We’ve been talking a lot about how October 1, along with May 1, are traditionally the biggest moving days of the year, and naturally got a lot of folks asking why that is. Our assumption was that it was pegged to the seasons: That no one in his or her right mind would choose to move in the extremes of winter or summer. But we decided to do a little digging – internet-style – into the origins of the fall and spring moving rituals, and found we were not too far off. According to Wikipedia, the May 1 tradition got its start in New York:
Moving Day was a tradition in New York City dating back to colonial times and lasting until after World War II. On February 1, sometimes known as “Rent Day”, landlords would give notice to their tenants what the new rent would be after the end of the quarter, the tenants would spend good-weather days in the early spring searching for new houses and the best deals and on May 1 all leases in the city expired simultaneously at 9:00 AM, causing thousands of people to change their residences, all at the same time.
And the October 1 day has a similar origin, actually tracing back to rural Europe, according to the Encyclopedia of Chicago History:
The Chicago tradition of moving on the first of May or October can be traced to English and Dutch rural festivals. In parts of England, May 1 was known as “Pack Rag Day,” the day on which servants would gather their belongings in a bundle and change their employers at hiring fairs. Michaelmas Day (September 29) or Old Michaelmas Day (October 10) was also a time when farmhands would change employment.
Until 1911, Chicago actually had a law in place requiring all moves to occur on October 1 or May 1, but that tradition has held to the present day. So expect to be dodging plenty of moving trucks today and throughout the weekend!
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