Halloween: Too Scary for Kids?

Hi Readers — and BOO!

Oh my God! Sorry! I hope your kids weren’t reading over your shoulder! I didn’t mean to scare the little dears — it could traumatize them for life! Imagine the psychiatric bills — or years in the insane asylum!

That’s the way we’re supposed to think of kids now: Too delicate for ANYTHING, including, apparently, being even slightly spooked by a holiday hitherto dedicated to  spookiness. As this New York Times article documents, schools and community centers across the country are asking that kids not wear any disturbing, scary or politically incorrect costumes.

I guess that means no ghosts, gobblins, witches, ghouls, vampires or — scariest of all — Halloween festivity organizers.

Hope yours is a happy holiday despite all this. — Lenore (who’s allowing her children to eat unwrapped candy. For real. Boo!)

72 Responses

  1. On the radio this morning they were advising parents not to be too concerned that candy might be infected by H1N1. They also suggested having candy on hand to swap out any that you may not want your child to eat.

  2. Dr. Oz, according to my sister, is advising not to trick-or-treat due to H1N1. We were both like, Yeah right…
    Me? I’m planning to cover the 3 year old and myself with ketchup tonight to participate in Zombie Walk 2009. We got the world record last year, then lost it to Seattle, and are trying to win it back. Guiness will be on hand. The book, not the beer. Well, maybe that too. I’m quite sure he’ll be just fine.
    Off to the store now with me for ketchup and makeup. Yippee! Then Saturday, the rather tamer Buzz Lightyear will be ringing doorbells with all the other kids in our neighborhood.
    No teacup-in-training around these parts.

  3. pretty soon they’ll start suggesting that we put them inside a bubble as soon as they are born….exposure to LIFE is what makes us all human, we can’t pretend that we live in a bubble, think what kind of adults we’ll be creating.

    My daughter went to school today and didn’t think anything of the dragon, chicken, wood fairy, peacock, tree, farmer, & airline pilot that were all sitting beside her today. And….gasp I’ve been reading a Halloween book about a skeleton “the bones of Fred McPhee,” at first she was scared, and it was my job as a parent to help get it to her level of understanding and to take away the too scary factor. Now she loves the books and giggles at his dancing bones!

  4. My boys went to school for “Black and Orange Day” today. Absolutely no Halloween costumes allowed! I can’t tell you how much this infuriates me.

    Also, our newspaper advised parents that we should carry hand sanitizer on Halloween so the little ghosts and goblins can clean between houses so as not to spread H1N1. Can you imagine?

  5. I was hoping you’d cover Halloween paranoia Lenore!

    It all started back in the late 60s when there was a case of a LSD laced treat. It was well publicized and parents were advised to go through the candy and reject apples and anything not well wrapped.

    Then you have a small section of the Christian community who think it’s a Satanic holiday. What a bunch of killjoys they are!

    You have the Helicopters who won’t let the kiddos roam the neighborhood without strict supervision, no matter how old they are. I see some of them who drive the kids around, and wait in the car while the kids get out to trick or treat, God forbid anyone have to walk on their own two feet.

    Then you have the real paranoid set that will only let their kids attend carefully supervised Harvest festivals, thinking trick or treating is just too dangerous. Nothing against Harvest festivals, but nothing can replace the uniquely American tradition of trick or treating! It’s truly a wonderful part of our culture.

    Now you have the psychobabble crowd thinking that the costumes will damage the kids emotionally? Good grief!

  6. “Do not be overly concerned about your child choking or dying from fright this Halloween”
    “Wait. What? My kid could die of fright?!”

    “There is no real concern about H1N1 being in your kids’ candy.”
    “There’s swine flu in my kids’ candy!?”
    *Runs to store and buys childsize tupperware container*

  7. Okay, I admit, I did talk my nine year old out of dressing up as a murderer. That just seemed to cross a line. I didn’t force the decision on him but did weigh heavily AGAINST the murderer costume. Instead he’s going as a “ghost of a bloody dead guy”. Now that I can handle. Doesn’t seem as IN YOUR FACE in some twisted sort of way.

    And on a different note, I’d like to bring attention to the mom in our n’hood who emailed the n’hood list serve wanting to know WHO WOULD BE HOME BETWEEN 6 and 6:30 so she could SCHEDULE their trick or treating map. What the…???

  8. Actually, the concerns in this article don’t seem too bad to me. They were policy when I was in grade school 25 (eek!) years ago. The schools aren’t trying to keep out witches, vampires and ghosts. They’re trying to keep out six-year-old Jasons and Saw dudes, and they’re trying to smack down kids who think it’d be funny to come to school as “a retard”.

    I’m guessing the “no swords” rules are as much for the teacher’s sanity as anything else, since the kids who bring such props are usually the same kinds of kids who would spend the whole day smacking their classmates with it.

    But as usual, with these types of blanket memos, the ones who are likely to offend will throw it straight in the trash and let their six-year-old go as the Saw dude “because he’s seen all five, they’re his favorites.” The responsible parents will be wondering if their young witches and vampires are too scary and will get in trouble.

  9. @ Bernadette Noll
    LOL… I think when my daughter was 9 she was the grim reaper…
    But that reminded me of the Addams Family and Wednesday…
    “What are you?”
    “A homicidal maniac. We look just like everybody else.”

  10. I had too keep reminding my 5 year old that he couldn’t bring the whip that came with his Indiana Jones costume too school with him. He just couldn’t understand why.

  11. So I guess my plan to dress all four of my sons in Black pants, KMFDM (band) T-Shirts and Trenchcoats carrying toy AK-47’s is a no go?

  12. yeah, my parents were in that small segment of Christians who think Halloween is a Satanic holiday (by their logic, so is Christmas, but they don’t think too hard about that!). My daughter is turning 3 this year, and I am at a loss how to take her trick-or-treating. It’s pathetically sad!

  13. I think it’s crazy kids can’t dress up in costumes for school, but I’m pretty okay with people being encouraged to wash their hands lot during a very public event in the middle of flu season.

  14. What gets me is that these rules, regulations, and scare tactics about H1N1 and predators and unwrapped candy are SCARIER than the zombie, ghost and goblin costumes. Let the kids enjoy something for once!

  15. I’m kind of torn on the hand sanitizer, which sounds more dramatic than it really is. The more accurate phrasing would be that I don’t care–I’d probably wonder if I were being paranoid if I carried it, and wonder if I were being cavalier if I didn’t. I guess it doesn’t seem like that big a deal either way. I’d rather see parents carry hand sanitizer than keep their kids home.

    Since I’m staying home and handing out candy, I’m going to go with the other suggestion I heard, which was to put the candy in the kids’ bags myself, instead of letting them reach into the bowl. That limits the number of hands and germs in the bowl, and helps pace the candy distribution.

    Then again, that’s how I hand out candy every year.

  16. The mode of transmission for the H1N1 is primarily respiratory droplet. So, in order to avoid it one would need to wear a simple surgical mask.

  17. Out here we don’t even get to trick or treat on Halloween itself. Sigh. I’m not sure what the rationale is, but there are specific times, and I’ve heard it’s on a school night so that kids won’t be out late being mischievous. (???)

    A neighbor we know baked cupcakes, and my kids went in to her house to get them. (Shock!) No one’s died yet.

    My husband’s and my responsibilities while accompanying our 5-year-olds: keeping them from running into trashcans. They were Charlie Brown-style ghosts and, since they weren’t that still, their eyeholes didn’t line up that well. Plus the sheets were pretty long, even after they were trimmed (again, due to not being still while I cut). So totally the sort of costume people get warned about.

    Oh yeah, and my kids were far more scared by the neighbors’ dogs than they were by even the teenagers’ fake-blood-dripping zombie masks, which did startle them a bit before they asked “is that *real* blood?”

  18. I read a suggestion to not touch the Halloween candy for 3 days to allow any H1N1 germs on the wrappers to die.

    Halloween gets more fun every year, doesn’t it?

  19. I read a suggestion to pass out toothbrushes instead of candy. When I was a kid we avoided those houses.

  20. dar205 — You could just nix the AK-47s. Though that’d probably still freak out the people who still think the Trenchcoat Mafia was actually involved with Columbine…

    Laura — I’ve seen a few churches that follow the belief that Christmas AND Easter aren’t Christian holidays (I don’t think they refered to them as “Satanic” in the way I’ve seen several churches refer to Halloween, though). It’s because most of the holidays we currently celebrate actually stem from pre-Christian traditions (that’s how things like Santa and the Christmas tree come into play). Ironically, from the research I’ve done, Easter actually IS a Christian holiday. The claims that it’s Pagan come pretty much solely from two lines in a single manuscript written in something like the 16th or 17th century. Christmas, however, was originally celebrated by Christians on January 6th (aka “Old Christmas”, the Amish, and I believe Orthodox Christians, still celebrate it then), it was moved to Dec 25th to correspond more with the Pagan celebration of Yule to aid in conversion.

    As for the trick-or-treating dilemma, how about dressing up and going with her? Depending on how mature and confident she is, you could stay on the sidewalk and let her go up to the houses. You could make it a pretty fun outing for the two of you, and could even do complementing costumes (say, for example, a hunter and her dog, or a knight and her horse). It might be a little late for complementing costumes this year, but there’s still next year, and you could still throw something together for this year (a scarecrow is an easy one if you have some ragged clothes and a straw hat).

    One thing we used to do growing up, too, was decorate bags we’d use to trick-or-treat with. In my neighborhood, I always ended up with a huge haul, and so the dinky little pails you get from the store just don’t cut it. If you end up with that kind of haul (and maybe even if you don’t), next year you could decorate one of those reusable grocery bags you can get for like a dollar that she could use for trick-or-treating (I recommend doing it at least a couple days ahead of time, if possible, especially if glue is involved, which is likely). They’re a lot sturdier than paper or plastic bags, too.

  21. when i was very young, we went trick-or-treating with our friends from school and church. as a pre-teen, my parents got sucked into the “satanic holiday” rubbish, and my teenage sisters and i sheeped right after them (i was terrified that the roving bands of satanists would steal my cat, and confined the poor dear every year for years). in college, i started buying halloween candy to pass out. it seemed to me that “sorry, kiddo, i don’t have candy because you’re a devil-worshiper in training…” wasn’t much of a christian attitude. last year, at 3, i asked my son about costumes and trick-or-treating, and he didn’t want to dress up (he didn’t get a choice in previous years- he dressed up and looked cute when people came by). this year, i barely got “costume” out of my mouth when he launched a detailed description of his desired dragon suit and his trick-or-treating dreams. so i’ve been sewing this dragon suit (they don’t make ’em like he wants it), and we’re going trick-or-treating in my in-laws’ neighborhood (our apt complex isn’t fabulous). we also have a standing invitation to trick-or-treat with some church friends. fear- of H1N1, of God’s disapproval (which in this case was completely fabricated by christians), of razor blades (also a high, high improbability), or of cavities (the likeliest threat here)- will not stop us. Now, I have a dragon tail to attach.

  22. “Okay, I admit, I did talk my nine year old out of dressing up as a murderer. That just seemed to cross a line. I didn’t force the decision on him but did weigh heavily AGAINST the murderer costume. Instead he’s going as a “ghost of a bloody dead guy”. Now that I can handle. Doesn’t seem as IN YOUR FACE in some twisted sort of way.”

    I agree, I don’t mind pranks and more or less scary things that comically exaggerated. I’m thinking of vampires, mummies, witches, and werewolves. I feel that the horror movies that are now marketed at this time, do have an affect. Personally as an adult I make a big difference between suspense/thriller compare to gore/horror.

    If the costume is inspired from a rated ‘R’ film, a child shouldn’t be dressed up as that character. Yet I’m leery of my own statement, death or dying doesn’t have to be a rated ‘R’ concept though. I think children need concepts like good & evil, and yes it’s OK to play the bad/scary guy.

  23. Maybe people can dress their kids up as surgeons. They can have them scrub, put on a surgical mask, cap, gown, and booties. That way they can be safe from H1N1 😉

  24. Oh, I forgot the sterile gloves in the above surgeon costume… 😆

  25. Lenore, you really need to do an H1N1 paranoia thread…

  26. There are a bunch of billboards out there in my native PA at this time of year for “Haunted Houses” in the Eastern Pa that are too scary/revolting for me, and I’m 41; but most of the schools I’ve had experience with had reasonable rules.

  27. I love my kid’s school. He’s in 3rd grade. They had an honest to goodness Halloween Parade. The principal was a watermelon. I saw vampires, werewolves, dementors, skeletons. My son was Teddy Roosevelt – wearing his Rough Riders Uniform, and came to school with a sheathed sword and a (blue plastic) pistol (in its holster). No complaints – and the parade was followed by classroom treats – candy, cupcakes and candy apples! Tradition survives in some places!

  28. I admit when I was in high school my brother bought a Halloween mask so scary that… ALL of us were scared by it. We regularly hide the mask in different corners of our house and wait for the scream. He stored it in two layers of bags and stuffed it in the corner of his closet because the mask was scary looking, and when we went out trick or treating we tried not to look at his face. More than a couple of kids saw us and busted out crying.

    … good times.

    I wonder what he did with that mask. It was golden.

  29. You mean there are schools that still celebrate Halloween? I thought it had been replaced by the “Fall Holiday Party.”

  30. I love my kid’s school too. Halloween carnival, Halloween costumes, and *all* the staff dress-up too. (some parents too) There were no memos about costumes or candy (although the kids were told they couldn’t wear any props or masks after the parade in the morning–they could send them home with a parent or pack them away in a backpack). My impression was that this was mainly a matter of having fewer distractions to mess around and fewer things to lose with during the school day.

    I always dress up and go along for the trick-or-treating. Usually it ends up being a loosely-assembled posse of kids, all ages, running ahead of a few moms and dads in costume, who are walking along slowly a half-block behind. Some of us are pushing strollers. We end up carrying the candy buckets towards the end, when they get too heavy. And we help to make them a little lighter, of course. 😉 It’s a pretty fun night to be out!

  31. I always liked to make my own fun Halloween costumes.
    This is a parent and child Halloween costume to mock the protective parents.

    On 2 large pieces of cardboard, draw and cut out the left and right side views of a helicopter.
    Don’t make the tail too long or it may be hard to keep it level.
    Faster the 2 halves together with a pair of shoulder straps or suspenders in the cabin area to hold the costume up.
    Leave the top and bottom of the center cabin section unsealed.
    Slip in between the 2 halves with the suspenders over your shoulders.
    If you find the tail dragging, try fastening another small rope to the back of your belt to help.
    An alternative design is put the tail section of the helicopter on the back side of a box serving as the cabin area that you slip into.
    Wear a nerdy propeller beanie to complete the look.

    Cover your youngster in bubble wrap.
    If they are very young, use a large square with a hole in the center to make a poncho they can slip into.
    Smaller pieces can be taped together to make a large enough piece.
    An added touch is for the child to wear a short leash.

  32. I was kidding, by the way, about the fall party. We do have a huge community-wide Halloween festival around here and a community Halloween parade, but I have heard rumours of some schools in other parts of the country switching to the fall holiday. There is a small Christian fundamentalist miniority that objects to celebrating Halloween, as well as a number of Muslims. And, of course, there are the Jehovah’s Witnesses, who generally just quietly excuse their children from Halloween activities in school rather than insisting no one else enjoy them.

    While I am a great fan of Halloween, and not a great fan of paranoia, I do think it has gotten far too grotesque in recent years, and, because of that, there are certain gruesome looking streets where I will not take my kids (both under 6) trick or treating (because I did last year, not knowing what lay ahead, and they flipped out). Some of the decorations are really, really graphic these days. The adults and teenagers are sucking the wholesome fun out of what was once a little kid’s holiday. They wouldn’t plop a bunch of 5-10 year olds down in front of the horror movie channel and let them watch someone getting hacked up with a chainsaw, yet they’ll run around publicaly in the community and decorate their houses in such a way that young kids are being exposed to something similarly graphic. It isn’t just about little ghouls, ghosts, witches, and vampires anymore.

  33. I have, sadly, seen preschoolers get the pants scared off them by older kids wearing overly gruesome costumes. Parents do need to teach their kids “Hey, have fun, but don’t get in little kids’ faces and make them wet their pants and spoil their fun, ok?” That’s just common courtesy.

    Our school has a halloween parade for the preschoolers through 2nd graders. The third graders go to the local cemetary the same day and do tombstone rubbings as part of their town history project. Today I saw all manner of skeletons, about 15 Darth Vaders, ghosts, ghouls, princesses, witches, and the whole nine yards. Everyone seemed to be having a good time.

  34. My kids’ school had a “no scary costumes” policy, too, but I figure they simply mean nothing really disgusting. After all, several of the teachers dressed up as witches. And I too am always sickened to see grade school kids dressed as characters from rated R horror movies.

  35. Last year the neighbourhood Dad’s took our kids around trick-or-treating. There was a group of about ten 7 year old kids and we let them do the blocks by themselves, only meeting them at the corners of busy streets to cross. The night was fairly routine with breathless arrivals at doorsteps, shouting “trick-or-treat” at the top of their lungs, and growing pillowcases of teeth-rotting goodies,…that is until we approached a dark house that had recently been moved into. We hadn’t yet met the new neighbours, but it looked like they were home, so we encouraged the kids to go up on the front porch and belt out a “trick-or-treat”. Neighbours are only strangers if you haven’t met them yet,… right?

    The kids stepped up onto the porch and just as they were about to yell the magic words, the entire front of the house lit up with images of ghouls, bloodied axes, headless horsemen, vampires, witches and other assorted nastiness,…accompanied by the most shrill cackling, the deepest booming evil laughs, and the ghostly hollow galloping of horses. At first the kids were stunned, some of the more sensitive ones were exhibiting the quivering lip syndrome, but none of us Dads rushed up and tried to calm own any of them, we all reacted the same and just let the situation unfold as it would. The truth is that we were mostly in awe of the super-awesome display of ghoulishness, and trying to figure out how to one-up the house for next year. Actually it turns out that the Dad in the house is an Audio-visual/Computer wiz and a lover of the macabre, so there is no way anyone will outdo him!

    The point is that after a few moments the kids looked around at each other and started laughing, every one of them. They were exited; nervous, intrigued, and genuinely overcome with utter goofiness, but getting the scare of a lifetime put them in touch with all of these emotions and taught them that they could be frightened and safe at the same time. Each one of those kids grew up a little bit that Halloween night, and they are all better off for the experience.

    Last week we walked by the same neighbour’s house and my now 8 year old looked sideways that the place and said, “I wonder what they are going to do this year Dad? I hope its way more scary than last year”. I smiled and said, “Let’s hope so, your young brother really needs a good scaring this year”, followed up by my best Vincent Price evil laugh.

  36. OMG!
    I’m not sure *I* could stand the fright of my little darling dressed as a “Halloween Festivity Organizer”!
    Have a heart!
    That’s *really* scary!

  37. @Laura, if you just don’t know the procedure, I’d recommend the following: dress child up in cute costume (I’d recommend cute over scary for 3, your call or your child’s though, obviously). Around dusk, set out around your neighborhood. Walk to door, ring doorbell (or knock), say “trick or treat,” accept (or select) candy, say thank you. Various bits of oohing and aahing over how cute your kid is in costume will be discussed. How much of this needs to be done by you and how much by your kid is obviously a function of your child’s personality, at that age. We plan to go around our block with our 2.5 year old and I will let him select which houses appear too scary to go to — one, in particular, is done up with really ghoulish stuff that he has already let us know he is frightened of, and I doubt he’ll want to go to that. But most he’ll choose to walk to. I’ll be with him, as I consider 2.5 too young to walk up to doors unaccompanied, but if he can manage it, I’ll let him do the knocking/ringing and “trick or treat!”.

  38. We think of Halloween as a great way to get to know the neighbors. I wish more people thought that way, instead of being scared of their neighbors (because they’ve never actually met them!). Bring on the ghosts and goblins!

  39. Dragonwolf, Ostara/Eostre —> Easter is more well-attested than that. It not-so-coincidentally lines up with the Spring Equinox and the “line in a manuscript” in question is written by one of the most reliable medieval sources. He ain’t called ‘Venerable’ for nothing 🙂

    Also, December 25th is Saturnalia, a Roman holiday. Yule is the winter solstice, so 21st/22nd. Close, but different reasons.

    /pedantic Pagan

    Personally I’m ridiculously excited for my daughter’s first trick or treating experience. She’s 4 months old!

  40. “hey wouldn’t plop a bunch of 5-10 year olds down in front of the horror movie channel and let them watch someone getting hacked up with a chainsaw, yet they’ll run around publicaly in the community and decorate their houses in such a way that young kids are being exposed to something similarly graphic.”

    A stationary display can’t be as graphic as a movie, by definition.

    I grew up watching horror movies and I turned out just fine 🙂 Of course, I totally plan to have skulls and baby doll heads on stakes next year. Bwahahahahahahahahaaha!

  41. I’m sorry to say, Christians have ganked holidays from most pagan religions. It was the simplest and easiest way to ensure that those they conquered accepted their rule. Don’t change the day, but change the meaning… much like what is currently happening to Halloween – “Fall Festival.” I see less and less people bothering to decorate, or even trick-or-treat. Sad but true.

    At any rate – it seems that fundamentalism rules the day now – probably because those Christians that aren’t so gung-ho to smother everyone else with their belief systems are actually ok with Halloween among other things. Squeaky wheel gets the grease, however, so the sobbing minority super-zealot fundamentalists will get their way. It’s only a matter of time before the holiday is completely replaced. Ahhh, just like Roman times.

  42. The sense of menace that animated the holiday is ebbing away, though children try to preserve it: my son, the skull-bashing skeleton. It’s part of the all-children-must-be-winners mentality that’s making everything taste like Wonderbread.

    The disappearance of mischief night is another sad facet of this trend (if welcome as relief to homeowners.)

  43. I went to a highschool that also had junior high and elementary ages children. Some of the high-schoolers obviously wore (sometimes quite realistic) scary costumes (especially since a lot of people were big into theatrics) but I don’t remember anyone wandering over to the elementary section, nor do I remember any elementary kids being terrified of the big kid costumes. Common courtesy to not venture into little kid areas if you actually might terrify them seems to be all it takes.

    On the other hand, my grade 11 physics teacher was asked to leave a few times because he dressed up as a homeless person. Because he offended or terrified? Nope.

    They thought he was a real one.

  44. Today we ate caramel apples in school. The mom had to smuggle them in the back door to avoid the school’s policy of healthy food. They were homemade and unwrapped and against school policy. And, every student ate one!

  45. There is a kind lady in her mid 60’s in our neighbourhood who hands out home-made caramel popcorn balls, she been making them for more than thirty years now. They are simply divine, and many of the kids ask to go their first so they can get one before she runs out. They are more closely guarded than any other treat and usually go before Dad can get his hands on them,…sometimes.

  46. My principal doesn’t like halloween. You know what – he still let the kids dress up. We don’t have parties – never occured to me because we didn’t have them when I was at school.

    We did have Fall Festival/Halloween carnival, when I was a kid. Here the school based ones have seemed to have gone by the wayside. They started as a response to the murder of Timothy O’Bryan by his father.

    I know at our school the principal told the PTO they would have to do the work themselves, because he wasn’t asking the staff to give up Halloween with their families (most of us live in other towns) to run the carnival. I’m glad he did. Now I get to spend the day with Sis , BIL and the kids.

  47. I was dracula when I was in junior kindergarten, even had blood on my face, so I think this is kinda crappy for those kids. Politically incorrect makes sense, you don’t want little Hitler showing up, but ‘scary” what exactly is ‘scary”? Seriously, some kids think spiders are scary, so are they gonna ban spider costumes?

  48. dar205, on October 31st, 2009 at 1:55 am Said:
    So I guess my plan to dress all four of my sons in Black pants, KMFDM (band) T-Shirts and Trenchcoats carrying toy AK-47’s is a no go?


    I bet anything alot fo kids these day shave no idea what they’d be reffering to if they did, it’s not PC to talk about it really,.

  49. I agree that the “precautions” people are taking on are overboard. However, the costume limitations are probably a result of the complete lack of sense that many parents seem to have these days when it comes to what they allow their kids to wear. I’m a teacher, and I see 4-6 grade girls come to school in completely inappropriate “sexy” attire for everyday–and Halloween? Seriously gory makeup and often even more inappropriately sexy costumes. We’re not talking about a little trickle of blood from a vampire mouth or a cute witch’s hat here, but costumes that even I find scary.

    We don’t have Halloween costumes during class because if we do, you might as well forget about teaching/learning for the entire day. Huge, huge distraction. Our district does nighttime Halloween carnivals at every school, where the kids can dress up. Almost everyone goes, and it’s a great way to have the celebration!

  50. I think the difference schools and in general the community is asking that costumes are to be in ‘good taste’. i know subjective. Scary and fear has to be removed by two or three degrees, from reality, almost to the point it seems a bit silly. Six year olds dressed up as vampires, haunting siblings with “I want to suck your blood’ is nothing more then play to them and always thought the ‘Scream’ based masks to be almost cartoon-ish in nature.Yet dressing up as a ‘wife beater’, no matter the age, would be in bad-taste but not grotesque. Domestic violence hits too close to home.

  51. I’m planning to carry wet wipes – and hand sanitizer so I can clean sticky hands from eating candy as we go trick-or-treating!

  52. OK, am i too “free range” or is my sane world coming to and end? I was asked to bring cups, plates and napkins to my 1st graders “HALLOWEN PARTY” at school. I was told not to buy anything “scary”so I went to Wal Mart and bought what they had. Plates with a witch on a broomstick in the middle and googily eyes all around the edges. I was told it was TOO SCARY and the superintendent (sp?) of schools was coming around checking classrooms and they think we’re inposing the cult or witchcraft on these kids. What is up with that!?! WTF!?!??! Its ok to have skeletons (its your body). I just don’t get it. Why is the minority ruining everything for the majority??
    Thanks for letting me speak my peace 🙂
    It was OK to send in bloody gummy “appendages” because it’s part of the body. WHATEVER!!!!!!

  53. […] Halloween: Too Scary for Kids? « FreeRangeKids […]

  54. Ashley — As a Pagan myself (and one who is quickly becoming neurotic about historical accuracy), I assure you I’ve also done a considerable amount of research on the matter as well.

    The Romans and Greeks weren’t the only ones the Christians set out to convert, remember. The Germanics and Celts didn’t celebrate Saturnalia, but rather Yule/Jul. That said, while the first goal of the Christians probably was to convert the Romans, specifically, most people today wouldn’t recognize the name Saturnalia, but would be more like to recognize Yule, thanks to the more vocalness of modern Pagans, which is why I said Yule.

    That said, like I said, the only historical evidence I’ve seen for Ostara is two lines in the Venerable Bede’s work. The rest has been created since then, based off that, and expanded. Modern books have fed off that, snowballing to the point that unless you really dig into it, you’d swear that most, if not all, of the information regarding Ostara is historically accurate. If you have any historical pieces, other than the Venerable Bede’s (and preferably something that dates before his works), that depicts Ostara, then I would be very much interested in seeing it.

    Granted, the Germanic tribes did celebrate the Spring Equinox, but from the research I’ve done, the Greeks and Romans, who were the primary influences to the Jewish tribes and, later, the Christians, around the time the Easter tradition was started, did not, and there isn’t any evidence that any of the people in the Grecco-Roman area had significant enough contact with the Germanic people to have been influenced by their beliefs at that time in history. Some theories I’ve seen for the lack of celebration of it from the Romans is because they were too busy planting to celebrate (whereas the Germanics, who were farther north, wouldn’t be planting for another few weeks, at least). From my research, the bulk of the Easter celebration is more likely to stem from the Jewish Passover than from the Pagan Spring Equinox. Again, however, if you have historical evidence that says otherwise, I would be very interested in seeing it (since I don’t pretend to know everything about every tradition).

  55. spacefall — Convincing costume your physics teacher had, eh?

  56. I’m so disappointed that my daughter’s new school doesn’t do Halloween dress up. They had Red Ribbon week instead, with events such as crazy hair day and pajama day, but it’s just not the same! My daughter also noted that her teacher doesn’t like Halloween, and so they didn’t even do any Halloween crafts, which several other classes did.

    My daughter is still a little scared of the big inflatable decorations that have been getting so popular. It’s not that they look scary – the Christmas ones get her the same way. Something about them just makes her nervous. And this year she was playing up scared seeing the decorations at Target. No problem seeing them at people’s houses so far… we took a walk around the block tonight and nothing bugger her.

    There’s a balance the schools need to strike for this kind of thing. It can’t be an easy thing to put into writing without an excess of examples, which is probably why they do it the way the article showed.

    Tana, I did a dragon costume for my son last year. So much work but so cute when done. It was a dress up outfit for months after, until he outgrew it.

  57. I’m taking my 5 year old and 3 year old to the neighborhood that has the biggest and scariest houses decorated! I love Halloween!!

  58. I have to make my infant and toddler costumes because every retailer thinks they have to be ladybugs and carebears. We like the gory aspect of the holiday. My babies are zombies and corpses and bloody prom queens. And it’s hysterical.

    We are the family that sits around on Friday nights and watches scary movies. The gorier the better. And I mean the WHOLE family – toddlers included (for how much they pay attention). And you know what’s been the payback?

    Four kids that have never, not once, been afraid of the dark. Four kids that have never had nightmares about monsters under their bed. One kid that wants to write horror movies, ala Stephen King. One kid that wants to go into special effects for the movies.

    If my two want to be our idol SK and work for Dreamworks, mama will be happy, sitting in her mansion in Southern California without a care in the world.


  59. I’ve always had my kids attempt to say “Trick or Treat” themselves starting as soon as they could walk and talk.

    The results were so cute: “fick fee!” was my son’s attempt at 13 months. The next one said “Tick feet” at 19 months; while the last one was able to get out “Ticker free” at about 23 months. All of them were taught to say “Sank oo” (usually) when given the candy.

    This year, the oldest, now a very young teen, is going as a sort of Medieval ghoul. The next one, a 5th grader, is going as a vampire. The littlest one, in preschool, is going to be a puppy. She’s 4, so Daddy’s going to walk her around our large neighborhood; but the other two are going with a group of friends. The older two made their own costumes; a family tradition that starts at age 6.

  60. As for all this pagan/Christian stuff – the holidays and their traditons were not invented in order to convert the pagans; rather, the pagans who converted to Christianity brought their cultural traditions along with them, and those traditions were accomodated by Christianity and assimilated into the Christian holidays. The Catholic church as it grew generally did not try to stamp out cultural customs but simply absorbed them into the larger Christian culture in some altered way. That doesn’t make Christmas or Easter a “pagan” holiday anymore than it makes a Christian wedding ceremony a “pagan” wedding because they use a wedding ring (a pagan symbol).

  61. What’s really scary is, what are kids going to do when there’s no socially acceptable way to let off steam? That’s why costumes are fun–because you’re being something you’re NOT. In anthropology this kind of holiday is called a ‘rite of reversal’. All cultures have them. They’re extremely important to healthy human psyches! It’s not like children are so dumb they can’t tell the difference between a costume and real life–apparently adults might be, though.

  62. Jerri –

    Seriously…toothbrushes instead of candy, and you only AVOIDED those houses? I knew people when I was a kid who EGGED or TOILET PAPERED those houses. Ah, the good old days. LOL

  63. […] Halloween: Too Scary for Kids? « FreeRangeKids […]

  64. My 6th grade son went trick-or-treating with 3 of his friends…UNATTENDED…

  65. @Sky

    “rather, the pagans who converted to Christianity brought their cultural traditions along with them”

    LOL. You make it sound like the pagans actually had a choice to convert or not.

  66. I let my 6-year-old go trick-or-treating with a bunch of her friends and I stayed back at the party. It was liberating! She eventually came back perfectly unharmed, with a bag stuffed full of candy (her younger sister and I encountered her out in the neighborhood and we all came home together). We sorted out the candy and removed stuff that she can’t eat and then told her to go nuts and eat all she should eat, because after tonight, it’s going away (because we really don’t want to deal with “can I have a piece of candy????” every hour for the next 2 weeks.

    Go ahead, kid, make yourself sick on the stuff. You’ll learn something important about your body’s ability to absorb insane amounts of sugar in one go. She then very responsibly picked a few items and then asked to go to bed.

    Earlier in the day, we let them play out in the front yard with the neighbor kids, mostly unattended, while the parents prepared for the party or did other things not within a direct line of sight and earshot. It’s quite shocking how productive you can be with the kids off entertaining themselves.

    Kids are a whole heck of a lot more self-sufficient than anyone gives them credit for.

  67. @Stephanie

    “I’m so disappointed that my daughter’s new school doesn’t do Halloween dress up. They had Red Ribbon week instead, with events such as crazy hair day and pajama day, but it’s just not the same! My daughter also noted that her teacher doesn’t like Halloween, and so they didn’t even do any Halloween crafts, which several other classes did.”

    We just moved to our town and they did the same thing at our school. I wonder if it is a new national thing or maybe we live in the same town.

    I was happy though to see kids out en masse trick-or-treating last night – although it all took place before sunset which wasn’t quite as fun as previous years but we still had fun. My husband stayed behind and scared the pants off of any trick-or-treaters that dared venture onto our porch. The funny part about that was that he scared more parents than kids.

    I love Halloween. It seems to be one of the few holidays where you can talk to the neighbors and have fun without any politics or other silliness getting in the way. I hope this holiday doesn’t fall victim to mass paranoia.

  68. I sat out front of my house last night and scared everyone who came to get candy. The teenagers were more frightened than the little kids- who all giggled!

  69. Lenore- Your date/time stamp for the comments is off by a whole day.

  70. I’m happy to report that I had almost 300 kids go through my haunted house this year. And the people across the street had 880 kids. (We had a 30 minute wait in line)

    I love Halloween and think it is the most patriotic and meaningful holiday of the year. And I hate people who try to destroy it.

  71. I just now stopped by to this site and got to take some time to say many thanks for the good skating strategies!

  72. Halloween is a fun and exciting for kids to act like kids. The key is to do a little parenting and tell your children what you believe and what is expected of them!

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