Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Halloween Under Attack

I just read in my local paper that kids in Montgomery Public Schools won’t be celebrating Halloween today at school. Apparently, even sending cupcakes to school is forbidden. The district has a new “Student Wellness Policy” which encourages parents to bring or provide healthy foods at school parties. I’m not going to argue that we don’t need to watch what we feed our kids, but it’s probably the Kraft Mac 'n Cheese more than a stray cupcake that’s making kids fat.

When Jeff and Scott were in elementary school, the kids dressed up and paraded around the neighborhood and capped off the day’s festivities with parties. As a room mother for some of those parties, I saw the delighted faces of kids given a day off from mindless busy work filling out worksheets. And the way I look at it, it was also an opportunity to socialize and learn how to get along with each other.

Now, Halloween has become a religious or political liability and school districts are turning away from a tradition that’s well worth continuing in my opinion. And I’ve found something fundamentalist Christians and Muslims can agree on. Hakim ibn Abdullah over at the blog Wa Salaam says, “Halloween is the most indulgent and frivolous event in American culture.” He’s a Muslim, born in the U.S. trying to raise his children in accordance with his faith. I can respect that just as I can respect Christians and others who likewise want to raise their children in a certain way.

What I have a problem with, however, is the need to take away traditions, festivities and celebrations just to please one group or another. For example, I happen to think that fireworks on the Fourth of July are a big waste of money. Let’s do away with the displays and spend the money on helping feed some hungry people or use the money to build community centers to keep the kids off the streets.

We Americans do lots of frivolous and indulgent things. So do other cultures. But I prefer that we not sanitize and standardize ourselves into a bland, politically correct and boring world that doesn’t offend or challenge anyone’s sensibilities.

Happy Halloween.


NAOMI said...

Ha ha I agree. Being politically correct is no fun at all. It's like the row over the Harry Potter books. That's why Borat gets away with so much and is soo funny. He hasn't got a politically correct bone in his body! Happy Halloween Sheila

Tim said...

Too late, America's already on its way.

And too bad, too. Halloween happens to my favorite holiday.

Dirty Butter said...

I participated in the discussion on Wa Salaam about Halloween and expressed my views there. But just to recap, my DH and I have always downplayed Halloween in a attempt to keep it as a light child's holiday. It seems to us that it is evolving into a more sinister, evil form of itself as the years go by, that we can no longer feel comfortable with.

As for the school celebrations being limited. Our schools were limiting parties and costumes some years ago, both as an emphasis on academics and nutrition, and as a response to the large fundamentalist Christian population in our area. We just moved the celebration away from Halloween, called it a Fall Festival, and the children dressed as book characters. Problem solved for everyone, and the children had fun.

Sheila said...

Thanks everyone for your comments. I still love Halloween--just not the extreme commercialism but that seems to be the American way these days. We had just the right number of trick-or-treaters to candy ratio with only a few pieces of candy left over.