Being the new kid is always hard, but when friends of ours moved out of the neighborhood recently, their two girls looked on the bright side: they would finally be allowed to wear costumes to school on Halloween! Their previous school is notorious for not allowing observation of any holidays, and even schedules picture day on October 31 (I can only guess to discourage kids from skirting the rules by wearing orange and black or any other Halloween-themed items). While I get why the administration might have done this, to be honest, I’ve never met parents of kids attending this school who are happy about the complete absence of celebrations there.
Meanwhile, my children have attended two different schools only minutes away, and have always been allowed to wear costumes to school on Halloween (though the ban on masks and weapons and weapon-like accessories has meant BB#1 has worn a plain black robe twice now, once as a wandless Ron Weasley and once as a sytheless grim reaper). Same neighborhood, same diverse population, same public school board—different rules.
I’m not certain how I feel about banning Halloween in public schools. Like many others my age, I remember being excited about going to school in costume, doing Halloween-themed activities and basically goofing off that day. I’d like for my kids to enjoy that too—what’s wrong with having a little fun now and then? But if it means other kids feel excluded, or some families feel they must keep their children home for the day, is it really worth it? I’m not so sure.
It’s not like my kids wouldn’t have the opportunity to dress up if they weren’t allowed to at school. Halloween isn’t cancelled. Families can still decorate at home, carve a pumpkin, hand out candy, go trick-or-treating if they choose to. I also loved Christmas Concerts back in the day, but have absolutely no problem with schools today having more inclusive Winter Concerts. Again, it’s not like families can’t still observe Christmas if they wish, however they wish—last I checked, schools still close for two weeks around this one day! And while I am personally already looking forward to having the boys home in December, [opens another can of worms] I have to wonder how appropriate it is to continue to build the school calendar around Christian holidays—is that truly reflective of the Canadian population today?
Fortunately, instead of banning holidays and celebrations in an effort not to exclude anyone, the schools my boys have attended take the opposite approach: they celebrate and encourage discussion of a variety of religious and cultural days. And I’d like to think that through learning some of the ways we’re different, children will learn to appreciate the ways we are the same.
Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to help my kids figure out costumes that are both cool, and acceptable for school…