It is that spooky time of year when Canadian parents and students in small pockets around the country bristle at being told their schools will not be celebrating Halloween this year.
Instead, children will be welcome to celebrate something a little safer, something that doesn’t have its roots in the occult. Call it Spirit Day, or Black and Orange Day, or just Friday.
This year’s Ground Zero for anti-Halloween outrage is Windsor, Ont., where parents are unhappy that Anderon Public School has barred Halloween costumes and parties.
The Windsor Star reports that the public elementary school has instead implemented “Black and Orange Day.” Which, y’know, are the colours of the Halloween season.
There will be no parade, and costumes are outright discourages, with the school saying it would neat if kids wore black and orange clothing. Though it’s not all trick, there will be some treat: Classes are welcome to hold discussions about the history of Halloween and the different customs that have been practiced over the years.
On its website, Anderon Public Elementary School says they stopped allowing candy a few years ago, and the latest shift is to meet its commitment to inclusivity:
Halloween is an exciting time of year for many families. However, in some Anderdon households it is not observed at all, and therefore a school wide celebration presents with some anxiety around that day for many of our students.
The observation of Halloween is not part of the curriculum and is a tradition that is celebrated by some but not inclusive to all.
That’s the part that riles some parents - the idea of inclusivity through limitations.
“Parents are upset about seeing Canadians continually give up traditions and losing sight of accepting others for whoever they are,” parent Shannon Taylor told the Star.
“My nine-year-old son came home (last Friday) and said, ‘Mom, they’re taking away everything that was fun at school.’”
The Windsor school isn’t alone. North Ward School in Paris, Ont., is banning Halloween for the first time this year for a variety of reasons, including the increased level of supervision needed to monitor the appropriateness of costumes, and the frequency with which hot, uncomfortable costumes make children cry during class.
A London, Ont., school board candidate actually ran on the promise to deny schools the right to ban Halloween based on the fact there is no board policy on the matter.
This issue is by no means new. In recent years, a handful of schools join the movement against Halloween.
Last year, the popular Halloween alternative was “Spirit Day,” so at least we are making progress on that front. Black and Orange Day at least acknowledges that October 31 was once Halloween.
Now it has just been given a maudlin name to avoid offending anyone. Sort of like how Ottawa’s CFL team is called the RedBlacks, because who’s going to get offended and mount a petition against a couple of random words smashed together?
While Halloween has its roots in Christianity, that influence is gone completely at this time. The Vatican recently condemned Halloween for its “undercurrent of occultism.”
Either way, it is increasingly becoming a non-starter in Canadian schools. And parents are noticing.
Just wait until classes start marking Dec. 25 with Red and White Ho Ho Happy Day.