Well, less than two hours after I expressed my affection for Halloween, I now have to express my anger. Over the last few years, we have seen a growing number of schools across the country banning students from wearing costumes on Halloween, and some even going so far as to ban mention of the day all together. Most recently, a public school district in Springfield, Illinois has been added to the list, because administration cites the costumes as being “disruptive”. While that very well may be their reason, most likely, the reasons from other schools are a lot more political. Before we go blaming the liberal left for being too politically correct, let me just point out that if anyone would want to ban children from celebrating this holiday in school, it would actually be the religious right, because Halloween began as a pagan holiday, and there are still many sects of Christianity that believe the celebration of it today is evil, unholy and godless. Gee, such strong words for little kids going around asking for candy, I know, but this is the world we live in. Either the left is trying to destroy Christmas, or the right is trying to destroy Halloween, it all amounts to the uneasy world that the children of this generation are growing up in.
Both sides to the story are asinine, and I believe that people of all faiths should be able to express their feelings on the day of their major holiday. As I wrote about last winter, when I tackled the political correctness of the
Christmas Holiday Season, do people really get upset, or do they just have too much time on their hands? What would happen if the horror of a Jewish person saying “Happy Hanukkah” to a Christian would ensue, or vice versa? Would both people suddenly spontaneously combust? We are seeing it with Halloween now, where people who do not care to partake in such a fun holiday are upset by seeing those who do. Basically, it’s like, “If I can’t have any fun, neither will you.” When I was in elementary school, I distinctly remember a girl in our class who was a Jehovah’s Witness. She was not allowed to wear a costume or eat any of the candy/food we had during our party. But she was not nasty about it, and she actually enjoyed looking at the costumes worn by the other children. She did not seem too upset at all—she had her religious convictions, and was perfectly fine with seeing those who differ from her celebrate the holiday. I gather her parents were fine with it too, because otherwise they would have kept their child out of school that day, because there was never any real work given out to begin with.
But no, now it has to eclipse that. Saying that costumes disrupt schoolwork is not a good enough excuse. Halloween is only one single day out of the entire year. What that amounts to is 179 other days for children to work in school. Maybe they can have the teachers plan “fun” work that day, involving the holiday and how it has transformed from the pagan, Celtic feast of Samhain to what we all know and love today. Heck, maybe they will even learn something and not even know it. There are plenty of documentaries and activities to do on that one day that would make everybody happy.
Throughout my life, the celebration of this day has transformed right before my very eyes. When I was in elementary school, the wearing of costumes was encouraged, and we even had contests throughout the day. Then, when I got to 5th grade, our district shifted schools around, and my new school became K through 6th. The principal specifically told us that we 5th and 6th graders should not wear costumes, because it was something for the younger children only, and we should show “maturity”. That pissed off our parents some, because we were still only 10 or 11 at that time. When I moved on to middle school, costumes were once again encouraged, and the same in high school, where many of the teachers put us students to shame with the extravagant costumes they came in with. There was little or no work that day, and it was actually a fun time to be in school. While I cannot say what my former schools are doing now, except for that episode I experienced while in 5th and 6th grade, Halloween was generally a positive day, and if it fell on the weekend, we would just dress up on the nearest Friday.
Halloween is yet another holiday being destroyed by politics. I am not going to lay the final blame on a particular party or ideology here. The two sides continuously ruin the lives of adults, but now they are ruining the lives of the kids. The world is terrible enough as it is, so do we need to keep going that extra step? One day out of the year, people are allowed to dress funny and have fun at work or school. It is a tradition that has been around for generations, and it is one that needs to stay in place. This holiday is a part of our American culture, and it is time more people stood up to protect it.