Tuesday, November 5, 2013

My Close Relationship with Halloween

I have always felt a close, personal connection with Halloween. Aside from it being my birthday (the best possible day to be born, if you ask me), it is the one time of the year where you can be someone or something else. Ignoring what happens to Halloween costumes at the collegiate level (Black boy shorts, a little tank top, and cat ears), Halloween in elementary school is nothing short of awesome!
Whether you and your friends dressed as the Little Rascals, you and a playmate were Fred Flintstone and Barney Rubble, or you were your favorite super hero, there was always a sense of pride marching in your school's parade flaunting your alter ego.
Growing up, class-moms would deliver ghostly cupcakes, popcorn balls, and various "potions" to the classroom after lunch. We would play themed games, talk about our costumes, have contests, and learn a little about Halloween. It was a free afternoon to play and take some time off from long division and memorizing state capitals.

Times, however, are a'changin'. A friend of mine teaches in Northern New Jersey and because of the food allergy epidemic, Halloween candy is off the table, literally. Similarly other schools, because of the obesity situation in this country, require treats to be healthy. I'm not sure about you but I think carrots on Halloween are about as exciting as the old lady that gives out pennies.
Although a little old, an article written by Dennis Byrne in 2009 for www.chicagonow.com, mentioned that many schools are replacing "Halloween" with "Fall Festivals" because of the negative connotations associated with the name and the pagan celebration. He adds that 66% of adults do not agree with the name change while 15% are not sure. Just last year, Halloween was banned in Isaac Preschool on Phoenix, AZ because they wanted to "keep the focus on learning". The year before Ithaca, NY canceled their Halloween parade because it excluded students of diverse backgrounds and in Massachusetts they not only sassed Halloween but warned teachers to "be careful" about celebrating Thanksgiving and Columbus Day (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/10/31/arizona-parent-jason-bake_n_2049756.html).
Maybe this will cause a rise out of some readers but c'mon man


Trick or Treating has changed from roaming the towns with a pack of friends and pillow cases to "organized play" and trips to the mall, walking from store to store. A fact that makes me very sad. No, I am not naive enough to think we live in a world of sunshine and lollipops where my son should wander on his own, ringing doorbells of strangers at all hours, but I do feel that my town, as a community, has more good eggs than rotten and can celebrate the holiday as we did in the days of 'ole when gas was only 99 cents a gallon and cell phones only made phone calls.