The Four Traps of Halloween
Halloween is so much fun because it’s a time of year when we’re not only allowed to break from tradition and societal expectations, we’re actually encouraged to. On Halloween we get to take on different personas and act in ways we normally wouldn’t. We get to be expressive with creative costumes, decorations, or themed parties. Halloween brings a lot of creative freedom, but with that freedom comes responsibility. Halloween carries with it some dangerous traps that can be easy to fall into if you’re not careful. Thankfully, a little awareness and education can help you steer clear of these traps and prevent your Halloween from becoming scary for the wrong reasons.
The first trap of Halloween is failing to consider physical safety. There are certain risk factors at play during Halloween that aren’t as prominent in everyday life. For example, taking food or candy from strangers, roaming around outdoors or by streets after dark, and wearing masks or costumes that might obscure your vision or mobility. Thankfully, taking simple precautions can help easily improve your safety during Halloween. For example, avoid eating homemade or unwrapped treats from people you don’t know, bring flashlights or lanterns if you’re spending time outside after dark, be aware of your surroundings, travel in groups, and test your costume before wearing it to ensure you can see and move properly and can take it off easily and quickly if needed.
The second trap of Halloween is a modern take on the first trap – it is failing to consider COVID safety. Even with numbers in many places going down and the severity of COVID this October being much less than last year, there is still an element of risk in failing to be COVID conscious. High-contact surfaces like doorbells and candy bowls present a risk of COVID spread, and Trick-or-Treating or attending parties increase close contact and potential spread among other individuals. Thankfully, a lot of elements of COVID safety fit in with the natural vibe of Halloween. Wearing a face mask or gloves can easily be worked into a costume, and socializing outdoors instead of indoors can decrease airborne spread. If you are attending a party or going Trick-or-Treating, try your best to social distance. If you are handing out candy to Trick-or-Treaters, use gloves or a scoop rather than letting everyone reach into a big bowl.
The third trap of Halloween is participating in cultural appropriation. When dressing up for Halloween, there’s a fine line between picking a costume that’s innocent and one that’s intentionally or inadvertently racist, offensive, or insensitive. Cultural appropriation is when someone adopts elements of a culture or identity that they are not a part of. This can look like turning a culture into a costume, like dressing up as a Native American or a Geisha. It can also look like dressing up as a specific character and using customs or symbols that hold significance in that character’s culture, like dressing up as Aladdin and wearing a turban, or dressing up as Maui and donning Polynesian tribal tattoos. While there may not be a hard line to dictate what exactly constitutes cultural appropriation in a costume, it’s important to think about whether your costume appreciates a character or appropriates their culture. If the costume includes elements that hold significance to a culture that you do not belong to that you are taking out of context, it might be best to scale it back or choose something different.
The final trap of Halloween is failing to be inclusive. Halloween is meant to be enjoyed by everyone, but some actions we take may inadvertently leave some people out of the fun. One example of this is the Blue Pumpkin Project, which was created to make Halloween more inclusive for children with Autism. A fun Halloween tradition is that kids must say “Trick-or-Treat” before being given candy. While this may seem innocent, it can actually leave out kids who have Autism and might be non-verbal or not understand or want to follow the social cue of repeating the phrase. Carrying a blue pumpkin is a way to signal that a child may not act like other children or say “Trick-or-Treat” but should be included in the fun nonetheless. Following on the success of the Blue Pumpkin Project, the Teal Pumpkin Project was created for kids with food allergies. Houses that display a teal pumpkin signal that they have non-food treats to give out. Taking a closer look at who might be left out of common Halloween traditions and customs can help make the holiday more inclusive and allow everyone to participate in the festivities.
As we head into spooky season, there are so many fun traditions and celebrations to participate in. Take advantage and enjoy all the fun that Halloween has to offer, but as you do also make sure that you are avoiding the four common Halloween traps. Be sure to pay attention to physical safety and COVID safety. Be smart and sensitive with the costumes you choose. And make sure that you aren’t excluding others with how you choose to celebrate. If you can avoid these traps, then you’re sure to have a fun, festive, and responsible Halloween!
*Meet the Author*
Morgan has worked with Leadership Inspirations for five years. He has a B.A. in Integrated Educational Studies and an M.A. in Leadership Development from Chapman University.
Favorite quote: “Everything will be okay in the end. If it’s not okay, it’s not the end” – John Lennon
Fun facts: 1) I once trained my pet goldfish to play basketball 2) When I was little I wanted to be a Disneyland parking attendant 3) I’m a big Justin Timberlake fan