, because that was the earliest we could all get together. No big deal. But the trick-or-treating, the haunted houses and hayrides, etc, will not still be there on any day OP chooses. Going to be hard to find a haunted house to volunteer at in December! This is more like an event type of thing; e.g., if I take a week off in August every year to go to (say) a gaming conference, I cannot change that to September, because the conference will be over by then.

        1. Web of Pies*

          I think December 27 was meant to indicate moving Christmas celebrations (protip: move it a few days BEFORE to be totally done before the big holiday scramble). Most of OP’s activities (barring the Halloween night haunted house) will be available to her the entire month of October so I think Stitch’s suggestion is a good one.

          1. calonkat*

            Oh, I disagree. Moving Xmas celebrations to after means not having to compete with football games and sometimes awesome decorations and gifts in the clearance sales :D

            My family has moved thanksgiving, xmas, birthdays, just about any holiday. But Halloween has to be when the neighborhood will be trick or treating and it’s acceptable to get gas while dressed as the blue fairy (not that I don’t get gas dressed in costumes all year, it’s just that people don’t STARE on halloween)

            1. Might Be Spam*

              One day in August, I got gas while I was dressed in full Colonial regalia. As far as I could tell, nobody batted an eye.

          2. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

            At least where I’ve lived, the trick-or-treating is a literal 2-hour window that is announced by the city in the early fall of every year. And when it’s over, it’s over. The kids aren’t going to come back Nov 1.

            And, it sounds like the big project wrap-up will take OP’s team most of the month. OP did state that they have “volunteered to do the heavy lifting that leads up to the end of the month”, so they already are following Stitch’s suggestion to a point. They just cannot make themselves available for the entire month, which is what the project seems to require – only for the early portion of it.

            1. JustSomeone*

              A 2-hour window announced by the city? That’s wild to me! Where I’ve lived it’s after school through kid-bedtime, so roughly 3-10 PM. But it’s not formally legislated.

              1. Midwest Teacher*

                I’ve literally never heard of doing it that way and that seems completely bananas to me. It’s always been a 2-3 hour window in every city/state I’ve lived in.

                1. Midwestern Scientist*

                  Our town just has end time (usually around 10) and they sound the emergency sirens to signal the end of trick or treating to avoid late night disturbances

                2. Fran Fine*

                  I’m from the East Coast, and growing up, trick or treating was an all night/early morning affair – there were no curfews. When I moved to the Midwest in high school, my township had curfews for Halloween night and trick or treating that eventually got whittled down to a two hour window. It’s still that way in my city, and it’s horrible. Those poor kids will never get to experience the kind of heady mischief I got to explore as a kid in the 90s.

                3. Mockingdragon*

                  Haha it was bananas to me when I moved from a town like JustSomeone’s into a place like yours. Especially when they occasionally move trick-or-treat to the closest Saturday! Half the fun is that sometimes you get to go stay out late on a school night! My friends and I used to go out around 5 as soon as we’d had dinner and walk miles and miles through the various suburbs until 9 or 10

                4. Lalala*

                  My hometown always had Trick or Treat the nearest Saturday to Halloween, in the early afternoon. It boggled my mind when I learned that wasn’t normal! But it’s a really rural town where many families have to drive into town for T&T, so I imagine it’s intended to make it a safer and more accessible event for the community. (As a current parent of little kiddos, I definitely see the appeal!)

              2. RagingADHD*

                I’m with you. Having it regulated by the city sounds just…bizarrely Stepfordy. Everybody respects the jack-o-lantern/porch light rule around here.

                It seems to start and end earlier every year. Lately we hardly get anyone after 7:30- 8pm. It’s so odd to me to the kids out in daylight at 4.

                IDK if the young parents these days are scared to let the kids out in the dark, or what.

                1. Jay*

                  Where I live, Trick or Treat is the Friday before Halloween from 6-8 PM. By law.

                  Yes, this is nuts. It’s also not the same in every municipality. Some do Friday. Some do Saturday. Some actually do Halloween. Enterprising teenagers or kids with cooperative parents can trick-or-treat three or four times.

                2. Calliope*

                  How old are the kids? Here, most kids stop trick or treating before middle school so going out before 8 seems pretty reasonable to me. But it also gets dark early here and is usually rainy and cold on Halloween.

                3. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

                  Cannot speak to the young parents these days – my previous city of residence used to post a day/hours to Trick or Treat back when mine were in elementary school, and mine are now in their mid to late 20s. I never saw it done any other way, so it never struck me as weird. I thought it was convenient that I didn’t have to be on the ready with my bowl of candy for an entire day (or days?) and that I could plan my drive home around the trick-or-treating hours, so I am not in danger of hitting a kid running along a dark street as I’m driving home from work. And as a parent, you know when everyone’s light is going to be on, so that’s also easy – you walk the streets once and you’re done. (Saying this as someone who one year had to trick-or-treat in the snow – that was not fun and I wouldn’t have managed to do it any longer than the 2 hours.) But who knows. I just never saw a flex-hours trick-or-treat. Maybe I’d like it if I saw it.

              3. Mannequin*

                Where I’ve lived it’s always been “as soon as it just barely starts getting dusk” to 9 or 10 pm, no regulated hours, and I find that wild too.

        2. PeanutButter*

          Yep. I had 15 years where I never celebrated Christmas or Thanksgiving ON Christmas or Thanksgiving because I was a paramedic. I was always able to get NYE and Halloween off, however, because I always let it be known I’d trade a Halloween/NYE shift for a Thanksgiving/Christmas Eve/Christmas shift in a heartbeat, and we knew our schedules several months out. (Pretty much as soon as schedules were out if people saw I was on Halloween or NYE I’d have a bunch of texts asking me to swap.) 24/7/365 shift work has it’s own norms and work arounds though, that are completely irrelevant for people who aren’t in that environment.

          1. WS*

            Yes, and growing up with a parent on that schedule meant that when it was my turn to be in that kind of job, I was pretty chill about it!

        3. Erin C.*

          Related/unrelated I was talking to a coworker in her 20s who was annoyed that her family consistently scheduled “Early Thanksgiving” for Halloween weekend. Rescheduling holidays? Fine. Rescheduling them on another holiday? She said no one in the family under the age of 30 plans on attending, because they’re all in prime Halloween partying years and I can’t blame her.

      3. Beth*

        Yes, especially for Halloween. That’s a community holiday! A lot of the fun is in participating in neighborhood activities and community events, which absolutely can’t be rescheduled around one person.

        Rescheduling a holiday works when it’s a small-group celebration. Birthday parties can wait until everyone’s available. Thanksgiving can happen on Saturday instead of Thursday. But the moment you get bigger than a family group, it becomes really difficult to shift it. Christmas can be ‘rescheduled’ for your family opening presents, but not for attending Christmas mass. If you’re not home when your neighborhood is trick-or-treating for Halloween, you’ve missed it; there’s no alternative celebration.

    2. KHB*

      In general, I agree with your Dad, but in this case, it sounds like a big part the celebration involves community events (hayrides, decorating the house for trick-or-treaters), so it wouldn’t necessarily work for OP to have her own private Halloween in December.

    3. Presea*

      This seems like good and compassionate advice for a lot of people in a lot of situations, but I think OP has already chosen the battle they want to fight here, and has probably already decided what consessions they will and won’t make. It seems like they’ve made a very deliberate effort to avoid the sort of situation where this kind of holiday coverage is necessary.

    4. I WORKED on a Hellmouth*

      This is really more like, say, going to Comic Con every year. You can’t shuffle the dates around for it, as they are set in stone–as are all of the panels, scheduled photo ops, and cosplay contests. Great mindset for things that don’t have hard and fast dates, though!

      1. Seven hobbits are highly effective, people*

        Yeah, I’d love to see more general advice at some point on how and when to bring up a Specific Un-moveable Yearly Event that you’re always going to want to have time off for during the interview process when your thing isn’t something lots of people care about like Christmas.

        Some people always want to go to Burning Man, or Worldcon, or SDCC, or Gencon, or whatever and want that specific week off each year. How would you go negotiating something like that, assuming you were in a situation where you could be picky? (I would love to be able to negotiate time off for Worldcon at my next job – my current job has times of year that are easy to get off and times of year where you can pretty much only be gone if you or a close relative is in the hospital. Late August is one of those “hospital only” times so I miss it a lot of years.)

        1. KateM*

          In some sense, it should be easier than when it is something that lots of people care about? Less competition for vacation time during Exactly That Time.

          1. General von Klinkerhoffen*

            Yes, my initial feeling was that Halloween ought to be an easier sell than early July, late November, late December.

            And I get that’s why TPTB have put this project in for October annually – specifically because it doesn’t coincide with any periods of high leave demand.

        2. Free Meerkats*

          So this year’s Worldcon move to December played right into your hands!

          Hope to see you next year in Chicago!!

          1. Seven hobbits are highly effective, people*

            Discon os sliiighly too early in December to work for me too, unfortunately. :( I could have made it work if it spilled into the week after the weekend rather than the week before, but I couldn’t get any time off that particular week and would have had to fly cross-county on con Saturday, which makes no sense in terms of amount of con experienced versus amount of time on planes during COVID.

            Chicon is right out unless I get a different job by then – it’s in very early September right in the “not even one day off” zone. Can’t make it to Winnipeg if they win 2023 either (not going to China if they win regardless – haven’t even looked at their dates to check for conflicts, it’s just not someplace I feel comfortable traveling to for a variety of personal reasons), and currently pinning my “future Worldcon attendance” hopes on Scotland’s 2024 bid (going to save the money that I didn’t spend traveling to this next set in hopes of being able to afford Fancy Airfare to Scotland instead of coach).

            Now next summer’s Westercon in the middle of nowhere, that might be do-able…

            1. Free Meerkats*

              It’s still in Tonopah? I hope the Clown Motel is back open! It would be worth the walk to the con every morning to stay there again.

              I gave away my memberships for Discon; no way I’m going to fly across country the week before Christmas.

              And it really sucked not getting to go to New Zealand last year…

        3. Robin Ellacott*

          I would say ask about how available vacation time usually is and whether it can usually be approved with decent notice. You would probably get a good sense of the culture from their response.

          We have a Halloween Person here too, and another who does craft shows at Christmas (as a seller) and it’s no problem. We almost never deny vacation requests and would be open about that in an interview.

          In other workplaces if there were “all hands on deck” times I expect they would just say so.

        4. This Old House*

          LoL, I definitely had to google Gencon to see what it was. Could there be another genealogy convention I hadn’t heard of?! Sadly, no.

      2. SimplytheBest*

        Comic Con is one weekend. You can carve pumpkins and watch horror movies and go on hayrides and to haunted houses most of October. There may be one or two specific activities that have to take place on October 31 (trick or treating for example) but most of it can be done weeks ahead of time.

        1. I WORKED on a Hellmouth*

          Yeah, the Comic Con I attend is Thursday through Sunday, my friend, which is four days. Not including travel. But the point is, a lot of stuff CAN’T be moved for either, which is why I made the comparison. Your prime hayride and haunted house volunteer days? Those are probably going to be the week of. Building an elaborate haunted house set up in your home? That also is a lengthy thing that you’re not going to work on “just whenever” throughout October. So yeah. OP isn’t just going to a few hayrides and watching a few movies, she has specific activities that occur on specific days and times or that have a specific amount of necessary set up time. Also, they don’t WANT to do it weeks ahead.

    5. Aj Crowley*

      I’ve worked in jobs that required holiday shifts but usually you know in advance that is the nature of the work. LW even asked to make sure that this wouldn’t be the case. Everyone has a right to not work this type of work if they choose especially in fields where this is not common (medical fields and retail often do require working some holidays).

      How would a private non-10/31 Halloween celebration even work? This isn’t like just serving thanksgiving foods on a different Thursday in November.

      1. Ding ding*

        They already said they celebrate for the full two weeks before, so clearly there’s a lot you can do not on the day itself.

    6. Pool Lounger*

      This may not be the case if the writer is a religious Pagan. In some religions ypu celebrate on certain days for a reason. Sure, you can clean your ancestors’ graves and make offerings any time, but for many doing it on a certain day is very important.

      1. I'm just here for the cats*

        Pool Lounger took the words right out of my mouth. I know the LW didnt say that this was a religious thing for her but we could look at if the same way.

        For some people Day of the Dead (also 10/31) is A VERY BIG DEAL in their family and they would especially need it off.
        For a Pagan or a Wiccan religions the day is especially important as that particular date is when they do their rituals ,etc. They really can’t celebrate on other days. (I know very little about their actual religious ceremony so if someone knows more please expand)

        Also keep in mind that they want this done on a sunday. For many people Saturday or Sunday is a day of rest and they DO NOT WORK on those days.

        1. AnonEMoose*

          The exact ceremonies can vary a lot from group to group, or even from person to person, as some Pagans and Wiccans are individual practitioners. But often it’s basically about honoring your beloved dead and/or your ancestors, sometimes there’s divination, sometimes a feast that may include favorite foods of those you loved who have passed on, some people might put pictures on their altars for the occasion. That part isn’t intended to be spooky – it’s about people you love, and connecting with them in some way, after all.

          But…a lot of us enjoy the spooky, too – that’s the fun part!

          Sometimes, too, it’s about the Horned God going into the Underworld to prepare for rebirth at Yule/Winter Solstice. And sometimes, a bit of both. What people choose to emphasize in their celebrations varies a lot.

          1. EveryWitchWay*

            I’ve ended up with conflicting dates even as a Pagan, since several groups I’ve celebrated with have had gatherings at the same time. Fortunately, due to calendar shifts over time, the astrological cross-quarter day (the original basis for the timing of the holiday) is about a week later, so for me, Oct 31st celebrations are the gatherings with those who feel the most attached to that date, and the following week is for my own personally significant religious rites (and we’ve just passed the closest full moon, which is when others celebrate).
            But for the OP, I completely agree that there is no substitute for the date for the scope of the way she celebrates, nor any reason to claim a religious need to take it. Personal preference is reason enough.

        2. PT*

          Day of the Dead is NOT October 31. It’s November 1, it coincides with All Saints’ Day in the Catholic Church.

        3. Anonywitch*

          (Not using my usual handle for this one!)

          For witches working with groups, there’s often a certain amount of “when can people get together” in the mix. (My group, we usually do ritual on the nearest Saturday late morning, for Samhain we aim for most useful Friday or Saturday night – this year, Saturday the 30th, which helps the person who’s got a kid of trick-or-treating age the next night.)

          Related, I take the week before Christmas/New Year’s off every year because I do an up all night vigil for Winter Solstice. I sometimes end up missing the department brunch late that week (depends how the days fall), but it means I’m more available over the days between Christmas and New Years if my coworkers want time off. (We’re super quiet then, so the past couple of years, I’ve taken it as well, with a promise to peer at my email once a day just in case something urgentish does show up.)

          The other Sabbats, my personal stuff doesn’t usually require work-schedule time to do, so I don’t take it as vacation time.

      2. Spencer Hastings*

        Not to get all advice-column-fanfic about it, but this is one case where I think we can be pretty confident that if that were the case, the LW would have mentioned it. And the answer would have been much simpler: “I need to take PTO on dates X-Y for Samhain, as a religious accommodation.”

        1. Pagan Witch*

          As a pagan, I would not. I’d like to keep my job and move up and outing myself won’t serve that.

          1. AnonEMoose*

            Yeah, that’s definitely a thing. Still way too many people out there who would not react well. I’ve been out to a very few select coworkers over the years, but only a select few.

          2. Atalanta*

            Same. I’ve been open (or outed) about being Pagan at my workplace before and had some horrible experiences with fundamentalist coworkers and bosses. They haven’t all been bad, I had a job where the Director of IT would ask for a tarot reading before scheduling big jobs, but when it went bad, it went really bad.

            1. AnonEMoose*

              I once did tarot readings for the annual charity thing for work, and one person that I hadn’t met before was like “You’re freaking me out!” (they did seem to find it helpful, though).

    7. Gothic Bee*

      The problem is Halloween is fairly different from other holidays in this respect. I mean, sure, you can celebrate Christmas or Thanksgiving on a different day, but trick-or-treating only happens on Halloween night. Halloween can be a really community based holiday, especially if you live in an area where you get lots of trick-or-treaters, so it’s not something you can just move. Sure, LW can do scary movies and other stuff in the lead-up to Halloween night, but speaking as someone who also loves Halloween, if you miss celebrating on October 31st, you really do kind of miss out on the holiday.

      1. Coenobita*

        I mean, sure, you can celebrate Christmas or Thanksgiving on a different day, but trick-or-treating only happens on Halloween night.

        Weirdly, where I grew up trick-or-treat was always the Thursday before Halloween during certain specified hours. But I totally agree with you overall! Things happen on certain days for a reason, and it doesn’t sound like OP is in a coverage-based job.

        1. MCMonkeyBean*

          It’s so interesting, I keep seeing posts on Facebook and my community reddit asking what day trick-or-treating will be happening so I guess communities scheduling that must be a fairly common thing! But where I grew up we always just did it on actual Halloween night so the first time I saw someone ask that I was very confused. I guess it makes sense, though it seems like it could be tough to make sure everyone is on the same page and prepared the correct night!

          1. Gracely*

            Where I grew up, Halloween was always whatever night it fell on, UNLESS it fell on a Friday, because our town had limited police capacity, and the high school football game took too much coverage for them to do both. So in those cases, we’d have trick-or-treating on Thursday instead.

            One time people got their knickers in a twist about Halloween falling on a Sunday (because it was ungodly? I don’t know, nor do I care), and some people wanted to have trick-or-treating changed then, too, but basically everyone just decided to go on Sunday.

          2. GammaGirl1908*

            I passed by someone online asking this too and I was totally baffled! I’ve never been anywhere that trick or treating isn’t on Oct. 31, starting around sunset, rain or shine, cold or hot. Like, it’s never remotely even occurred to me that it COULD happen on any other day.

            Maybe if the 31st is on a weekend, young kids go to school dressed up on the Friday before? but that’s about it for moving pieces of actual Halloween.

            1. Fran Fine*

              Yes, that’s how it was when I was growing up. If Halloween was on the weekend, we’d wear our costumes to school on Friday. Since it’s on Sunday this year, my work team is having our virtual Halloween party on Friday as well (some of us will even be in costume).

            2. Ace in the Hole*

              Yes, I’m very surprised to hear there are communities that regulate trick-or-treating. Everywhere I’ve lived, it’s done on October 31st starting around dinner time and going late into the night. Kids go out on whatever schedule they and their parents decide. People turn off their porch lights and extinguish any jack-o-lanterns to signal they’re “off-limits” for the night (so people won’t ring your doorbell anymore).

              There might also be a publicly-organized halloween event for families, but it doesn’t replace neighborhood trick-or-treating.

          3. Cold Fish*

            I’ve heard of this happening in the last couple of years and I don’t agree with it at all. Try knocking on doors and asking for candy on a random Wed in March and see how far you get. I only hand out candy ON Halloween. And I hand out the good stuff too, full size Snickers & Reese’s.

            Now if a school or community center wants to organize a little Halloween fair on Friday (when Halloween is Sunday), I have no problem with it. That is their thing to schedule/deal with.

            I was just speaking with someone the other day and wondering if there will be trick-or-treaters this year or not. There is still a pandemic going on…

          4. JustSomeone*

            I had never heard of this until this comment section! Halloween is…on Halloween. Trick-or-treating has always been on October 31. Parents tend to take little kids out right after school hours and be done before dark; older kids skew a bit later in the evening. I had no idea other places would just declare an alternate date or mandate specific times.

          5. Quinalla*

            Same, where I grew up trick-or-treat was ALWAYS on 10/31 no matter what – times did vary but not by much, generally 6ish-dark. Where I live now every community has it on a different day – rarely on 10/31 even if on a weekday – and different times plus a lot of churches, etc. have halloween parties or trunk-or-treat well before halloween. You could probably trick-or-treat at least 10 times if you really tried :)

          6. Starbuck*

            Weird, I live far north enough that it gets dark in the early evening on Halloween, so it’s always on October 31st even if that’s a school night.

            Now, adults costume parties and such, those will often be on the closest weekend in October even if it’s not the 31st. Right now where I live most people are planning parties for the 30th because that’s the Saturday.

            1. General von Klinkerhoffen*

              Same – the adult party is on Saturday night, and the children’s party is on Sunday evening and includes the trick or treat trail.

              In our community trick or treat is always on 31st, even if it’s a school night (as it is this year). It’s also dark by like 5pm so you just go out earlier if you need them in bed earlier.

          7. Broadway Duchess*

            Yes, this was my experience growing up, too. We got trick or treaters all day, or at least starting around 11 am*! My brother and I waited for our dad to come home to take us when we were too young to go alone, otherwise, we were out until 9. Neighborhood full of kids and everyone had good candy. My folks still live there part time and now trick-or-treating is scheduled 3-7 pm and on Halloween unless it’s a Sunday. Obviously I loved how it was when I was a kid, but I’m sure

            *The preschoolers got out around 10 back then and I think the parents didn’t want to be out with the older kids? Or maybe their little ones didn’t want to wait?

    8. generic_username*

      I understand the sentiment, and grew up in a family where we often did that stuff too due to my dad often being deployed (I honestly struggled to remember when my actual birth date was for most of my childhood because I celebrated it weeks early/late sometimes). But I’m going to echo everyone else pointing out that this holiday isn’t one that really works with.

    9. Starbuck*

      I just don’t see how this is actionable for OP. For one, celebrations that happen within a community, and not just immediate family, can’t really be shifted to a different day. It happens when it happens – kids aren’t going to come round for trick or treating on November 2nd.

      1. SimplytheBest*

        But other than trick or treating, most of what OP says she loves doing at Halloween doesn’t have to happen on that one day.

        1. Starbuck*

          “I’ve volunteered at several haunted houses and hayrides.”
          Those are temporally limited too. In my area, a big thing is the drive-in theater’s annual Halloween monster/horror movie feature. Etc.

          Just shifting her personal dates is the easiest possible option, I’m sure she’s already considered it so it’s still not really helpful or actionable.

        2. Ding ding*

          Yup. It’s literally 2 hours of trick-or-treating… the other stuff is open for several months. Why is everyone so obsessed with tearing down this idea, proposed as a ‘just in case’ at that?

  4. dorothy zbornak*

    I am the opposite of Halloween so would gladly cover for anyone who wanted time off. Somewhat related, a few years ago my whole team took off to see the new Star Wars movie and I really didn’t want to go but didn’t want to seem like a bad sport. So my coworker helped me spin it as someone needed to stay back to cover in case anything came up so it was a win-win.

    1. My boss rocks*

      I´ve done something similar, in my country mother’s day is fixed on a date (it can be any day of the week) and it’s IMPORTANT here so a lot companies let people go home and celebrate, but I don´t live in the same city than my mother (something not that normal here) so I always offer to be “on call” for my team if something happens. Builds a lot of good will with the team, and I really don´t mind because I am not seeing my mother that day anyway.

    2. infopubs*

      I agree! I hate Halloween with a white hot passion and would gladly work harder that week to cover for a co-worker who loves it.

          1. Avril Ludgateau*

            I suspect they may be confused about the impassioned hatred for Halloween. I’m curious, too. I understand being indifferent to a holiday or perhaps mildly peeved by revelers, but I wonder what happened to engender such seething ire.

            I know where I grew up it was not uncommon for teenagers to engage in acts of petty vandalism and miscellaneous hooliganism on the night before Halloween. I could see something like that being traumatizing.

            1. bookworm*

              I’m not as passionate about my anti-Halloween sentiment as infopubs, but it does get on my nerves in more than a mildly peeved way. I find the obligation/pressure to spend time and money on a costume I’ll only wear once exhausting. I really don’t like gory lawn displays and get really irritated about having to walk past depictions of gruesome types of death that strike too close to home. It bothers me that Halloween prep seems to start earlier and earlier and takes over my favorite time of year just from an outside weather and natural beauty. I think it can also bring out the same kind of cruel sense of humor in some people as April Fools, my other least favorite holiday. I don’t begrudge anyone else (including OP!) their enjoyment of Halloween and taking time off to enjoy it at all, and genuinely enjoy children and pets in costume. I just resent feeling conscripted into Halloween celebrations in order for other adults to have fun.

            2. Grilledcheeser*

              My hatred for it came late in life (though growing up near Detroit meant Oct 30th was very scary and I hated that fear). My parents died just after Halloween. So, a month of ghosts, skeletons, zombies, graveyards etc is …. not nice. I loath the holiday. It isn’t the holiday’s fault, it isn’t my friends’ or coworkers’ faults. It just sucks.

              1. Avril Ludgateau*

                Shoot, Grilledcheeser. I’m really sorry. I understand that, for sure. I have a friend who used to love and now loathes the Christmas + New Year’s season, for example, because they lost multiple loved ones around that time over the years. The joy has been sucked right out of the holiday by the sorrow of the timing, and it’s now a time associated with death and misfortune.

                My condolences for your losses.

    3. Daisy-dog*

      Sadly, I don’t think it’s a coverage issue. I think it’s been designated as the due date for the main project. Kinda like finals week. And because LW has already had the PTO days approved, they are able to keep those days off and do more work ahead of time. But LW fears that this may become the new standard finals week which means no more spooky season unless they quit and go somewhere else.

      I do hope LW is able to convince the boss and get the due date rescheduled next year!

    4. Hudson*

      I was going to say, upon first read I didn’t understand LW’s Halloween passion and caught myself thinking “ok but it’s just Halloween.” But when LW mentioned that asking her to work Halloween would be like asking Buddy the Elf to work Christmas, any judgment or confusion went away! I personally don’t really care about Halloween, but a job that asked me to come in on Christmas? It would be a dealbreaker! And not even for religious reasons, for all the fun things I do in that season. I’m so glad Alison printed this letter with such a great response, it’s a reminder that we all have different values and joys in life that are worthy of respect.

  5. Roscoe*

    I agree with Alison, but I can also completely see some managers (even rational ones) being upset by this.

    Not that its exactly the same, but I take a day off for March Madness every year. Me and friends go to a bar, drink, and watch basketball. Its great. That said, I’d never TELL management that is why I’m taking off. Even if I have the days and its not really impacting others, hearing that someone took off solely to drink and watch basketball wouldn’t be “good” in some people’s eyes. Sometimes I think its better to be vague as much as possible. However, since it seems like it may be a yearly thing, I think framing it as you and your husband take time off for your anniversary each year may be a better way to go. Should it matter? Absolutely not. But I think people are a bit more foregiving of those things (not that you need forgiveness)

    1. Jennifer*

      I have things that others may find a bit silly that I like to take time off for as well, I think most people do, but I’d never get detailed about it.

      I take a day off to get my hair braided every couple months because going to a salon on a Saturday is a nightmare but I just say I have an appointment and need the day off. Framing it as a wedding anniversary is probably the best idea.

      1. Aggretsuko*

        I take a half day to go to a local festival (pre-Covid) and another day off to go to one a few hours away. Everyone knows I do it and they don’t mind, but it also isn’t during a busy time of the year that I am doing this.

    2. Excel Jedi*

      I don’t know….I absolutely would not want to work for someone who was ok with me taking off for things they like, but not ok letting me choose which days/traditions are important to me. If I had any choice in the matter, someone judging me over taking off every year for Halloween, March Madness, or (in my case) NY ComicCon every fall would be a huge red flag and an indication that I should brush off my resume and start applying.

      1. Roscoe*

        I mean, no, its not ideal. But very rarely do we work with the perfect manager for our situations. Managers are human, and like all of us, have biases. I can’t pretend I haven’t heard things people took a day off work for and silently rolled my eyes.

        And all I’m saying is that its much easier to be vague or to use a more widely accepted reason, like celebrating an anniversary. I mean, if I just want to sit at home and do nothing, that is valid too. But so often, employers ask for reasons why you are requesting off.

        Even as we have seen on this site, even things like having kids changes perception. If an adult wants to take off to take their kid Trick or Treating, its often much more acceptable than if a childless adult wants to take off to throw a party.

        1. JimmyJab*

          Just offering a different perspective, I have NEVER heard a reason for a day off and thought anything about it other than, that person will be away that/those days. I’m sitting here trying to think of a reason and the only one that comes to mind is something I find heinous, like attending a riot to invade the capital and kill the VP.

          1. Rusty Shackelford*

            It’s actually pretty common to give a reason when you need time off during a period when people normally aren’t able to take time off. I don’t know why you can’t imagine it.

            1. EchoGirl*

              I think JimmyJab means they can’t imagine passing judgment on whether a reason is “good enough”, not that they can’t imagine being told a reason.

          2. Jennifer*

            Well, that’s a bit extreme but as Roscoe said, we’re all human and we all have biases. If someone is taking a day off for something that a coworker or management feels is trivial or a bit weird during a critical time at the company and they have to cover for them, it can cause them to have a negative viewpoint of the OP.

            Plus if you’re requesting time off during an ‘all hands on deck’ period at work, they may ask for the reason to justify approving the request.

          3. Hil*

            If this is a very busy time of year/the busiest time of year people are going to expect actual reasons for wanting to use PTO in a way that they wouldn’t otherwise. It might not raise an eyebrow during a slow time but if it’s the busy period it makes sense you want to have a reason that sounds good.

        2. Collate*

          The difference is in how/if the manager expresses disapproval of their time off to the employee. If an employer decides only to let an employee use their time off for activities that the employer finds acceptable, that’s a red flag. If a person wants to internally roll their eyes but still approves the time off that’s their prerogative.

          1. PhyllisB*

            I remember a letter here some time back where someone wanted time off to participate in a video game tournament/conference (can’t remember exact details) and her boss refused to approve it because he didn’t approve. So maybe it’s better not to give a reason if you don’t have to. (Or make one up!!)

            1. Ace in the Hole*

              Yup. Is there a chance my manager would be fine with me saying I need a weekend off to go to a furry convention? Sure. Is it something I want to risk, especially knowing there’s a very good chance it will negatively impact how people perceive me professionally? Nope!

    3. Paranonymous*

      Yes, I would frame it as an anniversary but if OP is inclined to give more details she can always explain that they had a Halloween themed wedding and therefore do Halloween things to celebrate. I think that would make it look less silly to people who take issue with this. (I do agree that this shouldn’t be necessary!)

      1. Ashloo*

        This is definitely going to land better, I think. It’s not fair, but I think it’s true that OP will recieve more understanding if she uses her anniversary day/week as her time off hill to die on instead of solely the holiday.

    4. KaciHall*

      When I have days available, I take off the first two days of the tourney (not the play in games, the real ones. ) in past years, I’ve pulled in my bedroom TV and living room TV and set up my laptop so I can have 3 games on at once (which won’t work in my new house, the tvs are wall mounted. Ugh, 4 months to plan an alternative.) I never straight up say that’s what I’m using PTO for, but most people have figured out and I don’t deny it.

      It’s harder with a small kid, though. A decent chunk of my PTO goes to staying home with him.

    5. Gan Ainm*

      I agree. If it were me I personally would feel more comfortable (and confident) requesting the time off for an “annual anniversary trip”… it could raise the question of why you can’t just push it out a week, but I think relying on the rest of the answer Alison gave about you confirming this wasn’t a busy time during the interview process, etc, would help. But I’m not someone who is very comfortable standing out for good or for bad, so you might be fine telling her the real reason.

    6. Cold Fish*

      Yeah, as I was reading the letter I was thinking “Can she frame it as taking time off for her anniversary?” and I noticed Alison also mentioned the anniversary as the excuse at the end of her response. I think she could also get away with using the volunteer time, if she doesn’t get too specific. Something like “I have standing volunteer positions the last week of October. I’ve been volunteering for years and they really rely on me.” I used to work with a gal who volunteered at a spay clinic; twice a year she would take off two days. No one ever had any problems with it. And those days weren’t even set, like the last week of October.

      1. Rusty Shackelford*

        Honestly, given the circumstances, I’d think “can’t you just take your anniversary trip one week later?” I just don’t know anyone who treats their anniversary as a holiday that way.

        1. PT*

          We had an issue with this where I worked. My work provided activities for kids when schools were closed. One of my coworkers in my department married to a teacher. This meant any time *she* was off, *he* was all hands on deck.

          They got a special dispensation to schedule their wedding during one of our hell weeks when no one was allowed to take vacation and then they did an anniversary trip the following year, at which point he was told he would not be approved for any PTO that week ever again so do not even think about it.

        2. Archaeopteryx*

          We both take off our anniversary every year. Usually just the one day, but for milestones we’re planning on a week.

        3. Aj Crowley*

          My spouse and I treat our wedding anniversary as a holiday. It pained me to have to decide to take a rare week-long training opportunity (that was both personal and professional) that would require me to leave early on our anniversary day. Well… that was in 2020 and our anniversary is mid March. We got to spend the day together.

          We were engaged for many years before it was legal to marry so that might influence our reverence for our a-day. We fought damn hard to marry. It feels like a much larger celebration than just us.

        4. Avril Ludgateau*

          I may be in the minority here, but my job is always, ALWAYS secondary to my personal life. My job is a means to an end, where the “end” is “living the life I wish to live,” and when it starts interfering with that end, then it is time for me to reconsider the agreement.

          This means, if I have a deadline on my birthday (and I tend to schedule a vacation around my birthday), I am going to proactively plan to get that done in advance of my vacation, but my employer is going to need to concede I will not be available for the time I put in for well in advance and that I tend to take around the same time every year. I’ll have done what I’m meant to do, but no, I’m not going to reorganize my life for my employer’s arbitrary decision-making and benefit.

          My partner, my family, my self, my life… These are all way more important to me than any given project, and I think this “employer first” mentality has led to a lot of misery, exploitation, and ultimately erosion of labor/the proletariat’s standing and humanity.

    7. Seeking Second Childhood*

      “We have anniversary traditions.”
      Happy anniversary — and I hope no one rains on your spooky parade.

    8. OhNo*

      Agreed. If you can frame it in a way that most people would view it as a “good” reason to take time off, that’s always safer. It’s mostly just a perception issue – your colleagues are likely willing to put in more effort or be less resentful of your absence if they agree with the reason you’re out.

      As a data point, I ran into this a few years ago now where I took two weeks off in the middle of our busiest season for an event that was out of the country. When I initially framed it as “I’m going to an event!” my boss gave me a lecture about how ducking out during the busy season was Not A Good Look. But when I explained that, event aside, this was a literally once-in-a-lifetime chance for me to travel to this location, she understood and made it work to give me the time off. She didn’t want to put the extra load on my coworkers for an event that happens every other year, but she (and my colleagues!) were willing to make the effort for a once-in-a-lifetime trip.

    9. turquoisecow*

      I think there’s a difference between: “I want to take Halloween week off,” and “I want to take Halloween week off during a really busy period.”

      The first one, I don’t care. The second one, I’m thinking there’s going to be some bad feelings, especially if someone else gave up time off or someone else has to now be extra busy. Right or wrong, a lot of conscientious employees will not take time off during busy periods because they either feel guilty, are afraid of being seen as slackers or not team players, or just don’t want to leave their coworkers in the lurch to cover for them. “It’s my wedding anniversary and we always do something special and I don’t want to disappoint my spouse/put my marriage in danger” will get a few more sympathy points than “I want to watch spooky movies and celebrate a holiday that many adults don’t bother with or view as a kid’s thing.”

      I’m not saying OP shouldn’t take off or that she should feel bad about her plans, but don’t be surprised if this leads to some bad feelings in your coworkers, especially if they have to work harder because of it.

      1. Roscoe*

        Exactly. Its kind of like, we can live in the world as is, or how we’d like to be. And rightly or wrongly, during busy season, people are going to be much more willing to take on extra work for someone if they are more ok with what the person is doing on their day off.

        1. Avril Ludgateau*

          Its kind of like, we can live in the world as is, or how we’d like to be.

          In other words: we can remain downtrodden by the status quo, or we can challenge it and force change. For example, better planning that avoids a Sunday holiday deadline would benefit everybody, while acting like crabs in a bucket (“hey! Why does she get a thing I don’t get? I want to take that away from her!”) benefits none.

      2. Avril Ludgateau*

        Those bad feelings should be directed at the employer, not the colleagues, for poor planning of insufficient resources. It is not your colleague’s fault you didn’t get time off.

    10. Delta Delta*

      Mr. Delta Delta always takes off the Thursday and Friday of the tournament. He calls it “Basketball Day.” He gets up early (like 2 a.m.) and slow cooks a corned beef (sometimes it corresponds with St. Patricks day but sometimes not) and proceeds to eat an entire corned beef and a thirty rack of coors lights in his pajamas over the course of those two days. It’s the rule that he must at least touch every single game. He loves it. But he could not possibly care less about Christmas. We all have our holidays.

      1. Duc Anonymous*

        I joked for years that if my team ever made it to the World Series that I would not be coming to work during that time. Well, in 2016 they did and the games were going late into the night. Once game 7 hit, I didn’t come back until after the parade. It was definitely a holiday for me!

    11. r*

      Yeah, my team was in the Stanley Cup playoffs and I gave myself some days off (I was freelancing then, so it’s a nice perk). Honestly, with the emotional rollercoaster that is having a team in the playoffs, my productivity was… Suboptimal.

    12. marvin the paranoid android*

      I agree that it’s good to keep in mind that some holidays and activities have more social cachet than others. I’m also a Halloween fan, but for many people it’s considered a kids’ holiday and some coworkers might be grumpy about covering for it. For this letter writer, I would lean hard into the fact that this is their wedding anniversary because I think it’s less likely to raise eyebrows and makes sense that it’s the same time every year.

  6. many bells down*

    I want to be best friends with this letter writer. Well, I’d skip the horror movies but everything else is awesome.

    I also used to ask for October 31 off every year as it’s an important holiday for Pagans. No one minded much because I didn’t have a problem working Christmas Eve. (I stopped asking for it off because I decided it was fun to dress up at work on top of religious observances).

    1. Penny Parker*

      Back in 1984 I had just gotten a job at a pizza delivery restaurant and my co-workers and boss were discussing the upcoming Halloween shift, which was the busiest day of the year for that store. I was on the phone taking orders but was between orders and turned around saying, “I absolutely cannot work that day.” They all reacted with quite a bit of surprise and the boss snottily asked me why. I told him, “It is my main religious holiday.” Few people even knew about Wicca back in 1984. But I did get the day off after explaining a bit and offering to work any other holidays, especially the Xtian ones.

    2. Thin Mints didn't make me thin*

      I too have taken off for Samhain in the past, and usually the next day too because the celebrations went on past midnight. I’m always available to work Thanksgiving, Christmas, Easter, Mother’s Day and other holidays that don’t apply to me.

  7. The Smiling Pug*

    Alison, this is such a good response! LW, please don’t let anyone take away your love for Halloween. :)

  8. Wilbur*

    I feel like you skipped over the Daylights Savings time thing. Are there traditions or something that I’m missing about this day?

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      No, I just love that day — fall and winter are my favorites, and it’s a signal that they are coming, and I love that it’s getting darker out earlier and I get to sleep in an extra hour the next day … I just love it and find it cozy.

      1. Pam Adams*

        Depending on where the international trip was, you might have gotten a day back as well as an hour!

        1. Marion Ravenwood*

          On a related note to this, one of my personal traditions is to take the 6th December off every year if I can. The reason being that I didn’t have a 6th December 2012 – I was backpacking round the world, and due to the international date line I left Chile on the 5th December and arrived in New Zealand on the 7th – so now I see that as my ‘lost’ day, hence it’s become a mini holiday of sorts for me. If I’m not working that day, I usually use it to do various fun Christmas-related things like writing cards, watching films, buying presents etc, or just to treat myself to something like a visit to a museum exhibition and a nice lunch out. It feels like a very indulgent thing to do but especially around that time of year it’s lovely to have a little break, and I actually really enjoy it!

          1. Cold Fish*

            I didn’t have a 30th birthday :) I was traveling. Woke up the day before my birthday and arrived (less than 24 hrs later) the day after my birthday.

            I really like the end of Daylight Savings too! I’m still upset that they screwed around with the dates a few years ago and shortened Standard Time. I know most people love to leave work when there is light but I have a short commute and love being safe and snug at home when it’s dark outside. Fiddling around in the kitchen or snuggling up on the couch to watch TV. It just feels different when it is still light out.

            1. Slow Gin Lizz*

              Wow, so weird and neat that you didn’t have a 30th birthday. My mom crossed the int’l date line on the day Nixon was inaugurated so she never considered him to really be POTUS since that day didn’t exist for her.

              1. Slow Gin Lizz*

                Also one year my dad’s birthday was on the day DST started so he lost an hour of his birthday. That fall a family friend’s birthday was on the day DST ended so he got the extra hour of my dad’s birthday!

                1. allathian*

                  When I was a student, I worked in a fast-food joint with a night shift. One year I worked the day DST started and worked for 7 hours but got paid for 8. Usually they tried to schedule people who worked when DST started to also work when it ended, when they’d work for 9 hours and only get paid for 8. But I quit that summer.

          2. The Gollux, Not a Mere Device*

            Happy St. Lucia Day!

            One of my Scandasotan friends told me about this: there are special holiday baked goods for December 6th.

            1. Marion Ravenwood*

              Thank you for this! I’ll take any excuse to do a bit of baking so will have to look those up for this year :)

          3. Ladybird*

            This is one of the best things I’ve heard for ages.
            I will be thinking of you this December 6th and the thought will make me smile.

      2. Yessica Haircut*

        You know, I had never considered this perspective before. I think biking to work for a few years (unfortunately not something I’m able to do anymore in my current city) gave me negative associations with losing that evening hour of daylight, since I always would feel a little less safe biking in the dark. But I’d like to be able to frame the end of DST more positively. Maybe this year I’ll try to embrace the coziness!

      3. Properlike*

        This is lovely and I will now also adopt it as my tradition. October is my absolutely favorite month of the year, with November a close second. Maybe it’s the night owl/vampire in me.

      4. Tuesday*

        That’s funny – in the open thread this weekend, I asked for ideas for brightening up this terrible, dark day! I’m going to work on reframing fall and winter in my head as “cozy” instead of dark, damp, cold, oppressive…

        I did buy some string lights this weekend to get me started! And I do like the extra hour.

          1. Might Be Spam*

            I do that and burn a few candles to get the fire scent. It’s great on a cold and overcast day with the wind howling outside. Add a heated throw blanket and I’m as happy as can be.

        1. PT*

          TBH, this might be entirely a function of where everyone lives. The weather in the fall across the US isn’t uniform- the South really sparkles in October and November once the heat breaks, the West Coast can get summery-warm all the way through Christmas some years, but the Northeast alternates between “gorgeous and crisp” and “damp and freezing” pretty consistently. Plus depending how far North/South you are or East/West you are in your time zone, your sunrise/sunset times will vary drastically.

        2. Third or Nothing!*

          I’m not particularly fond of it either! I’m a runner, so less daylight means more danger for me. Even with lots of lighted gear on to increase visibility to traffic and headlamps to light my path, I still become more prone to trips and falls, so it’s not as safe for me as daytime running.

          I like the idea of reframing Fall and Winter as cozy. I do love a nice fire in the fireplace and fuzzy socks and flannel pajama pants and a warm cup of tea.

      5. Paris Geller*

        Now I want a weekend thread where we discuss our favorite holidays beside the usual Thanksgiving & Christmas.

        This LW sounds like me with New Year’s. I LOVE New Year’s Eve & Day, it’s my favorite holiday. When I can I try to take at least New Year’s Eve and the day after new year off, if not the whole week.

        1. Gracely*

          This is how I feel about Shark Week. I don’t always do it, but when I can, I will take the last couple of days of the work week off and binge all the new specials while surrounded by my various stuffed sharks.

          1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

            I encourage you to try to find the song “Chomp Chomp” by Marian Call – an anthem for Shark Week. :)

          2. miss chevious*

            For a second I thought you were using Shark Week colloquially to mean your period, and I was really loving that (a) you celebrated that way and (b) you had the ability to use your PTO that way from your employer.

            I still love the idea, even though I understand your meaning now. :)

      6. Slow Gin Lizz*

        I suspected this might be true, Alison. I am 100% the exact opposite as you and the day Daylight Savings starts is my favorite day of the year. The day it ends is my least favorite, no joke.

      7. halfwolf*

        this is such a delightful personal detail and i’m so glad you had an opportunity to share it!

    2. Jessica*

      When I was in college, my roommate once celebrated by holding a one-hour-long party from 1 am to 1 am. I thought it was pretty awesome.

      1. autumn*

        I LOVE YOUR ROOMMATE. I’ve fantasized about having this party, except I chime a bell at 1 a.m. (the first one, though I thought it was 2 a.m.?) to alert everyone that the hour is to be repeated. Then, for the next hour, everyone parties as usual. Then, an hour later, I chime the bell again. Everyone tries to replicate their past hour, except they’re drunker.

        This is SPLENDID in my head and probably not as much fun in real life, so I haven’t done it.


      2. Whynot*

        If you ever want to bookend the time changes with parties, a friend of mine once threw a great party for the springtime switch to DST: an alien abduction party, to tie in with the “lost” hour. It was a costume party, and my bestie went as Amelia Earhart; there were also plenty of Men in Black and various aliens running about.

      3. Seven hobbits are highly effective, people*

        When I was in college, my friends and I used to hang out on ICQ and watch our computer clocks change for the time change at 2 am (both spring and fall).

        We…weren’t really “party” people.

        1. it's just the frame of mind*

          You sound like a very fun person, except probably people don’t always recognize the fun when you’re having it :D

  9. KHB*

    “(Hell, I once planned an international trip around making sure I would be home for the end of Daylight Savings Time because I like that day so much.)”

    I didn’t plan it specifically for this purpose, but once because of an international trip I got to experience the end of DST twice. The clocks change in the UK the last Sunday in October, and in the US the first Sunday in November, and I flew home during the week in between.

    1. Aspiring Chicken Lady*

      Last year my Twitter feed was so skewed to UK, and I was so slammed with WFH overtime that I actually thought we had moved clocks for days before I figured out that it was different on either side of the pond. Luckily most of my clocks were many hours off because of random power outages that I couldn’t be bothered about, so I just believed whatever my computer said and got to work.

  10. Oregongirl*

    This is really no different than asking for a religious day off. Most religious observant people would expect they could have their religious holidays days off. This is essentially the same thing. I guess unless you are also request many religious days off as well.

    1. Lych*

      I partially agree with you, but I also think it matters that OP wants to take up to two weeks off, instead of just the one day.

      1. Beany*

        OP said that they’d “often take off the last week of October, sometimes two for Spooky Season”, but that was before they started this job (perhaps the previous job was much more flexible). In this case they’d only requested two *days* of PTO this year, and it doesn’t sound like their demands for future years are going to be more than that.

    2. SpaceySteph*

      Its slightly different in that religion is protected by the EEOC and “I really like Halloween” is not. Which is not to minimize the OP’s perspective, but in the US at least we hold religious obligations to a higher standard than hobbies.

      1. Sloan Kittering*

        I agree. It’s not like a religious thing because that gets a special exception in a lot of workplace laws. There might be a religious angle if OP identified as Wiccan or something (speaking out of ignorance here) but that’s not how OP has framed it and it makes no sense to approach it that way, IMO. It’s more like wanting to take your birthday off, or the superbowl – we get to decide how much we care about those and pursue our own priorities but it’s going to be going against the flow a little. Which is fine! It’s doable.

        1. James*

          “There might be a religious angle if OP identified as Wiccan or something (speaking out of ignorance here)…”

          Your comment prompted me to look into what faiths have late-October holy days. It’s a fairly typical time to have them in the northern hemisphere, as it’s harvest time, a MAJOR event it ancient cultures, Stonehenge was built in part to help with this sort of thing, so you’d think it would crop up in a number of them. I was curious to see what other religions celebrate this time of year–I grew up Roman Catholic and am familiar with All Saints Day, and am now pagan, which celebrates Samhain on Oct. 31, but that’s the extent of my knowledge.

          Oddly, neither Wicca nor paganism are on any interfaith calendar I have found. Islam, Hebrew, Christianity, and several religions common in India are listed, but not these. Nor are any Native American celebrations, any African holy days, or anything from Asia (I’m not sure if Taoism has holy days, honestly, so that may not be an oversight). I didn’t do an exhaustive search, but enough of one to realize that yeah, we’ve got a long way to go–despite increased awareness of minority religions we’re still not represented in these discussions.

          1. Mameshiba*

            For Asia, I would expect to see holy days from major world religions like Buddhism and Hinduism, as well as major holidays for each country like calendar New Years, Chinese/Lunar New Year, ancestor veneration holidays in late summer, each country’s national day, etc.

            1. James*

              I believe some of the holy days on the calendars I saw are various sects of Hinduism–they’re names I’ve seen associated with Hinduism before. (Among other things I’ve read a good chunk of the Harvard 5 Foot Shelf, which included the Bhagavad Gita and Koran, which shows just how far our country has fallen from its foundational ideals.) As I understand it–and I make no pretenses at being an expert–there is a fair amount of regional variation in beliefs in India, under the umbrella of Hinduism and Buddhism.

              I’m a bit surprised that the lunar calendar isn’t included. As you say, Chinese culture uses it to celebrate its ceremonies (to the extent they can, given the current political climate there), and it’s surprising that the celebrations of a superpower and a trade partner are not included. But in addition Europeans used it as well. The British Royal Navy for ages paid sailors on lunar months, for example. I also know a number of men who refuse to put up fences in a waning moon, and the lunar phases are part of every farmer’s almanac I’ve seen.

              I do find ancestor worship in the summer both surprising and, somehow, fitting. I was born on Litha, and my family has a tradition of naming children after our ancestors. Thank you for sharing that.

        2. Geooo*

          +1 those with sincerely held religious beliefs are oftentimes denied the time off to properly celebrate or remember their high holidays because it causes too much of a business interruption, undue hardship on the company. Doesn’t appear this is a religious accommodation request though.

          If Halloween is so important to OP yes definitely ask for it off and explain that it’s important. Maybe it won’t be a big deal to the project if they can plan ahead each year.

    3. LizM*

      Respectfully, given the pushback that many religious minorities feel when they try to take their holy days off of work, I don’t think it’s essentially the same.

      OP should absolutely get to choose what’s important when planning her annual leave. But companies’ inflexibility around granting time off for religious observances is rooted in a lack of recognition that their religious practices are as legitimate as mainstream religious practices. (i.e. no school events are scheduled on Sunday, Christmas is a national holiday, many schools have spring break scheduled around Easter).

      (This is assuming their is not a religious component to OP’s celebration, which she does not indicate in her letter).

      1. Black Horse Dancing*

        Sincerely held beliefs are basically all religions are–OP absolutely should have the same right as anyone with a religion. (I know that is still argued about in the USA but really, anyone’s sincerely held beliefs should be given credence.)

        1. Anononon*

          I mean, no, that’s not really a logical path to go down, at least in terms of religious discrimination/rights in the USA. There’s just something really icky to me about comparing OP’s love of Halloween (where it seems clear from the letter it’s not religious-based) with someone’s religious beliefs.

          1. James*

            Fully agree. People are still afraid of being openly pagan, Wiccan, or members of other minority religions in this country (I’ve discussed this with pagans and Wiccans, so that’s what I know best). They are afraid of being physically attacked, of losing custody of their children, of losing their jobs and homes, because of their religion. It’s not just icky to appropriate the holidays of these people to get some time off, it’s belittling these people and turning their religion into a joke.

            None of that relates to what the OP says they’re doing in the letter. There’s no issue, far as I can tell, with celebrating the secular side of Halloween the way the OP does. In fact, I love it–I’m a kindred spirit, as the bones and skulls on my desk demonstrate!

        2. Loosey Goosey*

          What is OP’s sincerely held belief? That Halloween is awesome? It’s just not the same as a religious observance, which may very well be an obligation (to the religious person) and not a preference, even a very strong preference. If push came to shove, my religion requires that I quit my job rather than work on a holiday that forbids work. Minority faiths have enough trouble being recognized and accommodated in modern America; it’s not cool to try and collapse religious belief into hobby.

            1. James*

              By a certain definition set theory, number theory, and the theory of evolution are just beliefs. Color theory as well. Sure, I can show you evolution in action–I can show you bacteria evolving to handle increasing levels of antibiotics, creating a physical cladogram–but ultimately that just says that my belief in evolution has evidence to support it. It is still JUST a belief.

              The issue is, there are different categories of beliefs. Scientific theories are one category. Mathematical theorems are another. Aesthetics are another. Culture is a belief, and therefore so is language–one of the first things I learned about constructed languages is that language and culture cannot be meaningfully separated.

              Religion is different from these for a very significant reason: People were routinely put to death because of accusations of heresy in the past. See the court documents related to the Knights Templar for an example of how this works (I’ve read a few translations of them). There are people who have told me that they would gladly murder me in cold blood were it not for laws preventing it–I am a heretic, an apostate, an Evolutionist, and have practiced witchcraft, and in their view deserve to die for any one of those sins. No one’s going to kill you if you think that a^2+b^2=c^3; they will gladly murder you for worshiping the wrong gods. The Founding Fathers, for all their faults, recognized the tremendous moral hazard this presented and at the very least laid the foundations for a society where people were allowed to believe what they would. And our country is moving–haltingly, and with many errors, but still moving–towards recognizing this.

              THAT is why religious exemptions for various things exist–because to do otherwise puts those of us who do not swim with the mainstream in real, objective, immediate danger. (The cynic in me also argues that this is a way to identify the heretics, but that’s a separate issue). And that’s why it’s objectively immoral to present a love for the secular trappings of a holiday as on par with a religious belief. No one’s going to literally kill you for decorating for Halloween. People will for worshiping the wrong gods.

              As in other comments, I will say: I think the OP is awesome for her over-the-top love of Halloween, and I would fight tooth and nail for the OP to have that time off. The OP has done nothing even remotely wrong here, and I would argue that they are doing things which, by any reasonable measure, would qualify as actively morally good. My objection is solely with the idea that religious beliefs are JUST beliefs, whatever that means.

          1. Geoo*

            no… religion is not just a belief. That’s a bit too minimalistic. It’s a faith, way of thinking, mentality, sometimes / oftentimes there is a cultural or historical component, set of group behaviors, traditions, established holidays, and yes also beliefs. To say it’s only about beliefs is minimizing the reality of religion. A little kid believes in the Tooth Fairy… doesn’t alone imply that alone is a religion.

            1. allathian*

              I’m in a traditionally Lutheran country, and we celebrate Christmas on the Eve, often with Santa visiting families and handing out presents (college students/young adults can make a lot of money in a few hours by dressing up as Santa and visiting families to hand out presents). When I was 4, my uncle dressed up as Santa Claus in one of those horrid 1970s rubber/plastic masks, but didn’t try to disguise his voice, so I recognized him and proceeded to scream the house down, until he had to take off his mask. That killed my belief in Santa Claus (and probably also triggered my clown phobia). My grandpa died the following summer, and as a 5 year old who didn’t know any better, I asked my very devout grandma what the difference was between believing in Santa Claus and believing in Jesus. I can’t remember what she answered, but I do know that I still haven’t heard a satisfactory answer to that question, and I can’t honestly see a difference between the two. Sorry if this offends anyone with a profound religious belief, but that’s the way I feel.

              1. Geooo*

                Ok well, for one… Lutherans (if a Christian denomination) do not worship Santa as one of their faith practices, but they worship Jesus.

              2. James*

                It’s fine that you feel that way. I even get it; I was an atheist for a while, until some events occurred that changed my mind. You’re allowed to believe what you want. That’s not the issue.

                The issue is that love of the secular holiday is not the same as a religious belief. These are in fact two distinct things. Haunted houses, decorations, scary movies, and the like have nothing to do with the religions that celebrate a holy day on that day. To say they are the same is false. And it belittles both sides. The OP doesn’t need to pretend anything; they are allowed to say “I enjoy this, therefore I will do this, if that’s a deal breaker that’s fine by me”. And it’s simply insulting to religions to turn their beliefs into an excuse to knock off work early, especially minority religions that are still struggling to get recognized.

                Claiming a religious reason in this instance (unless the OP has stated one and I missed it) is the equivalent of claiming that one has cancer in order to get off work. It’s a lie, it perpetuates the belief that you need some reason that’s “good enough” to engage in self-care, and it’s demeaning to those who are actually in the condition you claim to be in.

        3. SpaceySteph*

          There’s an argument to be made here that they should be treated equivalently, but the current law doesn’t support it. Liking Halloween is not the same as observing a religious holiday (unless as discussed above you are from a religion that sees Halloween as a religious holiday) in the eyes of US employment law which is what we’re discussing here.

          OP will look extremely out of touch if they attempt to frame this in this way.

      2. fueled by coffee*


        As someone whose religious beliefs also mean I have to take off several days in October, this really stresses me out. I go through so much anxiety about the stress I’m putting my team under, being inflexible when there are major projects, trying to get all my work done in time, etc., so that I’m *not* seen as someone who is just taking off because I feel like it. I’ve gotten passive aggressive comments from employers and coworkers about this before, and sometimes have had to come in on holidays anyway because I got a cold one week and ran out of sick days to spend on my religious observances.

        OP’s claim feels more like someone who finds it really important to take off for a birthday/anniversary/family reunion every year. These things are important and might be non-negotiables that would make OP consider changing jobs. And OP is certainly entitled to use her PTO however she wants, and it is pretty crappy that she was assured that October was a slow period and now that is no longer the case!

        But as someone who has broken my religious traditions to show up to work on holidays so I didn’t get fired (but good luck asking anyone to do any work on December 23rd, how dare you ruin the holiday spirit), please don’t compare this to being a religious minority in this country.

  11. Hare under the moon with a silver spoon*

    When you do have a convo you could also frame it around your anniversary rather than halloween particularly.

    Not that there’s anything wrong with Halloween but sometimes its easier to almost “translate” into things understood even in the most staid of workplaces until you really get a feeling for what is the culture.

    And enjoy Halloween!

    1. Hare under the moon with a silver spoon*

      and just reread the last para in the answer to see Alison already said in so many words!

    2. CmdrShepard*

      I don’t know if anniversary would be any better, in terms of what people would consider reasonable.
      It seems OP is willing to leave this and any other job over this, so they should be honest so the job can show their true colors and let OP decide if they need to find a different job.

      1. Cold Fish*

        At first I was leaning toward the anniversary or volunteering as good excuses but I think I agree with you more. If OP feels that strongly she should just be honest. If they give her a hard time about it, what is the worst that could happen? She is already willing to quit to have the day off. At least if she is honest, she won’t have to remember what excuse she went with next year.

        I don’t know if I would wait until yearly review though. That could be too long and I’d wonder why it hadn’t been brought up before; even if OP inquired about October during the interview. And I get where Alison was going with the wait a couple of months for things (and memories) to settle down from this years big project. The beginning of the year would be a good time. However, I can also see doing it Nov 1st. Memories will still be really sharp but giving OP is asking an entire year ahead of time may add emphasis to how important OP takes this time off.

      2. Sloan Kittering*

        Sadly I think anniversary would fly better, which annoys me as a single person, but here we are.

        1. it's just the frame of mind*

          Maybe you can avoid specifying just what anniversary you’re celebrating: “This is the 40th anniversary of the first time I experienced October 31st…”

        2. CmdrShepard*

          Maybe it is just me, but I would understand wanting off for Halloween you can’t really move that over an anniversary. If you offer random unknown kids candy and ask them to come to your door on any day other than Halloween you will likely have the cops called on you. But a bday/anniversary can be celebrated literally any other day.

          If a coworker said we need to move around a big project around their anniversary, I would think they were being a bit eccentric/rigid. Like you can’t celebrate your bday/anniversary one week later after the busy time has passed.

          But my partner and I prefer to celebrate valentines day at home and go out for a nice valentines day dinner a few days after to avoid the crowds.

      3. AutolycusinExile*

        Honestly, I’d personally avoid mentioning both Halloween and the anniversary. I’d bring this up in January and phrase it as putting in PTO for “a standing obligation on the last day of October”. That neatly sidesteps potential criticism for either reason while also implying that it’s kind of unavoidable. If they press for more details you can say it’s family-related (spouse = family, after all), and that would be when I’d mention that you asked about it in the interview (as a subtle reminder that you’ve been planning ahead and aren’t springing the request on the last-minute). I think of it similarly to calling in sick; less is more.

  12. Hen*

    The headline on this one made me happy. I’d just say you can’t work that week because it’s your anniversary!

    1. RagingADHD*

      The optics issue would still be relevant. Taking a week off for your anniversary every year is pretty unusual.

  13. zebra*

    I agree, this spooky season sounds super fun, and if this is the only time you take a significant amount of PTO, you should keep doing it! But I do agree with Alison’s suggestion of being a bit more vague about it and emphasizing the more traditional aspect like your anniversary. As awesome as your traditions sound, there will definitely be some people who hear the word “Halloween” and will automatically correlate that with childishness, especially as your message gets diluted and passed around the office second- and third-hand and some of your more peripheral colleagues only hear a little bit of the story.

    I think your best bet is to focus on the anniversary factor and just explain that you have a family tradition of taking time off the week of your anniversary, which is at the end of October, and it’s very important to you. And if you are willing to work around Thanksgiving and Christmas, I think you should wait until January to bring it up, so you can say that you have happily worked the more popular holiday periods and are willing to do the same again next year if you can manage to take your October time off.

  14. emeemay*

    I agree with everyone else that you shouldn’t have to defend yourself re: WHY you want that time off – but office politics and general people peopling as it is, you could 100% lean hard on the anniversary, because that’s something most people WILL respect and work harder to allow you to take off!

    Unrelated but I desperately want to see photos of your house! I bet it’s amazing <3

  15. quill*

    I eat a pumpkin spiced candy coated almond in your honor, OP.

    (seriously what is it with these things? They’re delicious.)

  16. I WORKED on a Hellmouth*

    LW, you are awesome and I hope your Halloweens are forever spooky and joyous, and your boss just gets the date on the project moved. I also want to be besties and talk Halloween goodness and Shudder recommendations and if you’ve been hitting up their Horror Hotline this month, because again, you are awesome.

      1. I WORKED on a Hellmouth*

        YES YES YES. My boyfriend and I went into that one blind on a whim last October, and were utterly delighted by it!

  17. badspellingmgr*

    I got married during Sturgis bike rally and take off every year around the similar motorcycle time frame to do a similar trip. It’s part of my essence and my company and team know it. They’ve moved deliverable dates because it’s at an important time or similar. There is nothing wrong with stating it’s important to you.

    I would think any healthy company would get it. I would do the same: As a manager I always figure out what’s important for my people and treat them as I would want to be treated.

    If I was your manager I would have it on my calendar that you love Halloween and set a reminder to send you a happy Halloween card. Be you, and be fabulous.

    1. Wine Not Whine*

      Yup. I belong to an international history group that has a huge two-week-long encampment in August every year. (Often upwards of 10K people in attendance for some portion of the two weeks.) There are thousands of people who block that time off on the calendar every year, and give up other holidays to do it.
      We all have that thing, whatever it is, that’s important to us, whether it’s a holiday or a gathering or some other event. As long as you plan and communicate in advance and hold up your end of the work for the rest of the year, no one has any room to complain just because your interest is different from theirs.

    2. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      I take a week off around the Fourth of July every year to go to Disneyworld with my dad for his birthday, which is within a couple days. (We call it Rodneypalooza.) Stay gold :)

    3. SomebodyElse*

      Will jump in here to add… same here, because you made the first and second point I was going to make.

      Got married on a “B-list” holiday (maybe even a “C-list”). Since then it’s been non-negotiable that I take that day off. I had to have an uncomfortable conversation with an old boss who informed me we had auditors from 1/2 way across the world on that day and the next. Suffice to say, they covered very little the first day without me and I spent the next day figuratively locked in a room with 3 auditors … on my own… for 10+ hours. Trust me, I’m not covered in glory with the day I take off (but it’s lots of fun!)

      I now use this as my example whenever I get a new team. In my first ‘get to know you chat’ with each team member I always ask if there’s anything they think I should know. I realized the first time I asked this that it came across as a scary question (oops!), so I follow up quickly with “For example I always take “X” day off. I’ve received a lot of valuable information with this question, including their every year off day(s), which I wouldn’t have known otherwise. It’s not only days off, I’ll learn about family commitments, work habits and preferences, and so on. But it is helpful to know that Fergus always takes Arbor Day off so I can plan around it.

    4. Lizzo*

      We have a similar family obligation for 10 days each summer (think: family trip that centers around a public event), and while it has yet to conflict with a work event, I know that if it did we (boss and I) would find a way to make it work. On the flipside, I am very flexible about many other times of year that are more traditional times for folks to be on vacation or offline to be with family, and my boss knows that I’m happy to pitch in at those times so that they or other folks can take the time off. Give a little, get a little.

  18. Essentially Cheesy*

    I think I would have a harder time working on a Sunday more than working on Halloween but that just drives home the point that different people have different special days. Does this employer regularly require Sundays? This would be a problem .. not only religiously for me, but just on a level of having weekend days off.

    LW I hope you discuss this with your manager and work out something reasonable, especially if this is something they plan on doing as an annual project thing.

    1. generic_username*

      I was thinking the same thing. I’m not religious, but I would be annoyed to be required to work on the weekend. I make plans for my weekends months out sometimes and am generally always busy. I’d be okay if occasionally things got busy and I had to work a weekend to get something done (and when I say occasionally, I mean less than twice a year). But to plan a large project to finish on a Sunday??? You’re basically asking people to wait til that week and to do most of the project over the weekend.

    2. Daisy-dog*

      I think the Sunday work might just be a final push to ensure the project is completed before month-end. And they may be requesting people be available as a just-in-case measure.

      Though I know I would absolutely need a day or 2 to recover after that and could not work for a normal week after that.

  19. What's in a name?*

    Can you ask if the busy season can be changed? It sounds like it was flexible and this was the first time it was at the end of October. Cite other lessons learned and maybe lean on how it weighs for you and your anniversary.

    Middle to end of September is usually pretty empty.

    1. Detective Amy Santiago*

      I think OP will sound very entitled if they ask for the busy season to be changed for them – especially when they’ve been there six months.

      The better approach, in my opinion, would be to point out that they asked if October was typically busy because it’s generally when they take their time off and were told it wasn’t and ask what happened to change this. I would also avoid mentioning being a Halloween nut, because despite how awesome all the commenters here think it is, there are going to be plenty of people who would judge OP for this.

      1. phira*

        Agreed. Also wherever the busy season gets moved, it’s going to cause problems for some other employee. Like the suggestion to move the busy season to September would conflict with High Holy Days.

    2. FG*

      September may not be busy for some folks, but it can be super-busy for others, esp if Sept 30 is the end of your fiscal year. Even then, it’s the end of the quarter.

    3. Spicy Nonprofit Iconoclast*

      The work calendar is generally created around people with kids. As childless queers in our late 30s, we don’t like to vacation in the summer (in part because we live in a cold climate and want to enjoy nice weather at home).

      But, little group work gets done in either of our offices between July 1 and Labor Day because of everyone’s family vacations. Then, everything get so busy from mid-Sept through Thanksgiving. Then Jan through early March (then a bunch of spring breaks). Then April through Memorial Day.

      We still take a lot of PTO in the shoulder seasons, but it’s still frustrating to be 20 years out of school and still scheduling our lives around a school calendar to some degree.

      1. Tiffany Aching*

        OMG yes. I also work in HR in higher ed, so we were dealing with the beginning of the semester with all of the new faculty/student employees, plus this year we had a merger that was effective 10/1. All of that, plus High Holy Days? I’m exhausted just remembering it!

        1. Anonymous pineapple*

          My sister in law is a CPA and an Orthodox Jew. She somehow manages tax season and Passover without completely losing her mind (though coming darn close to it). She’s gotten very efficient at meal planning and organizing to manage it.

    4. Slovenly Braid Cultist*

      Last time I planned to take off a day in late September I warned everyone three months in advance. Actually, I take that back- I wasn’t even taking off a day, I was telling them I had plans on the weekend and could not under any circumstances come in over that weekend. (I do not normally work weekends at all, but September is a different dimension.)

    5. Ashloo*

      I think it’s actually worth asking the question once, even if your manager ultimately can’t change it because it came from above. It’s worth saying you asked specifically about October in your interview and this will present a yearly conflict as a heads up. You don’t have to sound entitled in the asking or dramatically tell them you’ll leave over it. It’s a reminder and a “just checking” request. Maybe the deadline could be 10/15 instead of 10/31– who knows?

  20. Perplexed interviewer*

    I’m a Eurovision Song Contest fan and generally take leave on the third week of May so I don’t miss any coverage (I went to the contest in 2019 and I’d love to go again). I’m not sure it would be a deal breaker for a job I really really wanted if I couldn’t get time off in May, but it would be a big downer.

    1. Beany*

      I admire your devotion to Eurovision (especially if you’re not in Europe)! It’s as much as we can do to watch the final on the Saturday night (afternoon on the US East Coast), and keep scores.

  21. AndersonDarling*

    I absolutely get the love of Halloween! Up to a few years ago, I had to take the days off because I would work all year sewing and building costumes and Halloween night was like my personal fashion show.
    Along with that, OP, do your co-workers know how much you love Halloween? It sounds like you are still new, so you may not have been comfortable sharing. But once you get established, I’d let your candle shine! Use your pumpkin mug all year. Keep spooky decorations in your cube or zoom background. Let it be The Thing that people associate with you an an individual. If you let them know, then your co-workers would be jerks to take that away from you.

    1. zebra*

      But it’s not really about the coworkers being jerks to “take away” OP’s vacation days. The higher-ups made a decision to have business-critical deadlines occur during the Halloween season; it’s not up to one’s coworkers to “let” you take time off. Are you in charge of deciding when your colleagues are allowed to take PTO?

      1. AndersonDarling*

        Sorry, I didn’t mean that the co-workers would take away the OP’s day’s off, rather that they would take the joy out of the OP’s time off because the OP was worried about the perception. If the manager approves the PTO, then the question should end there, but it sounds like the OP is also concerned about the perception of the time off.

  22. Jessica*

    OP, you are awesome and I wish you many fabulous Halloweens. But I’ll semi-disagree with those who are saying to focus on the anniversary. Half the people in your workplace are probably married, and most of them don’t take a day off work for their anniversary, much less a week or two. I’m just worried that might come across as something everyone can recognize as being a bit special, but feel like “my specialness is more special than everyone else’s.” I might touch on both anniversary and Halloween while framing it as just being personal and family tradition.

    I also suggest thinking about and being ready to articulate what you want and what you can give. I am fantasizing a scenario where the higher-ups realize “oh wait, we could have picked any time for this and Valued Key Employee TOLD us she wasn’t available now, let’s just change the schedule forevermore,” but it’s probably not like that. It’s awesome that you’d quit over this, but if you don’t have to, what would actually work? Not “get through this one time” work, but work for you in the long term, every year? You don’t want a situation where you work just enough to blight all of your Halloween activities but take off just enough to make work resent you. What do you see as a scenario that everyone could be happy with? Have that in mind and be ready to pitch it.

    1. Pop*

      Interesting. I don’t feel that way at all. Some people take the day off for their birthday – which happens every year – and other’s, including me, don’t for whatever reason. Same with a family member’s birthday, or other miscellaneous “holidays” or special days throughout the year including the first day of school for their kids. I would just think that someone liked to take time off to celebrate their anniversary.

      1. MCMonkeyBean*

        I agree–unless others in the office have tried to take a week off for their anniversary and were told they couldn’t I can’t imagine that would be anyone’s reaction. I still think it’s the piece most people would understand. Not everyone takes time off for their anniversary, but it’s still pretty common.

        1. allathian*

          Yeah, it may be common, but in busy season I wouldn’t have any more sympathy for someone taking a week off for their anniversary than for other reasons. The day, certainly, but a whole week? Maybe for a 25th anniversary or something, but I’d definitely look a bit askance at someone who wanted to take a week off every year *during busy season* to celebrate their anniversary. I and my coworkers have more PTO than most readers of this blog, so taking weeks or even months off during less busy times is normal.

          My best friend is an accountant, and her wedding day was timed so that her anniversary would never coincide with her busy seasons.

          That said, I’m not big on celebrating personal milestones in general. I’ve certainly never taken a day off to celebrate my birthday, although next year I’ll get an extra day off for my 50th, so naturally I’ll take that. For the past two years, our anniversary celebrations were just wishing each other a happy anniversary. We got married in March, so in 2020 lockdown had just started, and this year we didn’t feel like doing anything.

          Personally, I’d lead with the volunteering angle here. Sure, the LW loves Halloween, but I think the part about volunteering to make other people’s, particularly kids’ Halloween even more special might be a good explanation that the other employees would accept.

    2. Blomma*

      I can’t speak for every workplace obviously, but I have a coworker who takes a week off around their wedding anniversary every year and very pointedly told me that was ‘their week off’ when I was a new employee.

    3. RagingADHD*

      I agree. I think it’s much better to lean on “this holiday is a bigger deal to me than Thanksgiving or Christmas, so I’ll happily cover for you on those” is going to be a lot more relatable.

      “I’m putting all my extra work on you during our annual crunch time because I need to celebrate my anniversary for a whole week” doesn’t come off as silly, it comes off as precious and self-centered.

      I don’t think the OP actually is either of those things. I think trading holidays is the better way to explain it, because of the way it sounds.

      1. Marillenbaum*

        So true! Lots of people want time off in December–either for religious observance or because their kids are out of school. Being willing to work those times when everyone else is trying to get the same few days? If I had OP as a coworker, I’d love them to death for being willing to handle Christmas, and doing a little more for a few busy days in October would seem more than fair.

  23. LemonLyman*

    I totally understand OP feeling the need to defend herself as to how important Halloween is to her. A lot of (probably most) adults wouldn’t understand her intense feelings about a holiday and would judge her harshly for taking days off for something they may feel isn’t important. Although, I feel like over the last few months people are becoming more aware of some of these toxic work-centric attitudes and realizing that those workplace martyr attitudes aren’t healthy. We are becoming more accepting of people taking days off when they need or want to with no need to justify the time off.

    That being said, I can still understand why she feels the need to justify her desire to take off the time because her colleagues that are doing the work in that moment might balk at her reasons for taking off the time (even with her taking on the bulk of the initial work). To me, the way she explains what she does to celebrate Halloween is akin to someone taking a vacation or attending a specialized event (think a graduation or child’s award ceremony, etc). It’s once a year. It’s special. It can’t be postponed to different days. She has fun traditions that she looks forward to and simply wouldn’t be the same if she did those any other time (even a couple of weeks earlier). But again, other adults might not understand. I know that OP’s question was about when to ask for time off but I think slipping in comments like “volunteering for neighborhood children” and “annual event” might help keep naysayers at bay.

  24. TheseOldWings*

    I used to work in political media buying, and obviously the election crunch comes right at Halloween. Typically, media is mostly all placed by that point, but there are occasional years when Election Day comes a bit later in November so it’s still during the final push . I have young kids, and I’m not missing out on taking them Trick-or-Treating and I have not been apologetic about leaving early that day to get home. I had one year where I don’t think my boss was particularly happy about it, but oh well.

  25. autumn*

    “(Hell, I once planned an international trip around making sure I would be home for the end of Daylight Savings Time because I like that day so much.)”

    I just have to say that this sentence reveals to me why I love Ask a Manager so much, without having anything whatsoever to do with asking or managing.

  26. I Faught the Law*

    I love this letter and a response. I perform at an event every Halloween season and my current job has been awesome about supporting it! I definitely get that it depends on the job and industry though – when I was a lawyer I once nearly had to cancel my own birthday party.

    I agree that a way to get around it is to center it the discussion around your anniversary. Also, it’s a religious day/week for many people… it’s not just Halloween that occurs this week, but Samhain, Day of the Dead, All Saints’ Day, etc. I’m not saying to appropriate a culture in order to take time off, but it’s not out of the question that this is an important week for many people. It certainly is for me!

  27. Coverage is a thing*

    I think Alison’s answer ignores some advice LW needs to hear. You don’t always get to take Halloween off, depending on your job. At my job, this is an issue next year how many people are Halloween obsessed and/or have young children. They all feel that they HAVE to be at home in the evening to celebrate, but only 2 people can take the day off because of staffing. That’s just the way it is. There are days as well on our calendar where NO ONE is allowed to take the day off because of the need for an all-staff meeting. They would never schedule that for Halloween, but still, it’s a thing. I’m also hearing a lot of coworkers say “but I have to have my birthday off” and pondering in what world anyone was ever promised to get their birthday off? I can’t even guarantee Christmas Eve off, and that is actual Christmas for me and my family, not Christmas Day.

    So, happy day if you work a job that allows almost unlimited people to be off at once and doesn’t need desk coverage. You chose a great job for your needs and hopefully you can always get at least a day or two off at Halloween (although I could see “busy time, limited PTO approved at this time” keeping you from multiple weeks). But definitely beware when looking for other jobs that it can be pretty impossible to guarantee certain times off each year, even if it’s not a “busy time”.

    1. Me*

      I think OP is fully aware of this to the point they specify it’s a deal breaker.

      People are allowed to have deal breakers for jobs. Even ones we don’t like or think are reasonable.

      1. Jennifer*

        But I think the OP also likes the job and wants to stay there if at all possible. It’s more reasonable to try to find a balance between her needs and the company’s needs instead of just quitting.

        1. Me*

          Yes they said they like the job. But the also said quite clearly it is a deal breaker.

          So no compromise along the lines of the OP can’t have what they want, isn’t going to work for the OP because they say so.

          We take lw at their word.

          1. Jennifer*

            I am taking her at her word. I think she wants to find a way to word her request that won’t put off her employer that will still get her what she wants in the end. Quitting sounded like a last resort.

            1. Me*

              I don’t understand your comments then. My response was to a comment that was basically telling the OP that she needs to know (as if she doesn’t already) too bad she needs to understand sometimes you have to suck it up. It wasn’t anything about how to best word her request.

      2. The New Wanderer*

        Yes, it sounds like the LW screens for this (potential risk of not being allowed to take vacation at a certain time of year) before ever accepting the job.

    2. Presea*

      I think we can assume OP knows this and is deliberate in screening out jobs that even could possibly require Halloween coverage, hence her asking about it in the interview. She knows her financial situation, work field, etc better than we do and she’s decided that this is a worthwhile deal breaker. I don’t think your advice came from a mean-spirited place, but I also think we shouldn’t assume that OP is ignorant to the realities of coverage in the working world, especially in her 40s.

      1. MCMonkeyBean*


        They clearly already accounted for this in their chosen field, and attempted to account for it during the interview process–though of course there was no way to guarantee it would never come up as a new issue the way it has now.

      2. CBB*

        Especially considering that LW is planning on requesting PTO for Halloween 2022 many months in advance.

        If for some reason her employer denies that request, that leaves plenty of time to find a new job. It’s not like it would necessitate an on-the-spot walk-out.

    3. Parakeet*

      I mean, I work a job with coverage needs too, but I don’t understand how this is advice the LW needs to hear. LW asked about this in the interview, so clearly they were already aware that for some jobs it wouldn’t be doable.

    4. DataGirl*

      I agree with this. I’m wondering how different the response would be if the LW was saying they were Christmas obsessed and absolutely have to have Christmas and the days before/after off. I think in that case the response would be more along the lines of- since Christmas is a day that a lot of your coworkers want off, you will have to share and sometimes work so that others can have it off. I suspect the answer here was under the assumption that most/all of the other coworkers aren’t going to care about having Halloween off, but that’ s definitely not the case if they have kids, or are just also Halloween fans. I get that this is a big enough deal to LW that they specifically asked about it in interviewing I just think that they also should be considerate of their coworkers and always refusing to work a given time of year isn’t very cooperative.

      1. Presea*

        I can’t speak for anything but myself, but if the hypothetical Christmas person took the same precautions and asked ahead in interviews and put in PTO very early and everything else, my point of view would be the same. I think it would reduce the potential job pool a lot more than Halloween does, but otherwise, people are allowed to have whatever dealbreakers they want!

      2. MCMonkeyBean*

        I am confident the answer would be pretty much the same. We even have had pretty similar questions here about Christmas.

        The main difference is that with Christmas, there is more likely to be an issue of many people if not everyone all wanting to take the same time off and if that’s not possible then you have to find a way to be fair and therefore it can’t be the same person every year. But the main part is “you get to decide what’s a deal-breaker for you” and obviously that answer is the same regardless of what holiday they are writing about.

        1. DataGirl*

          This was what I was trying to get at- if a lot of people want the same time off then you have to be fair and ‘share’ the holiday, rotating who gets to have it off.

          1. Presea*

            This only applies in jobs where holiday coverage is a thing. At my job, everyone can easily take Christmas Eve and Christmas Day off with zero problems if we want because we have no need for coverage on those days. Some workplaces will outright be closed or otherwise forbid working on certain holidays.

            1. Fran Fine*

              Same here. I don’t work in a coverage-based role, so many of us take the same time off at the end of the year with very little issue.

          2. MCMonkeyBean*

            Well then yes, obviously the answer to an entirely different question about an entirely different situation will be different than the answer to this question about this situation…

      3. CBB*

        If you substitute Christmas for Halloween, then I’d think you’d find lots of people exactly like LW. I personally have never not taken a few days off before Christmas (going back at least 25 Christmases). If I ever found myself in a job that denied my Christmastime PTO request, I would look for a new job.

        1. DataGirl*

          My point was intended for jobs where someone needs to be working those holidays- if everyone wants them off then you will need to rotate who gets to take off each year. If you were in a job where some people have to work Christmas, but you insisted on getting Christmas off every year and you were ok with your colleagues never being able to take off because you already were- well that’s just crappy.

          1. CBB*

            I don’t see any possible way in which LW is potentially being crappy to her coworkers regardless of what holiday it is.

            LW’s question is along the lines of: “How and when do I tell my employer that I need PTO every year on day X? (With the implication that I’ll seek employment elsewhere if this need can’t be accommodated.)”

            It would be neither true nor helpful to answer, “Don’t do that, that would be unfair to your coworkers.”

          2. ecnaseener*

            But the LW asks this during the interview process. Presumably if it was Christmas, and she asked about it in the interview and was told “We can’t guarantee you can have time off around Christmas because a lot of people want that and we need coverage [so we rotate / go by seniority / etc],” she could decide against taking that job. It would rule out a lot more jobs, but that would be her decision to make and the advice would still be “up to you whether this is worth quitting over.” (Which is in fact the advice other LWs have gotten in similar situations around Christmas.)

            Also – Sure it’s crappy to hog all the coveted PTO, but that’s on management to put systems in place.

      4. RetailEscapee*

        Thank you. I love Halloween but so do a lot of people, and at my last job at least three of us were angling for vacation the last week of October. If one person declared they got that week forever it would have caused a lot of bad feelings.

    5. Soup of the Day*

      Obviously different jobs have different requirements, but it sounds like OP asked about the busy season during their interview and wouldn’t take a job where Halloween coverage was usually required.

      Even if it was, accommodations don’t have to be fair. Every employee is entitled to negotiate their own time off with their management. If OP asks for every Halloween off and gets it, good for her, especially since she’s said she’s willing to work any other holiday in return. Other people can’t exactly be sour about it just because they didn’t think to ask first. Some jobs do have blackout dates, but I don’t think OP would consider a job where that was the case for Halloween.

  28. Canadian Valkyrie*

    Are you Clare Dunphy? From Modern Family? I love that real life people are obsessed with Halloween.

    That said, I feel conflicted about this — I think a lot of my reservation are around that I am surrounded by people with jobs that cannot reasonably just peace out for several days because of a holiday (e.g. doctors who work in emergency rooms, teachers who have to, well, teach regardless of how much they like Halloween, etc.). I suppose I could swing it with my job because I am self-employed and can effectively just book Halloween off for the rest of my life and no one can stop me because I have more autonomy than most. I guess I am just the sort of person who’s like “well, sometimes some of the conditions of your job suck up to and including not even getting to celebrate X holiday” – growing up with parents who couldn’t always be around on major holiday’s like Christmas royally sucked for them and for me but it was the reality.

    Any ways, it sounds like in your workplace that there’s no reason it should be a problem. And frankly, I think that you’re willing to work other holidays that people are more likely to want off like Christmas is really something that could be used to your advantage because at least you can assure them that, well, it’s win win. I think it can really help that people know someone is willing to work Christmas or Yom Kippur or Eid when they want to celebrate those holidays and that you’re someone who’d be available if needed. I think if you expected to have every concievable holiday off it would be like “ok, no”, but you want this 1 holiday. In fact, I think it can work to your advantage (again!) that it’s Halloween as opposed to Christmas or New Years when more people are likely to want it off than can be permitted due to coverage.

    TBH the fact it sounds like it shouldn’t be an issue for your work is why I’m chill with it.

    1. MCMonkeyBean*

      There are definitely lots of jobs where you don’t get much say over your time off, but that’s also a very reasonable thing to specifically factor into your job choice if you are able to! I definitely have!

      I left my company for a different one and that company nearly made everyone work on Thanksgiving for no good reason (even though it had always been a company holiday in the past) but cancelled at the last second due to huge employee backlash. They did make a lot of people work the next day though and were very visibly annoyed that they had to let me take it off because they agreed to a vacation I already had planned before I took the job. I honestly hadn’t thought about it much before but at that point I realized how much I appreciated the timing of when I was able to take PTO at my previous company (November and December were slow months and most of my team always took the last couple weeks off without having to worry about coverage). It ended up being one of several reasons I went back to my first company after seven months.

      So if PTO timing is important to someone, that is totally a valid reason to leave your job. And if you would honestly be willing to leave the job over it but otherwise like the job, then of course you should talk to them first and find out if they’ll make it work for you!

      1. Canadian Valkyrie*

        Oh 100%… I may not have articulated it as well as I meant to, but I *intended* that to be part of my point — usually you know that you’re getting a job where working these holidays will eventually happen and you can’t seriously just peace out indefinitely. I think I see people lose sight of that sometimes though — like they pick up X career because they think it’ll be cool (e.g., becoming an accountant without realizing the impacts that quarterly things have on your ability to, say, go to the Caribbean during that month).

        I think it’s a brilliant idea to take that time off. You might as well. Most jobs allow for it… and even the ones that don’t, it’s not like you can’t find somewhere that has more flexibility.

  29. Not really a Waitress*

    My company has 7 paid holidays a year (XMAS, New Year’s, July 4th) But two personal “Use them for what’s important to you” holidays a year. Our site HR insists those 2 days HAVE to be holidays. I am not religious. My parents are gone. My kids are older. So I tell them I am taking St Patrick’s Day and Halloween off each year as my heritage holidays. I am 33% Irish (and Catholic) and I am the first generation in my direct line to be born OUTSIDE of Salem, Massachusetts for over 300 years.

    And go you. When my son was 16, he brought a new girl home to meet me. It was early October and she told me she loved my Halloween decorations (my foyer was covered with Witch items and signs). My son uncomfortably shuffled his feet and cleared his throat as I announced “Those aren’t Halloween Decorations,”

    1. Properlike*

      Not really a Waitress: they have to be religious holidays? Nothing like “National Donut Day?” Does it have to be a holiday in the country in which you live? Because I would bet somewhere, somehow, there’s a holiday you need on one of the other 358 days of the year. :)

      1. Seven hobbits are highly effective, people*

        Even if they have to be religious holidays, I’m pretty sure that every day is associated with some Catholic saint or other. Just look up which saints have their days on the days you want off and make up an exciting story about why those saints resonate with you even if you’re not Catholic.

        1. Lady_Lessa*

          Standing Ovation. I like the way you think. And since “Not really a Waitress” is a mother, there are a number of Marian holidays, such as Our Lady of Guadalupe, etc.

        2. introverted af*

          I do this with my confirmation saint, highly recommend. Especially if it’s an annual event.

        3. Evan Þ*

          As a Protestant, I think this’s a great idea, and fun as well! I think I’ll start looking that up for my PTO days even though my work doesn’t care one bit!

      1. Not really a Waitress*

        I have tried to tell them I do not think that is how its meant to be applied. I even emailed our corporate HR to get clarification and site HR still disagreed. Like they specifically tell people you can’t use them for your birthday. They insist it has to be used on one of the typical holidays we aren’t using. So for example, MLK Day, (Or Robert E Lee Day if you live in Alabama) Juneteenth, Good Friday, Indigenous Culture/Columbus Day.

        And yes, my team has identified key National Days to use as personal holidays… We are looking forward to National Cappuccino Day next month.

        1. TiffIf*

          That is a really DUMB rule.

          My company has 9 paid holidays and 1 “floating holiday” which I always use for my birthday.

        2. Undine*

          Wait, am I hearing you right? You can have Robert E. Lee day off and not your birthday. Excuse me while I crawl around on the floor trying to find where my jaw went when I dropped it.

    2. ArtK*

      HR rule sounds like it came from the same person who claimed that someone born on February 29 can only have a birthday every 4 years. Some folks are just a wee bit too literal.

  30. LMM*

    This letter, and Alison’s response, are, I think, why so many of us love and rely on this website. LW sounds like the best kind of coworker who often gets the raw end of the deal, but Alison’s response is so kind and empathetic and YES MAKE THIS WORK FOR YOU and it just shows that there is a lid for every workplace pot in the world. I have warm Halloween fuzzies.

  31. KD*

    Having a coworker with a ‘non traditional’ special season/holiday would be amazing especially as the LW is willing to fill in on the more popular thanksgiving and Christmas times of year.

    I would wait to discuss time off until after Christmas when the memory of the October crunch time has faded and LW willingness to cover the Christmas season is fresh in people’s minds.

  32. Somewhere in Texas*

    I feel like I need to get on this Halloween train. I need a lesson on how to match this level of awesomeness! I can’t wait to hear how your celebration goes this year.

  33. Merci Dee*

    LW sounds like my kind of person. Halloween has always been my favorite season, and I tend to celebrate the whole month of Spooktober. Kiddo and I watch season-appropriate movies several nights a week — not just horror movies, but also fun spoopy movies (think live-action Scooby Doo movies, Shaun of the Dead, Eight-Legged Freaks, etc.). It has long been my goal to have 31 pairs of Halloween themed earrings so that I could wear a different pair every day of the month, and I finally found the last few pairs to complete my collection this year. So I’m totally thrilled about that.

    Since Halloween is on a weekend this year, we’ve pretty much planned to spend Saturday and most of Sunday on the couch watching various movies. At some point, I will pull out the best Halloween movie of them all . . . . Hocus Pocus. And I will sip hot chocolate or hot tea (not sure which yet) from my new mug that has a picture of a black cat and a full moon with the words, “Binx is my spirit animal.” Will probably eat enough popcorn and candy over the weekend to make us sick for the rest of the week.

    Yes, we have been planning this for months, why do you ask? :)

    1. Grand Admiral Thrawn Is Blue Forevermore*

      Oh yes, HP is definitely way up there on the Hween list. Halloweentown is also really good; more of a kids’ tv movie but I love it. And for something that’s funny but has more of an edge, The Frighteners with Michael J Fox. All excellent choices.

      1. Merci Dee*

        I love The Frighteners! It’s been a long time since I’ve seen that movie, but I definitely loved the comic element that some of Michael J. Fox’s ghost pals added to the proceedings.

        We added a copy of Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children to our collection this year. Not specifically a Halloween movie, but I think the darker elements and tone add to the holiday ambiance. I also picked up a copy of Ghost Ship, and I’m waiting on the Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark disc to come in tomorrow. Ordered a copy of the 3-book collection to go along with that movie, too. I remember reading those as a kid, but its been ages since I’ve seen the books themselves.

  34. Something Anonymous*

    LW, especially since you already planned to take the days off and are pulling your weight, you have no reason to feel bad about this. However, you’ve already built in the perfect cover – it’s your wedding anniversary! I think most people would be perfectly understanding.
    I do think you should consider that they’re building in a weekend deployment just because it is the end of the month. Planning to make everyone work a full weekend is a big red flag for me, especially if it’s going to be an ongoing item.

  35. CupcakeCounter*

    Halloween is my aunt’s favorite as well. Decor starts going up right after Labor Day and it takes days and days and days to put up (and take down). She even has Halloween dishes, sheets/blankets, and towels she uses during that time.

  36. Office Lobster DJ*

    You could also lean into the “I volunteer at a yearly community event” angle. Even if you do let your boss know that means you’re working a haunted house, pushing the “blame” for the inconvenient dates onto an external source might help smooth things over.

    I definitely like the idea of waiting a bit to bring up next year. Let any stress from the busy period die down. At the very least, wait to see how things work out this year. Did they do fine without you? Good evidence it’s workable. Did it all fall apart without you? Good evidence that this may not be a great fit.

  37. Black Horse Dancing*

    Halloween is a season, not a day! Halloween is the best and OP, you rock. We were married on Halloween as well.

  38. Ripley*

    I’m at one of those no defined holidays, unlimited PTO tech companies. They said “we don’t pick which holidays more are important than others- take the days off that are important to you.” I took 11/1 off because to me, Halloween is as much a part of my (gay) culture as the secularized christian ones are to people who celebrate them for cultural reasons (not lumping this in with the religious aspect for those who celebrate them as part of their faith-I only mean the secular aspects like trees, lights, family time, etc.). So I don’t think you’re weird, OP.

    1. Aj Crowley*

      Added to – as a fellow queer who lives in a gayborhood in which Halloween means the main blvd is shut down to traffic – this serves the same purpose as gathering for any secular or secularized holiday – I’m gathering with my community and my (chosen) family. Many of us can’t go home for more traditional holidays or we suffer through them with the discomfort of knowing we cannot be fully open or be ourselves.

      I appreciate that your company seems to understand that no one can dictate which holidays are important and which are not. And which are actually quite painful.

      1. Ripley*

        100 percent. Halloween is my time with my chosen family whereas the Christian ones are painful. My company has people of all faiths who appreciate the flexibility.
        Your comment makes me miss living in Chicago-Halsted shuts down and it’s like a carnival.

  39. animaniactoo*

    I would probably try to position some of this as standing commitments, like working for the Haunted Houses, etc.

    But I would definitely wait until people aren’t so focused on having just been through a crazy busy period where they were working so hard.

  40. Spicy Nonprofit Iconoclast*

    I understand why you’re defensive. People often treat any non-religious observances as frivolous. I can imagine the fact that you don’t have kids could even make it worse. People – especially women and other minority genders – get screwed regarding kids: if you have them, you aren’t focused or dedicated enough; if you don’t have them, then your time-off needs and work-life boundaries are frivolous.

    If you were Jewish/Muslim/Pagan/some other minority religion/culture that had its high holidays in October, nobody would bat an eyelash at you taking time off for Ramadan or Rosh Hashanah or Day of the Dead. I don’t see why caring a lot about Halloween is that much different culturally (obviously not the same legally, given freedom of religion in the US). Most companies don’t give time off for Easter anymore, but most are totally fine if Christians took Good Friday off even during a busy time. Then again, I don’t believe in anything.

    Is there a non-appropriative way to frame this to your boss to demonstrate the seriousness? Is there a reason you love Halloween that fits into “acceptable” narratives about holidays? Like, “Halloween has symbolic meaning for me because we used to celebrate with my father – who died tragically when I was a teenager – so use this time to commemorate our relationship by making the time special for other kids and their families.” Or whatever…(that’s my fake reason based on real biographical truths).

    1. Loulou*

      People actually do bat an eyelash at people taking off for minority religious holidays! Like…all the time. It’s also so common to have important meetings scheduled on those holidays because the schedulers do not consider the minority religion members when scheduling. This is absolutely not an appropriate way to frame it.

      1. cncx*

        came here to say this. I’ve had deadlines on Eid, meetings where i had to present at five or six pm when i asked for them to be in the mornings (i lose my voice if i am not hydrated). i’ve worked in four countries and except for the times where they were already weekends or holidays, i have had Eid off exactly once in 20 years, and the one time i had Eid off, i never heard the end of it. It isn’t easy at all for minority religions to get time off ,and i work a salaried job that doesn’t need coverage down to the day.

        1. Spicy Nonprofit Iconoclast*

          I’m sorry this happens to you, and I’m sorry for my flippancy. I wrongly intimated that religious minorities don’t receive the full accommodations they deserve. I live in an area in the US with a large Muslim population, and my organization is generally very good about accommodating people’s schedules. But, it’s also beneficial to us that people take off different days because of coverage, so we’re happy to give off Eid because the person taking off Eid won’t likely need Good Friday off.

    2. SimplytheBest*

      Since you’ve made it clear in other posts you’re a white cultural Christian, how about you don’t talk about how easy it is for minority religions to get time off for their holidays (newsflash: it isn’t)? It just makes you look ignorant.

      1. Spicy Nonprofit Iconoclast*

        Late to the party, but point taken. Sincerely. I work in a diverse city and in a nonprofit. We’re very accommodating of religious holidays for inclusiveness reasons and for practical reasons (e.g. when we all have different holidays, we have better coverage! I’m happy to trade holidays with people because we don’t celebrate, and that’s usually the case across the org). I assumed it wasn’t universally accepted, but I figured it was more accepted than people are saying. I’m listening. I’ll definitely do better to normalize this when it comes up.

        FWIW, being culturally Christian doesn’t mean I’m Christian or even Christian-accommodating. It’s just assimilationist. It’s a thing I do to exist in this country, which is hard since many Christian denominations seek to eradicate my rights and even my existence as a visibly queer person. However, my extended family celebrates Christmas secularly, and I participate because I want to see them and because our stupid Christian country gives us Christian holidays off. I’d strongly prefer to choose 100% of my holidays, not just 3. If my family were Jewish, Wiccan, Buddhist, I’d do the same.

        Apologies for the spiciness. I’m from an area where my atheism isn’t always honored even among (cis-het) progressives, and I’m also probably over-correcting in my brain about the broad acceptance of religious freedom. Religious freedom is such a potent, visceral force in American life right, and I feel it acutely as a cis-woman of childbearing age and as a person in a queer relationship. This, of course, doesn’t truly extend to minority religions. And, I’m conflating that with the religious diversity in my community. Totally unfair.

    3. Starbuck*

      “If you were Jewish/Muslim/Pagan/some other minority religion/culture that had its high holidays in October, nobody would bat an eyelash at you taking time off for Ramadan or Rosh Hashanah or Day of the Dead.”

      I would love to live in a country where this was true, but I haven’t found that to be the case in the US where I’ve lived.

      But the point about people without kids getting much lower prioritization for holidays off – yeah, that I have witnessed.

      1. Duc Anonymous*

        This is definitely true. My godmother converted to one of the Eastern Churches not in communion with Rome and everyone at her office talks about how her calendar is “off” or wrong (Easter). That is annoying.

        FWIW, I always take off November 22 because my mom is a JFK assassination buff, so it’s documentary and fatty food day for us, unless it’s Thanksgiving.

  41. First time listener, long time caller*

    Whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa! Before OP talks to their boss, they need to completely re-set their expectations of what they are asking for. This is NOTHING like asking somebody to work on a major annual project on Christmas. In most jobs, employers understand that a lot of people take a lot of time off around Christmas and try to avoid scheduling major projects for that time.

    If you compare this to Christmas, you will seem completely out of touch with reality. Don’t do that.

    Do stand up for the vacation days that are important to you. Do that on your its terms.

    1. Mental Lentil*

      If you compare this to Christmas, you will seem completely out of touch with reality.


      The entire point of Alison’s response is that you get to pick what’s special to you. There’s nothing wrong with saying “This is my Christmas and it’s a deal breaker for me.”

      Making Christmas season special like this really centers the Christian experience at a time when we are becoming more diverse. Halloween is a special time to pagans (and non-pagans). Passover is a thing. Diwali is a thing. Ramadan is a thing.

      Let’s not do this, okay?

      1. MCMonkeyBean*

        Fully agree! And I think it adds to their argument to say that it’s more important to them than Christmas if they are literally offering that as a tradeoff (if working on Christmas is a thing the company needs)

    2. James*

      To add to what Mental Lentil is saying, it’s like Christmas TO THE OP. They go over-the-top with the celebration, like some do with Christmas. It fills the same role for the OP as Christmas does to most people.

      It’s not that to the culture Halloween is the same as Christmas, or that the OP is trying to force it to be. It’s that Christmas is something the OP can compare their take on Halloween to, which will allow us to understand how important it is to them.

      English is an inherently poetic language, and similes are an integral part of the vernacular, regardless of where one is. It’s a perfectly legitimate turn of phrase.

  42. SpaceySteph*

    If its really a dealbreaker then there’s no reason not to go frame it to management as such. If they know they could lose you over it, they might not think that’s worth it. Especially if there are other projects/events around, say, Thanksgiving or Christmas when you could make it up. As the lone Jew on my team (24/7 coverage role) I take a lot of time off in September for the Jewish holidays, but its worth it to them because I work the overnight shift on Christmas.

    As for people judging you for liking Halloween– some will, some won’t. A good manager (not that they all are, of course) would be able to separate “i think this is a dumb reason” from “my employee has a conflict and I either can or can’t accommodate it.”

  43. Properlike*

    OP says she’s willing to cover the other more-universally recognized holidays for others. I’m sure others in her group will need time off at inconvenient times for things that are meaningful to them that don’t fall on the religious/state calendar. I’d totally switch with her!

  44. Mare*

    I am conflicted on this because while we all get to decide what is important to us, it is just not reasonable in most workplaces to expect to have the same days off every year. But the OP sounds like she is in the position of being able to die on that hill….and we all have a hill. I would not approach it as an anniversary thing. I would be honest but include that you are willing to work Christmas or Thanksgiving in addition to reminding them that you asked about October during the interview process. I find coworkers and managers to be much more agreeable when I offer something in exchange and since Christmas and Thanksgiving tend to be the times of the year during which it is likely more than one or two or three people want to take PTO, it will be appreciated. November and December are our busiest months and if I want to take time off for either of those holidays I always offer to cover someone for the other holiday. It always works out. I am guessing that once you have the conversation with management it will end up not being a big deal at all.

    1. MCMonkeyBean*

      “it is just not reasonable in most workplaces to expect to have the same days off every year”

      I don’t agree with that at all! Aside from needing to share highly-desirable holidays, which is obviously not the case here. I would think if anything you would generally expect the overall ebb and flow of busy times to be pretty similar year-over-year and plan your vacations accordingly. I know in my line of business the month after every quarter end is busy and we are expected not to take much PTO then, so I pretty much always take my big vacations in June or September. And I have recently started going to DragonCon which means I’ve told my boss I plan on always requesting time off around labor day weekend.

      I think looking to take the same PTO every year is a pretty normal thing, and especially if you ask about it in advance as part of deciding to take the job!

      1. Sloan Kittering*

        I think it totally depends on the job. In the average office job you could probably virtually guarantee certain days off if you put it on the calendar early enough and were firm about it; maybe 80% likelihood. In other jobs where coverage is more essential, perhaps not, but it sounds like it’s just OP’s bad luck to have an office job that now has made that week the high priority. I’ve been there; I used to organize a conference that fell around the same time of year every year. If that time of year had been particularly important to me, I would have needed to switch jobs. It has never happened in any of my other roles.

        1. Ann O'Nemity*

          Right, and circumstances change. The OP asked about October in the interview to make sure they could take time off, but now circumstances have changed and there’s an expectation that their team does a large project every October. The manager/employer may be able to accommodate the OP, or they may decide that it’s not feasible for the OP to be out during this crucial time every year.

          (BTW I am so empathetic to the OP, because I have a similar thing for Christmas – New Years. It’s the one time of year my extended family gets together, and it requires us to travel. Plus daycare and school closures. At my last job, circumstances changed and it became increasingly difficult to take that whole week off without inconveniencing coworkers and pissing off my manager. I hated navigating it every year, because no matter what I did someone ended up unhappy.)

      2. Coenobita*

        I totally agree. I serve as a pollworker and have taken election days off for about a decade. (I’m in Virginia, so we have at least one election every year, usually two but sometimes as many as four.) It’s never been a problem! In fact, I think taking off the same days every year makes it easy to plan ahead.

        1. Matt*

          For me it’s the opposite thing with elections – I work as a software developer in government IT, and one of my major tasks is maintaining and operating the election system. So whenever an election comes up (which isn’t at fixed dates like in the US, but can be essentially anytime about three months preliminary when a governmental coalition prematurely dissolves or whatever) this means there are about two months we should better not take much time off, and election day itself and the surrounding days there is blacked out, no time off, ever, period. There are few people who know the system inside out as myself and two, three of my coworkers do, and you really need those, because if there’s one “off” number on the screen and someone wants the explanation how that number calculates, and you better have a quick explanation and verification that the system is working correctly. We had more than one holiday cancelled because of prematurely upcoming elections. On the other hand, no problems with Christmas and summer holidays (no elections ever) and Halloween isn’t such a big thing here.

      3. LizM*

        Absolutely. I think if it’s a day that multiple people want off (like Spring Break from the local school district), than yeah, there needs to be some negotiation. But I usually take a couple days off around my wedding anniversary for a camping trip or a long weekend, and it’s never been an issue.

      4. Me*

        Agreed. Its def employer/industry dependent and none of us have worked “most” jobs, so we really only know what our own experience has been.

        My employer is another that plenty of people take the same time off annually, myself included. We’re still in a rural enough area that hunting is a big (big) thing, and you best believe that guys take the same two weeks in November to go hunting every year. Can everyone have the same two weeks? Of course not, but so and so takes these two weeks while them such takes a different two weeks.

        And again, as I’ve said in other comments, the is a deal breaker for LW. It is allowed to be. There ARE employers where this will be fine. LW does not have to compromise and fully understands that there’s jobs its’ not possible. Frankly it’s insulting to keep pointing out to the LW that hey don’t they know it’s not okay at some employers?

    2. Green Tea For Me*

      “ it is just not reasonable in most workplaces to expect to have the same days off every year.”

      I mean, maybe? I certainly know several people who take their birthday off every year. I commented below that I’m a little like the LW in that I love Halloween, way more than any other holiday. I don’t care about Christmas, I would be fine working thanksgiving so long as someone saved me leftover turkey, but Halloween is my holiday. And I take it off every year.

  45. Quickbeam*

    I got stink eyed for my request to take full moon afternoons off (salaried, work 50+ hours a week) in order to drive to the pagan sanctuary in my state. I pointed out that my colleagues get to take tons of time off for church activities, this was no different. It took HR to weigh in but I got my flexibility.

    1. I'm just here for the cats*

      Good for you for sticking up for yourself. Pitty that HR had to get involved.

  46. MCMonkeyBean*

    OP, I fully support your Halloween obsession–I’m a really big fan myself! I don’t take time off, but I have asked about Halloween as part of digging into company culture during interviews. (The answer I got was basically “I don’t think that many people dress up but it’s definitely allowed” which I decided was good enough lol).

    I also think at the end of the day, it is always very reasonable to say to your boss basically “I asked about X during the interview because that is something that’s important to me. I know with this project things have changed a bit, but X is still very important to me.”

    While you definitely don’t need to justify to us how much you love Halloween, I get why you feel like people may not take it seriously–so if I were in your shoes I would absolutely make sure to mention the anniversary part, maybe even as the main factor. I have definitely encountered some judgement over my love of Halloween, but I think pretty much any adult wouldn’t bat an eye at “I take a week off for my anniversary every year.” I wouldn’t suggest *lying* over something like this, but if one part of your truth is something more likely to resonate with your boss it can’t hurt to focus on that part a little more!

  47. Caboose*

    I wonder if framing it around your anniversary would make it easier to broach with the rest of the team?

    In any case, OP sounds awesome. The world needs more people like you.

    1. ecnaseener*

      LOL excellent point. I guess in this scenario Buddy is not working as an elf, but in a boring non-festive human job.

    2. Shad*

      I think it’d depend on the job. Work giving out gifts, or feeding people Christmas food, or other Christmas-y/celebration adjacent work, sure. But probably not work sitting in an office cubicle typing on a computer. More the equivalent of OP’s volunteer work at a haunted house than their day job.

  48. The Ginger Ginger*

    Just so you know you’re not alone in REALLY leaning into a PTO period that others may not understand, I take my birthday week off every year. Part of it is that it’s an easy week to remember all my “scheduled maintenance” type appointments like eye exams, dentists, and annual physical. But that majority of the reason is that Daylight Saving starts around my birthday every year and I HATE IT. I struggle so bad with the spring forward time change, it takes me about a week to adjust if I have to be awake and available at the “new” times, and I’m just miserable and unwell the whole time. So I just opt out. I schedule afternoon appointments, and I tell everyone I take my birthday week off as the excuse (and I’m lucky my birthday is conveniently timed). But really, it’s DST. This solution has worked multiple years now; it’s made adjusting to the time change a breeze. If I had to work somewhere that was a problem, I’d really REALLY reconsider.

  49. oranges*

    I’m a member of a professional organization that once held their national conference over Halloween. I lead attendance for my company, and I’m one of about 12 people who attend. Since my kids were small and peak Halloween age, I really waffled about being gone for the whole week, including the night of the 31st.

    The pressure was too much and I ended up going. It’s five years later, and I’m STILL mad about it! So you love Halloween, LW, and don’t feel bad about not wanting to work that time of year. And if that doesn’t work for this job, definitely find one where it does. Good luck!

  50. WulfInTheForest*

    I’ve recently debated on when to “come out of the broomcloset” with my new employer and thought about taking a day off for the next Pagan holidays. Luckily, Halloweens on a Sunday this year so it doesn’t have to be something I bring up while brand new/in my 90 days probation. It’s so hard when people say “but it’s just Halloween” and take upset with someone taking those days off, not realizing it’s an important cultural day(s) and holiday for many people (Day of the Dead, Samhain, All Saint’s Day nov 1st).

  51. TimesChange*

    “I said I was not available on Saturday the 30th or Sunday the 31st.”

    Unless you’re in an area where many people don’t take kids trick or treating at all — I can’t imagine your coworkers would be thrilled that this is suddenly crunch time every year. Even if everyone doesn’t want a day off — many parents want to have trick or treat times, or hit a Halloween party, or do a school event for a niece. Working over time on every Halloween (evenings or weekends) doesn’t sound great (when it’s not industry related, like tax days, food service). Maybe this can really be a group push back (didn’t we crater Halloween 2021? Can we avoid that this year?) since it was new this year.

    I also agree with other posters about also leaning in on the many activities OP does — volunteering, making a big event for kids. I have a coworker who made a little haunted woods behind his house. He chatted about it on the lead up to Halloween (not annoyingly so — just what he was doing new that year, etc) so it was normal/expected when he was out of office early to run it.

    OP — I have a summer hobby event that is a “must have” in my book. I’ve done it for 9 years (including virtual) and I protect it pretty closely. I’ve talked about it enough that my coworkers know it’s important and I’m “important” at it (not really, but I do volunteer and teach sometimes).

  52. generic_username*

    I kind of love this. Halloween is also one of my favorite holidays, but I certainly don’t do it up this big. I’m mainly all about the candy.

    I would lean into the wedding anniversary aspect as well – people will certainly understand needing time off around your wedding anniversary.

  53. Despachito*

    I’d volunteer for Christmas this year, and then wait for the next opportunity (the evaluation?) to say that you are willing to volunteer/don’t mind volunteering (whatever will feel better for you) for all the other holidays which will possibly be of interest for other people, but you really NEED the Halloween off.

    If I were your coworker, I’d gladly trade Christmas with my family with you for Halloween I do not care about, and I think there will be much more people who will be more than willing to do the same.

  54. Green Tea For Me*

    LW, you sound similar to me. I LOVE Halloween. I am wearing one of my several Halloween themed skirts right now. I always take at least the day of off, and usually a day or two either side of it. Having to work on Halloween every year would be a quitting my job level deal breaker for me.

    One thing that’s worked well for me is several months before (so think around mid summer) I’ll say something to my manager like, ‘hey, I know people are going to start putting in holiday time off in the next couple of months. Im happy to do coverage for Thanksgiving/Christmas/NYE but I want to go ahead and ask for Halloween off now since that’s the holiday that’s most important to me.’

    I’ve been at my current job for five years now, so my manager knows this, and I don’t even need to remind her. Around the beginning of October she’ll usually do a quick check in to make sure everything’s the same as last year, and we’re good to go.

    I’d even encourage you to play up the trade off with your coworkers. You know I’m happy to be here the week between Christmas and new year, but Halloween is sacred to me!

  55. Homebody Houseplant*

    I wouldn’t necessarily advocate for lying but- I am Wiccan and consider “Halloween” a religious holiday (Samhain). It is extremely important to me from a spiritual perspective and is basically New Years. I bake, I cook special food for my family, I do rituals and dedications for the coming year, honor my ancestors, etc. I typically want the day before and the day after off as well just because it takes so much time and effort. I have never had an issue with an employer telling me this was not okay, because for me it’s religious. It does mean having to “out” myself which is not comfortable in every situation but is legally protected. Of course, they could still say no, but I’ve found being honest about the importance has worked in my favor.

    You could go that route, if it means that much to you. Or, you could just be honest. That it’s just going to be a perpetual non-starter and you’d be happy to do whatever work leading up to it, sub in for something important to some else, or whatever makes that a fair trade off.

  56. A Genuine Scientician*

    The LW sounds very reasonable, to me. Obviously, there are jobs where this wouldn’t be possible (a previous comment about election campaigns, for example), but it sounds like a) it’s likely doable in this particular job, and b) the LW is willing to leave the job if it isn’t workable.

    OP, I think one of the strongest points in your favor is your willingness to work on other holidays that many people consider more desirable to have off. If you actually get push back from your boss — which I doubt you will — it might be helpful to reply with something like “These days are very important to me, which is why I asked about how busy October is when I was interviewing. I’m willing to work on Thanksgiving, Christmas, the week between Christmas and New Year, etc. Is there a way to trade coverage with other people if you’re concerned about the job impact?”

    It’s possible someone might think oddly of you, but I’m betting a lot more of your coworkers would think “Odd that LW cares so much more about Halloween than about [X], but it means 1 fewer person wanting that day off, so, great”. Odd isn’t always bad. Thanksgiving has never been a big deal to me, so I’ve been happy to provide coverage for people on it in order to get days that were more meaningful to me off, and coworkers have been grateful for that. I suspect something similar will apply here.

  57. OP*

    Thank you to Alison for answering my question and everyone for their input! The spooky podcast link was spine chilling. ;) I also loved hearing everyone’s different reasons for taking PTO.

    The support has really made me smile today. It is true that I am feeling defensive about this and concerned about justifying my stance. I have been judged in the past for how I spent this PTO time.

    For the questions, it is very rare that work is being done on a weekend. This will most likely be a yearly occurrence based on calendar days. I don’t work in emergency/health/education services or an establishment that is open 24/7.
    As for changing the time of the project, it was said once they decide when, those will be the yearly dates. But I would think if they ran into issues with timing that changing the dates could theoretically happen.

    Would they change the dates for me, specifically? Not likely at this point. I’m the newest kid on the block here- but still part of the team. I contribute a large amount to this so again, it may be possible down the road but not the foreseeable future.

    I really like the idea of waiting a month or two. That puts me past review time, but also around goal planning.

    This is the longest break of PTO that I take any calendar year. I may do a long weekend here and there, but the end of October is the only time I take a week (or more). I only took two days this year because I’ve not accrued a whole lot.

    Leaning on the anniversary is absolutely possible and a great idea. I also could frame my horror movie watching, pumpkin spice coffee chugging, black cat pajama wearing week as a “yearly event” for sure. It is great to hear there are a lot of other Halloween lovers out there.

    I wish everyone the Happiest of Spooky Season!

    1. Sea Anemone*

      You could possibly push back as a group! A lot parents with kids will probably be relieved if the due date is moved to mid-October.

      1. Lizy*

        late to the par-tay, but I agree with this. I’m not a big Halloween person, necessarily, but always enjoyed taking the kids trick-or-treating.

        My mom worked at a place that had a HUGE Halloween thing every year, and kids/grandkids were strongly encouraged to trick-or-treat. We’d have to bring extra pumpkins because after we got done with the first floor, we’d run out of space. People were VERY invested in it – there were competitions and some departments would basically take the whole day off to decorate and get ready. Of course, since it was at her work, the trick-or-treating was during work hours.

        I had a job where the biggest day of the year for me was November 1. I always made sure as much prep work was done as possible, and my boss was ok with me skipping off a few hours early each year. Because I had a good track record and got the work done, it wasn’t a big deal. I think I may have skipped the first year I worked there, because it was like a month after I started, but the rest of the time it was fine.

        So yes – I think as long as you plan ahead, and see about getting a group together, you’ll be fine. :)

    2. MissDisplaced*

      I would frame this more around your anniversary and as being a time you and your partner celebrate by taking time off. It doesn’t matter if you go anywhere, because it sounds like Halloween is part of that anniversary.

      I think most reasonable places will understand.
      But I’ve also worked at some unreasonable places where we weren’t allowed off anytime in February or March, and March was my birthday and I like to go take a week off to travel then.

  58. KR*

    OP, it’s good you decided to get married right around Halloween because that’s something a lot of people will understand needing time off around even if they don’t understand your love of Halloween. I think that’s the right framing here – “My wedding anniversary is this day and along with a total love of Halloween, I really price time off for this time of year more than any other time.” There was an all-hands-on-deck festival that a team I worked on covered every year that I just never went to – I can’t remember the reasoning but I was either always working at my other job or I had something that happened that same week in my personal life every year. We just worked around it and I did what I could to both prep for the event and finalize the product after the event was over. It happens!

  59. Independent*

    Hey OP we’re similar, I just go nuts around Christmas: it’s all about cooking, baking, decorating, hosting, etc. I’ve worked for the same team for about 10 years. They know I love Christmas and always take time off from Christmas through New Year. If it requires some check of an email here and there, I would gladly do it, but it was more of an exception.
    Last year I worked like crazy and was burned out by the time December rolled in. I was very much looking to take time off as I usually do. But a major project was brewing and we got the green light on the 23rd to move forward with the next steps on January 4th. My boss didn’t offer an alternative, just “What are your vacation plans?” In order to move up, I had to work. I cried
    The project progressed great but at that time I realized I need to come to terms with working when needed for this employer. So, I gave them a notice and started my own business. I am determined to never have to make that same choice again and if I do, it will be on my terms, not on corporate terms.

  60. BlueBelle*

    Sometimes you have to work when you don’t want to. If you put in your PTO and your manager says “no” are you willing to quit over it? Let people know that this is an important week for you and that you are willing to cover for anyone who wants time off at other times a year or do like you did and offer to do more work leading up to your preferred time off. It sounds like that offer was received well and a good solution.

    1. OP*

      To answer your question, yes. I am absolutely willing to quit over being denied PTO for Halloween. I won’t do it on the spot, but they will have to find someone for next year. There are a ton of jobs out there and I will find one that is ok with this instead. Hopefully it doesn’t come to that because I really like the job.

      1. Clisby*

        My bet is that you could find many companies that would love to give you Halloween week off in exchange for your agreement to work Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s without complaint.

  61. Not Tom, Just Petty*

    OP, you do you.
    I’ve taken off the day after Halloween for the last five years or so, because I travel to friend’s house to hand out candy while she and the husband take the kids around the neighborhood.
    Then they put the kids to bed and we eat the candy.
    So yeah, not going to work the next day.
    Everyone knows. It’s part of the office. Like Paula takes off her birthday every year. Mary takes off the week between xmas and new year’s day. Jane takes off st. pat’s cuz it’s grandkid’s bday.
    We adjust our office to fit our lives.

  62. Sauron*

    OP, you’re amazing and an inspiration. Halloween is also my favorite holiday, and you’re making me seriously consider upping my commitment and effort in the future just because it’s fun and I love it. I did however handmake my costume for the first time this year :) I hope you have a wonderfully spooky Halloween this year!

  63. Karak*

    OP, I think framing it as, “this is my my wedding anniversary, only yearly vacation, and favorite holiday. It’s really non-negotiable for me to have this time” is more comprehensible to other people.

    As a Con Nerd though, I feel you. GenCon means more to me than Christmas and people don’t get it.

  64. Talula Does the Hula From Hawaii*

    I’m with the OP, she asked about October before accepting the job and should make clear that she won’t do Halloween week at work.
    I am so reminded of Sabrina the teenage witch :)

    Also i totally wish i was invited to the OP’s place at Halloween.

  65. MissDisplaced*

    I’m not really clear how this project became an “every year in October” project? Is that for sure or is it something flexible?
    I get being worried about this, but I also think that since it is the ONE thing, ONE time per year, you can bring it up early next year. And it’s not unusual. I always take the week off of my birthday in March, usually for the whole week or more and (in better times) would travel to Europe. It just makes me feel good to treat myself on my birthday. I see no difference with Halloween.
    And anyway, you take off what, the last week of October. It’s one week of October, not the whole month. So technically you ARE there working on BigProject but for the last week of it.

    1. OP*

      It is something that is new to the company and a new process. So it was not previously in place. When they were kicking around dates, there were various times in the last 3 months of the year they could have implemented it. However, the big wigs decided “ok when we pick X, then that is when it will commence every year”.

      You are also correct that I’ve been here for the whole month so far and helping out with it. I’m just not here for the final push. If things go wrong, I’m not available to help is the other concern. Hopefully there are no issues.

      1. twocents*

        Ah that’s understandable. November and December are almost always guaranteed to be worse times for their employees (collectively) than October.

  66. James*

    A lot of people in the SCA take two weeks off for Pensic. Most are up front with their bosses about it in the interview stage. I’ve literally heard people say “I’m going to be taking these two weeks off every year; if that’s a problem, this isn’t the job for me”. Yes, it costs them some opportunities, but it’s worth it to them.

    I also know a lot of people who take off during their spouse’s time off. My wife’s a teacher, so her schedule is pretty rigid. Mine is far more loose. So when she has off I try to take off. It’s just what works for us. We may go somewhere, or we may re-carpet a room in the house, it just depends. I also schedule a major work event (I consider it the end of my work year) around my son’s birthday–I missed one for the company, and they gave me this project to manage, so I will NOT miss another.

    My point is, a business relationship is just that: a relationship. A company doesn’t own you, and you’re allowed to set healthy boundaries. It’s GOOD to do so. If you don’t you burn out or become resentful, which hurts everyone, you and the company. There are whole reams of studies on this.

    It sounds like you’ve made all the reasonable accommodations. You’re working with the team up-front to make sure everything’s covered, you’re pushing hard up front to reduce the load when you’re gone, etc. Especially since it’s a recurring thing, and it’s something that managers and the team can plan for well in advance, I don’t see a problem with it.

    As an aside, I think what you’re doing is fantastic. Halloween is my favorite time of year as well. I collect skulls, bones, dried frogs, and the like, and have always had a morbid streak–I grew up on Poe and Byron and the like. I don’t do scary movies, but I love the macabre aspect of the season. My wife is less enthusiastic about the whole thing, but she knew who she was marrying. Happy Halloween, and enjoy it!!

  67. Sparkles McFadden*

    I can’t stand Halloween but I would delighted to work with someone who gets so much joy out of it.

    Don’t worry about asking for the time. It’s not that weird. People have all kinds of recurring events they don’t want to miss.

    I’d wait until you’re there for a bit, longer and bring it up during a slow period. Just say you have a lot of family events around October that are important to you, and use Alison’s script. I wouldn’t bring up Halloween specifically until you know everyone a bit better. I worked with someone who would take time off to set up a big haunted house, so it’s really not that odd.

  68. Daisy-dog*

    I think LW should ask in January. Say that you like to plan your time-off for the year and that you would like to make big plans in October. It gives a wide buffer to allow the project deadline to be set around those days. It also gives you plenty of time to job search in case this has become a permanent busy season.

    1. Not Tom, Just Petty*

      Seconded. No need to be coy or concerned. Just be matter of fact, “I want to get this on the books so we can plan around it.” It’s really how it’s done.

  69. Can I Not?*

    I should ask for Halloween off. Not because I love Halloween, but because I really hate it. I don’t want to dress up and everyone in the office likes to. We have to do group costumes. And then take pictures. I have a few coworkers who take the day off for their birthday, and since Halloween is my birthday it wouldn’t even seen weird.
    I think you should be able to take time off when you want to. For whatever reason you want. I took last Wednesday off just because. I have a coworker who always takes two weeks off end of November/start of December so she can set up her Christmas trees and bake. Do what makes you happy.

  70. Western Rover*

    a long weekend for your birthday … and you could never be disturbed on either side of Valentine’s Day

    I annually attend a 3-day writers’ conference (speculative fiction, not related to my paid job) that falls on or near Valentine’s Day (depending on the year) — and my birthday also happens to be during that same time span. So for the last decade I always take a long weekend for both my birthday and V Day — but only one long weekend for the both.

  71. Pickaduck*

    My job knows I do not work Labor Day weekend, ever! I will work any other holiday. So not so different.

  72. Michelle Smith*

    I wish I had anything in my life I care about as much as OP cares about Halloween. OP sounds like an extremely fun person to know and that energy brought me joy on this bleak Monday.

  73. Lizcase*

    I have a couple days in August booked off every year (except the last two cause pandemic) to go to a festival I’ve been going to for almost 25 years. It is the only time-off I’m adamant about, and I’ll make compromises to make it happen. It is super important to me even if the festival might seem like a silly thing to others.

    I’m with you OP! You’ve got the days off, so take them!

  74. wine dude*

    You said “set up my house for the ultimate scare for the neighborhood children”. I would make sure to talk about that when you do broach the subject in a couple months. I bet the kids would miss it if you didn’t get to do this. Happy haunting!

    1. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

      Second this – when my kids were growing up, we all (kids and parents) knew where the cool houses were in the neighborhood, and looked forward to seeing them decorated every year.

  75. All Outrage, All The Time*

    I wouldn’t mention you want time off in relation to Halloween. I would just say that the last week of October/insert relevant dates is the best time for your family to have a vacation together (even if that’s a staycation) and you’d like to be reliably able to take that time off so you and your husband can plan for it in advance. I absolutely would not say the reason is Halloween.

  76. Coder von Frankenstein*

    LW, your passion for Halloween is awesome. If I were your coworker, I would go out of my way to make sure you got to do your Halloween celebration in style.

  77. LifeBeforeCorona*

    You choose your hills. Personally, I’m working on Halloween because it has more meaning for someone else and I’ve never felt comfortable dressing up in a costume. The co-worker is very appreciative that I’m taking the day. It’s the same with Christmas, I’ve had so many over the years I can give it a miss and let someone else enjoy it.

  78. One Banana Two Banana*

    Alison asked about people who request a lot of time off.
    I previously worked with someone like that. He took all of his vacation, plus unpaid time off. He was really nasty when other people wanted time off and especially when I refused to cancel my scheduled vacation to cover for him so that he could go on a last-minute vacation.
    That said, people generally tried to accommodate him.

    1. WS*

      Yeah, I’ve worked with those kind of people (their time is sacrosanct, your time is unimportant) and I’ve also worked with people who took plenty of time off but were clear about it in advance and would work around other people’s holidays etc. Currently I work with someone who likes to take Fridays off (unpaid now that she’s used her leave) so she and her husband can take their new caravan for a trip. But if someone else really needs that Friday, she’ll swap without complaining about it.

    2. cncx*

      yup, i worked with someone like that. i had worked every christmas for ten years and i needed to take one single day off December 27th for something my best friend had on, volunteered to be reachable, and he was like “but I have a family you don’t” bro you’re not even christian and anyway it’s December 27th… wound up working about three hours that night because he had to be off for reasons i don’t completely understand even though he was basically off from december 15th to january 15th

  79. twocents*

    My employer gives us paid personal holiday days that you can use on any days of personal importance, and they’re to be treated like any other holiday, meaning managers are HEAVILY dissuaded from ever asking employees to swap those days off. Situations like this OP make me understand why my company did that vs just adding more PTO days to the bank.

  80. Bookworm*

    OP, I think this is reasonable. You love this holiday. You’re willing to work on the “traditional” holidays where it gets tricky for coverage. Maybe others wouldn’t understand it but that you’re willing to be available, work other holidays, have a good relationship with the team who can handle it, etc. should mean this should be fine.

    I hope you have a great Halloween! Enjoy!

    1. enslore*

      Yes! As a manager I am delighted when members of my team have holidays more important to them than Christmas etc. It makes it easier to schedule cover and is one of the less talked about advantages of having a diverse team. (Less talked about rightly I believe as it’s a lesser factor compared to doing the right thing and making a better product).

      1. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

        “It me.” I grew up celebrating New Year instead of Christmas (since the whole country was atheist, at least that was the expectation) and it is still my favorite holiday. As for Christmas, I could take it or leave it. Now that my children are having the issue of having to split Christmas between their and their SO’s families, I’m more than happy to let the other families have the Christmas eve, or Christmas day, or whatever their hearts desire. Could easily see myself working on that day to cover for the rest of my team, too. But New Year to me is sacred. Nobody understands it. I haven’t had to work on the night of yet, but came close quite a few times. And I can never explain it to anyone at work why that day is important to me. To everyone else, it’s just a random day off that they get a few days after Christmas for no reason at all, and they expect me to see it the same way, but I can’t.

    1. BooRadley*

      LW…..are you my former coworker from a small nonprofit in NYC?!!! I worked with an awesome person who made it clear that being off for Halloween and preferably the day before and after, was a hill she would die on and was non negotiable. We once had an insane international event that we were hosting and once the date became clear that it would be October 30, she didn’t miss a beat before reminding us that she was unavailable that day under any circumstances.

  81. Pipe Organ Guy*

    For me, at my regular Sunday job, I’m going to play Bach’s Toccata and Fugue in D minor as the postlude. In the evening we have a Halloween party to go to. Yet work has figured out how to intrude; some mandatory training that will happen in mid-November (on my days off, of course) has something Halloween night that we’re supposed to participate in, as training for how the remote sessions mid-November are supposed to work. They’ve said they’ll record them, and I need to let them know that no, Halloween night is not appropriate, and yes, I’ll need the recording. The joys of working for a church….

    1. allathian*

      Oh my. That’s one of my absolutely favorite classical pieces, and while I’m not religious at all, hearing a live rendition of Bach’s Toccata and Fugue in D minor on a full organ is on my bucket list. Someday…

  82. The Witch of Sanity's Annex*

    LW, I salute you. From a fellow “The end of October is my non-negotiable PTO” worker, stick to yer guns. I usually begin prepping them in September by saying things like: “I know the (insert meeting topic) meetings are held every other week, but I wanted to make sure you knew I have approved PTO on (date when the meeting will be) and so won’t be attending.”

  83. Eppy*

    I was in a similar position when I started my current job (system administration,) and I was straightforward with my future boss – I get a couple of weeks around Easter to go to (and recover from) an anime convention. It obviously hasn’t been a thing for the past two years, but it’s an understanding I have with my boss and it’s worked out well because of clear communication and expectations.

    In my example, the expectations are: don’t bother me unless it’s important for the week before con*, things had damn well better be on fire if you bother me *during* the convention, I’m probably not going to answer the phone the following Monday because I’ll be asleep, and you probably shouldn’t ask me to come in the rest of the days (unless it’s really needed) because of con crud.

    In return, there’s an understanding that pretty much any other vacation is interruptable for a good reason – just don’t mess with the few solid days off I get per year. Assuming the LW’s boss is as reasonable as they sound, being clear about these expectations (and clear on what they get in return!) should work out well IMO.

    * The con is a 501(c)3 nonprofit, and everyone’s an unpaid volunteer (including the Board.) I like to keep my staff year-to-year when possible, so I spend 4-6 days shuffling the schedule around to accommodate what everyone wants to see at the con if I can do it while keeping appropriate staffing levels. This is tedious, but it isn’t going to throw me off *too* badly if I get interrupted during it.

  84. Project Problem Solver*

    LW, I have no advice on how to approach this with your manager, but I wanted to second Alison’s comment that you get to pick what’s important to you. I’m about to take a week off for the next release of my favorite video game, and it’s absolutely no one’s business that I’m going to be sitting 6 inches from my work computer playing games on my home computer.

    So use Alison’s suggestions, but also keep in mind that your passions are just as valid as someone who has to have like, fishing opener off.

  85. K*

    Bring it up now. Stress you’re willing to work on any other holiday *but* that one. I frankly think most businesses have far more staff crunches around Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s than they do around Halloween.

    And honestly? The concerns about what people think about the time you’re taking off are irrelevant. You’re given PTO for a reason and they have no business asking you or even caring about what you need it for. It ought to matter that *you live for this* and frankly the tradeoff on your morale of taking it away from you would be self-defeating for them.

    If they could manage without you this week this year, they can probably manage without you this same week next year. That’s what organizations have to do when their employees take PTO. And again, they’re going to be in big trouble come Christmas season if they can’t handle one person out for a week in October.

  86. Freelance Everything*

    The fact your Wedding Anniversary is included in your booked time off actually makes this easier. If you’re really worried about the judgement from co-workers, you can lean more on the anniversary side of it.

  87. Mel Bee*

    “a week off for the 4th of July and a long weekend for your birthday and a week at Halloween and you could never be disturbed on either side of Valentine’s Day” – Actually that all sounds pretty reasonable to me, and there would even be annual leave left over for more mini breaks.

  88. Vered*

    Still, though, you get to have a thing you need to be off for. If you had a bunch of them — if you required a week off for the 4th of July and a long weekend for your birthday and a week at Halloween and you could never be disturbed on either side of Valentine’s Day — that would be unreasonable at most jobs.

    I’m curious where the line is between reasonable and unreasonable. The above scenario is about 14 days off, I think. In a bad year (when none of them fall on the weekend) I have 13 non-negotiable (I will quit before I work them) non-consecutive days of religious holidays during which I am 100% unreachable by anything short of physically coming to find me in person, in addition to the same situation every Friday night/Saturday day. I bring this up before accepting any job, request my time off months in advance, don’t take actual vacations, and will work 12-14 hour days before or after any of these holidays if the business needs me to. But is this also unreasonable at most jobs and I am coming across as entitled and out of touch?

    1. Youth*

      I think that’s different than needing long chunks of time around multiple major holidays.
      Part of the problem of taking time off is are a lot of other people also going to want time off then? And is it feasible for all of you to be off? For instance, my industry is pretty dead around Christmas so everyone can have as much time then as they want. But in other industries, it wouldn’t be acceptable for everyone to insist on taking time around Christmas. Someone would have to be flexible.

    2. Mel Bee*

      I think it’s unreasonable to work 12-13hr days just to take off time you are entitled too. Employees do not owe their workplaces their lives.

  89. TQB*

    LW, if you’re telling me that no one falls on the ground and kisses your feet for your willingness to cover for folks between 12/24-1/1, PLEASE go work somewhere that appreciates you!!

  90. I Ship It*

    I take two to three days off at the height of our busy season to work the 4-H County Fair. The others in my office know how to do my job long enough to hold down the fort for a few days, and I will answer the phone if one of them calls (because they will only call if they REALLY need me to deal with something). This was not something I had going on when I was hired. It is something now, and it’s pretty much a given that for two or three days in July, when we are at our busiest, I am going to be incommunicado, and everyone accepts that. You take your time, and have your fun!

  91. Former_Employee*

    The OP is focused on Halloween, but she doesn’t have to tell anyone that’s the reason behind her request for time off. She can say that she and her spouse are very sentimental about their wedding anniversary and always celebrate for however much time she feels she needs off, whether it’s 2 days or a week.

    It’s no one’s business that the reason they got married on October 31st is because they are both into Halloween.

  92. Ellena*

    I want to give LW a hug. Of course she gets to care about Halloween and she sounds like she meticulously plans and more than makes up for her absence (Thanksgiving,Christmas, all the birthdays… I hope it’s not really necessary to sacrifice them all). I wish you many many great Halloweens down the road :)

  93. Ana Ng*

    I have an employee who is obsessed with Halloween. He got engaged on Halloween. We don’t work holidays, or weekends, but we do have a deadline this week, and sometimes work overflows to Sunday, which this year, is Halloween. I’ve already let his coworkers know not to expect anything to get done on Saturday or Sunday, because he set that expectation up in his interview. Five years ago. Bob don’t work Halloween. Also, I think he’s just a tiny bit jealous that my kid was born this week but his was born in April. Because contrary to what some letter writers have implied, it’s really difficult to control when you get pregnant and make it fall around the holidays you want.

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