Ontario schools axe Halloween celebration for more inclusive Spirit Day

An Ontario school that feels Halloween is too exclusive an event has cancelled its holiday celebrations and replaced them with the toned down, more inclusive Spirit Day.

The Welland Tribune reported Port Colborne's McKay Public School told parents last week that children in costumes were not welcome and instead recommended they wear black and orange clothing.

A Halloween dance was also cancelled, which angered some parents who felt their children were missing out on something really special. The Tribute reports that another school in St. Catharines, Ont., has also cut back on Halloween costumes.

One Port Colborne parent told the newspaper she would organize a costume parade to be held outside the school. Consider it an Occupy Halloween movement enforcing a child's right to dress as a ghost or Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle.

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In this age of cultural over-sensitivity, this is not the first time Halloween has been set aside for a less religious version. Although if Halloween is considered too secular, with its vague Christian influences long ago stripped of meaning or relevance, we may be in some trouble.

A rash of U.S. schools in Illinois, Oregon and Pennsylvania stopped celebrating Halloween last year. Schools in Barrie, Ont., and Calgary have also recently banned Halloween costumes. A Hamilton school banned costumes in 2011 for what it said were safety reasons.

In most cases, however, the reason for the change is cultural. It is, after all, a formerly pagan ritual co-opted by Christianity and later co-opted by the junk food industry.

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An essay posted by the Canadian Council of Muslim Theologians, for example, opposes Muslim children participating in Halloween. "Although it hurts to feel left out when everyone is having a good time, a Muslim should take solace in the fact that the enjoyment of this world is temporary while the enjoyment of Paradise is everlasting," the essay concludes.

The Vatican also recently condemned Halloween as anti-Christian, referring to its "undercurrent of occultism."

Nowadays, everything that has a whiff of religion is opposed by one group or another. Halloween has long ago been shed of its religious context, save for all those wiccans out there. Perhaps the only way to celebrate anything is to find something every religion opposes, and just give it a pass.

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