Halloween during COVID-19: A compromise between safety and tradition

A fusion of spooky, scary skeletons and perilous, petrifying pandemics

Trick or treat, smell my feet, give me something good to eat! 

The jingle itself is sacred scripture for all things spooky. However, as Halloween-esque as it may sound, a bat from a wet market is not “something good to eat.” 

2020 seems like a nasty trick played on us whose origin was sometime around Halloween 2019. But what should you expect from Halloween 2020? Vaccines instead of candy? Face masks instead of Halloween masks? Carvings of President Donald Trump engraved into pumpkins? Will people cease to dress up as sexy nurses, but rather dress up as arguably-less-sexy Dr. Anthony Fauci (on the other hand, he is a pretty well put-together 79-year-old).

As amusing as it would be to join a neighborhood Zoom call, exchanging candy emojis (🍬, 🍭, 🍫) with one another, that’s not truly Halloween. The line needs to be drawn somewhere — a compromise between safety and tradition.

As Halloween approaches, people will have to balance safety with holiday fun. (Oliver Carter / Talon)

As highly-regarded philosopher and Halloween advocate Lucy van Pelt from “It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown,” once said, All you have to do is walk up to a house, ring the doorbell, and say ‘tricks or treats. As easy as I would like that to be, COVID-19 calls for necessary safety precautions regarding the protocol for Halloween. As much as I love this holiday, I am advocating for it to be entirely indoors this year, spent with family or a very small group of close friends.

Historically, there has been much controversy around how Halloween should be celebrated during national or international turmoil and distress. During World War II, Chicago City Council voted to rename Halloween to “Conservation Day” as to end Halloween pranks and vandalism (which often entailed criminal damage) in a country so out-of-shape and restless from war. Later, former President Harry Truman suggested Halloween be repurposed “Youth Honor Day.” Both attempts to cancel Halloween were unsuccessful.

Oliver Carter / Talon

In 2001, six weeks after 9/11, many New Yorkers had reclaimed the streets for Halloween cheer, and the disaster would not stop them from celebrating; The New York’s Village Halloween parade was broadcast worldwide.

In all of these cases, Halloween resumed, but restrictions were put in place to fit the circumstances at hand. Ventura County is close to coming off the California state watchlist, and it would be greatly foolish (or ghoulish!) to risk lives and decrease the likelihood of returning to school.

Halloween is special in that it is one of the few secular holidays we celebrate with grand theatrics. It is the one day a year where we get to be someone else, exchange treats with your community and feel excited by frightening displays. COVID-19 does not prevent any of that from happening. The Rancho Simi Park District is even hosting a Masquerade Parade, following all safety precautions, including a “Drive By Trick-or-Treating” event.

There’s no simple solution to such a novel problem — however, by wearing masks, spending Halloween indoors with family or close friends and not coughing directly into candy bowls (seriously, don’t be stupid), you can make all the difference in the world. However, to all those who still advocate for an outdoor Halloween, beware: stay six feet apart, or risk being six feet under.