War on Halloween? The rise of costume bans and ‘orange & black days’ in Canadian schools
It’s a tradition most people grew up doing: dressing up as a witch, goblin or zombie for Halloween and heading to school to show off the costume.
But some schools across Canada are putting an end to this tradition, and instead, coming up with a new way to celebrate the spooky and candy-riddled day.
READ MORE: New Winnipeg school bans Halloween costumes
This Halloween, a Winnipeg elementary school is banning costumes and instead students can participate in spirit week.
The school’s administration decided to have four different themed dress-up days during the week in which Halloween falls. On Oct. 31, it will be “tie and scarf” day.
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The principal at École Sage Creek School, Marc Poirier, said this decision was made because some kids wore scary or gory costumes that frightened younger children. Other children felt left out if they didn’t have an elaborate costume.
And some families do not celebrate Halloween and sometimes keep their children at home on Oct. 31, he said.
Orange and black day
This isn’t the first Canadian school to put the kibosh on Halloween celebrations.
Robert Thornton Public School in Whitby, Ont., stopped having a Halloween costume day at school several years ago. And the principal, Nazneen Dindar, said the reaction has been positive.
“On the actual day of Halloween, we have an orange and black day as part of spirit week,” Dindar said. “This helps with issues as a lot of people don’t recognize Halloween and often don’t feel included.”
She said if students want to dress up and celebrate the scary festivities, the school offers a Halloween night with lots of activities. The children can choose to come after hours, dress up and bring their parents.
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‘A bit over the top’
Jackie Culley, who lives in Winnipeg, said her two children will be dressing at school for Halloween this year, but she is using “common sense” when it comes to costume ideas.
“There should be more fun costumes than ones that scare children,” Culley said. “There are certainly children in school whose families may not be comfortable with Halloween.”
She said she understands some families may not want to partake in Halloween activities but does not agree with banning costumes altogether.
“It’s a bit over the top. Maybe instead, the parent could have a field day trip with that child if they are uncomfortable.”
Kathy Lynn, a parenting speaker and author based in Vancouver, agrees.
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“I think we have taken everything so far these days. Kids know it’s fantasy,” she said. “It’s the adults who are getting upset. Why can’t we just relax and let kids have fun? They are just pretending for a day.”
She said if you have a child that may be scared of some Halloween costumes, try preparing them the night before.
“Tell them who they can go to in case they are scared, like a teacher. And talk with your kids about how it’s just a costume and not real.”
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