ST. PAUL, Minn. (WCCO) — More and more schools are doing away with the candy and costumes. Many have policies in place, out of respect to students who don’t celebrate Halloween.
The plan is rather controversial because Halloween isn’t typically thought of as a religious holiday.
Using class time to celebrate Halloween is up to the school district or the individual school. And in St. Paul, the policy discourages celebrating most holidays.
On the classroom walls at Randolph Heights in St. Paul, there are signs of the season, but the only sign of Halloween we could find was a calendar with a couple of ghosts and jack-o-lanterns. Not exactly what many remember experiencing during their childhood.
“I remember going around with my classmates and passing out candy, we all had our own Halloween boxes, treat boxes,” said one Twin Cities resident.
That won’t happen here at Randolph Heights. St. Paul Public Schools “discourages programs and festivities arranged to celebrate holidays,” and, in fact, wants schools to “strive to eliminate them.”
“We don’t encourage any particular religious holiday celebrations in our schools,” said Michelle Walker, chief of staff at St. Paul Public Schools.
However, some say Halloween doesn’t have the same religious significance as Christmas or Easter.
“Halloween I think has a complicated relationship with religion,” said Dr. Diana Dean of Macalester College.
Dean teaches about Halloween’s ancient Celtic origin as a celebration of the harvest and the new year.
“It’s not essentially a Christian holiday, and yet it was accepted by the church and continued to be practiced,” Dean said.
St. Paul Public Schools has backed off from Halloween because it doesn’t want students, such as Jehovah’s Witnesses who don’t recognize holidays, to feel left out. Instead, seasonal symbols like leaves, apples, and pumpkins are used in the classroom.
“So how do you bring that into the learning activity? How do you use that to reemphasize math lessons per se? Or how do you look at leaves and talk about science and things like that,” Walker explained.
Minneapolis schools and others have very similar policies. For national holidays such as presidents’ birthdays and Martin Luther King Jr. Day, schools are required to recognize those holidays for at least one hour.