Halloween in Schools: 19% of Survey Respondents Disapprove

Oct 30, 2009

Should Halloween celebrations be allowed in public schools? Should the celebration be known as 'Halloween' or a 'Fall Festival?' These are just two of the questions that many of today's schools are considering. A new survey posed the same questions to people around the nation and found that the majority have no problem with this popular holiday. However, a significant number of respondents--nearly 20 percent--disapprove of Halloween in schools.


Halloween is the United States' second largest commercial holiday

Although Halloween is widely considered to be a secular (non-religious) celebration, there are some groups that mistakenly associate the holiday with perceived religious overtones. The fact that many people have negative associations with the word and the idea of 'Halloween' have encouraged many schools around the U.S. to change the name of this holiday to 'Fall Festival.' Some schools have done away with the celebration altogether.

To determine the current status of public opinion, Rasmussen Reports conducted a national survey this week. Respondents were asked several questions about Halloween and Halloween celebrations. This is how the nation responded:

Many schools around the nation are beginning to eliminate the word Halloween and use the term 'Fall Festival' because of the religious overtones for Halloween. Is it a good idea to change the event to a Fall Festival?

halloween chart 1

The majority of respondents (66%) do not think it's a good idea to change the name 'Halloween' to 'Fall Festival.' Nineteen percent say a name-change is a good idea, but 15% are not sure.

Should public schools let children wear costumes to class to celebrate Halloween?

Halloween Chart 2

The majority of respondents (72%) also have no problem with Halloween costumes, saying that children in public schools should be allowed to wear costumes to class to celebrate Halloween. Only 18% feel children should not wear costumes, and 10% are not sure.

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Should public schools let children bring candy to school for Halloween?

halloween chart 3

The majority of respondents (69%) feel students should be permitted to bring candy to school for Halloween. Twenty-three percent disagree with this idea, and 8% aren't sure.

Halloween Costumes in Schools

halloween costumes

Some schools are encouraging less scary costumes.

Halloween and costumes have gone hand in hand for many years now, and as the Rasmussen survey indicated, most people do not have an issue with children dressing up to celebrate the holiday. However, there is a certain amount of debate as to what sorts of costumes students should be allowed to wear in the hallways of public schools. Under pressure from parents, many schools have begun prohibiting 'scary' costumes as well as costumes that can be considered 'gross' or 'saddening.'

In some schools, including a district in Illinois, students are asked to dress as historical characters or fall food items, such as pumpkins and carrots. Other schools, including institutions in Texas and California, are encouraging 'positive costumes' that do not depict traditional characters, such as witches, vampires, or ghouls. Others still, have banned Halloween costumes altogether, insisting that school is not the place to dress up for the holiday.

Are all of these changes and restrictions another example of how society can turn harmless fun into something negative? Or is it right to ban Halloween from schools and restrict it to individual homes?

For now, it seems that most of the nation still wants to see Halloween in public schools. But who knows what the future will hold for this ever-evolving annual celebration.

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