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Let’s put the “treat” back into Halloween for our kids


Yuganov Konstantin

Theresa Civantos Barber - published on 10/29/23

Let’s give Halloween back to the kids and keep the horror out of it, so children everywhere can enjoy this incredibly fun holiday.

Halloween is one of my favorite days of the year. 

It’s one of the only times I ever talk with some of my neighbors, so it builds connections and strengthens community. 

It’s also such an easy holiday to celebrate as a parent. The kids throw on a costume from the dress-up box, grab a bag for trick or treating, and we’re ready to go. I don’t have to cook or plan anything, but my kids have a blast, and that’s really refreshing on a holiday!

Yet at the same time, there’s a trend toward overly scary and terrifying Halloween decorations that is a real problem for many parents. 

Horror doesn’t belong in the front yard

My kids and I love walking around our neighborhood to the park and the library. But recently, we have to do part of the walk with me guiding them down the sidewalk one by one while they close their eyes. 

One house down the street has such upsetting, violent, graphic Halloween decorations in their front yard that it makes my little kids cry.

I thought maybe I was the only person with this problem, but then I started talking to my friends about it. One by one, they mentioned how they have to avoid walking by certain houses because the decorations are so scary for their kids. One mom said her child has suffered nightmares after seeing some of the scary horror-themed decorations.

I asked my six-year-old daughter what she thought about the Halloween decorations down the street. “I love Halloween but sometimes it’s too scary,” she said. “Tell the grown-ups, no more scary stuff! Just cute things and candy.” I agree!

As a mom of young kids, I wish adults would keep the scary stuff out of their Halloween decorations. If they simply must have graphically violent Halloween images, keep it inside, in the backyard, or in haunted houses and designated spaces. It feels wrong that little kids can’t walk down the street without seeing upsetting and often traumatizing images. 

Let’s give Halloween back to the kids

The origins of Halloween come from Catholic tradition as the feast before All Hallows, now called All Saints’ Day. At least one bishop has urged Catholics to celebrate Halloween with a more Catholic spirit, in keeping with the joy of All Saints’ Day.

In keeping with this spirit, for at least the past 120 years, it was primarily a holiday for children. 

The History Channel reports:

In the late 1800s, there was a move in America to mold Halloween into a holiday more about community and neighborly get-togethers than about ghosts, pranks and witchcraft. At the turn of the century, Halloween parties for both children and adults became the most common way to celebrate the day. Parties focused on games, foods of the season and festive costumes.

Parents were encouraged by newspapers and community leaders to take anything “frightening” or “grotesque” out of Halloween celebrations. Because of these efforts, Halloween lost most of its superstitious and religious overtones by the beginning of the 20th century.

I think we can all get behind games, food, fun and costumes. But I’m right there with the Halloween critics of the late 1800s: Do we really need to have the frightening and grotesque Halloween decorations plastered where little kids can’t help seeing them? 

Let’s give Halloween back to the kids and keep the horror out of it, so children everywhere can enjoy and celebrate this incredibly fun holiday without being terrified. 

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