Tuesday, October 31, 2006

What's Happening to Halloween?

Something bothersome came to my attention today. Amy, who teaches fourth grade, informed me that her students no longer can celebrate Halloween at school because some parents take religious issue with the holiday. Instead, the children can opt to come to school dressed as farmers (I’m not making this up) to celebrate “Harvest Day.”

Correct me if I’m wrong, but doesn’t “Harvest Day” sound only marginally more exciting than “Snail Conference” or “Parsley Fest”? When I was a kid (I no longer feel any shame using the phrase “When I was a kid…”), the most fun part of the school holiday was the afternoon Halloween party, where we colored pictures of witches, werewolves, and black cats in jack-o-lanterns while devouring spooky-themed treats and comparing the relative awesomeness of our costumes.

What exactly do students do on “Harvest Day,” shuck corn and chew on dried out straws of hay? How invigorating.

What’s so bad about Halloween, anyway? As most everybody knows, Halloween is a contraction of “All Hallow’s Eve,” or the night before All Saints Day, which is a Roman Catholic holy day in which the church gives blanket praise to, naturally, all the saints.

All Saint’s Eve is supposedly a time when souls and spirits are most free, since they’re being called upon for the holy day, anyway. Think of it as ghosts getting to the Goblin Hotel a day early for their annual Apparition Convention. To relax, swim and stuff. Maybe hit up the hot tub.

But there’s no scientific evidence to support that your likeliness of coming across a ghost on October 31 is any more likely than the rest of the year. Mostly due to the fact that ghosts don’t technically exist. You know, that old chestnut.

In America, people of Irish and Scottish descent once used the day to celebrate their culture (much in the same way that Columbus Day used to be a commemorative day for Italian-Americans), with the Scottish performing something called “dookin,” which means “bobbing for apples.”

So what this means is somewhere out there exists a religion that is expressly opposed to apples and Irish people. Got it.

It’s hard to imagine what these uber-religious parents are so concerned about? If little Johnny sees Sarah dressed as a ghoul, does that mean Johnny will immediately become possessed with evil, rob several convenient marts, terrorize a national monument, then die and come back as a haint to spook neighborhood children for centuries to come?

If little Thomas comes to school dressed as Dracula, does that mean he is due for a life of impaling people mercilessly like the actual Transylvanian tyrant?

Students can’t even dress as something as harmless as Harry Potter, since J.K Rowling’s books are banned in almost as many schools as Halloween. Something about sorcery and witchcraft, because all 9 year-olds are witches picking up satanic tips from the novels.

In case you’ve forgotten, you zealot parents, little kids like dressing up. It’s fun for them. And part of the spirit of Halloween is getting involved in the holiday’s spookiness—making the insane witch laugh, stringing faux spider webs from cotton, getting your friend to eat cold spaghetti noodles and peeled grapes in the dark so they’ll believe it’s hair and eyeballs. When my siblings and I were kids, we had this Halloween tape that played the “Ghostbusters” theme, “Monster Mash,” “Purple People Eater,” and a whole slew of creepy Halloween sound effects. Dammit, THAT was what All Hallow’s Eve was all about!

Now, kids can’t even trick or treat at night because of lurching pedophiles. They’re out there at four in the afternoon instead of at night, like a real Halloween should be experienced. See, in the daytime, houses know that “trick” is no real threat, since they’d see you from miles away. Not that “treat” is bad, but it’s good to have the option.

I suggest we write letters to our federal and state senators demanding the immediate reinstatement of Halloween into our public schools. Amy swears Barack Obama is the devil, so I’m sure he’d help us out in getting “His” day back on the school’s list of holidays.

It’s just harmless fun, no different than dressing as a cowboy, or a princess, or Mike Tyson (actually, that last one is probably more dangerous and disconcerting than any mummy or Frankenstein). Let the kids have their Halloween party, and let the elementary teachers watch them enjoy themselves.

Now I’ve got to go change into my costume. This year, I’m going as a farmer.

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