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8 Halloween Costumes That Have Been Banned By Schools

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Sometimes Halloween can be more tricks than treats. People of all ages love to dress up as their favorite pop culture characters or other cool things, but some costumes can be more controversial than others. Some schools have chosen to ban Halloween completely. Others have compiled lists of inappropriate and offensive costumes like the ones below that students are not allowed to wear.

1. JESUS CHRIST

In 2013, a student at Highland Park High School in Illinois was made to remove his Jesus costume because the school said it was “offensive” and that he was “promoting religion.” The senior told the press that he wore the costume because Jesus was the “most influential person” in his life, but the school upheld their policy against costumes that could be offensive to someone’s religion, culture, gender, heritage, or sexual orientation.

2. SUPERHEROES

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The Halloween staples were thought to be too scary for some children, so administrators at an unidentified school sent a letter to parents ahead of the holiday. Written in Comic Sans, the notice, which was shared on reddit in 2014, states that superheroes including (but not limited to) Wolverine, Batman, Superman, the Power Rangers, and “any of the Fantastic 4” are not allowed, and neither are witches, ghosts, or any other costume that would be “scary to a small child.”

3. GEISHAS, SQUAWS, AND COWBOYS

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In 2013, the Dean at the University of Colorado Boulder issued a memo to the student body asking them to “consider the impact [their] costume decision may have on others in the CU community.” Featured on the list of frowned-upon Halloween garb were “costumes that portray particular cultural identities as overly sexualized, such as geishas, 'squaws,' or stereotypical, such as cowboys and Indians.” The memo also asked that students not host parties whose themes could be considered offensive, like “ghetto” or “white trash/hillbilly.”

4. SOMBREROS

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The Guild of Students at the University of Birmingham stopped its peers from participating in what it called “discriminatory behavior” by banning certain costumes at events, including sombreros and ponchos that some students wore to dress like “Mexicans.”

5. TRENCH COATS

In 1999, parents in Littleton, Colo. and other towns in America convinced schools to ban trench coats and all-black clothing year-round because the goth fashion was too closely associated with the students responsible for the Columbine High School shooting. “School administrators started considering these groups to be gangs and harassment of students was rampant with unwarranted backpack searches, detainment in the hallways by security guards, and being called into the administrative offices for questioning,” student Jennifer Muzquiz told CNN at the time.

6. CROSS-DRESSING

According to reports, an Eastchester, N.Y. school once banned cross-dressing to “stop students from mocking gay, bisexual and transgendered students as a costume prank.” In 2014, an advocacy group objected to the ban but the superintendent, Walter Moran, stood behind the decision. “Any student has the absolute right to cross-dress any day or days, and the school respects that student's personal decision,” read a statement by Moran. “In an effort to respect the race, religion and gender of our students, we believe that Halloween costumes should not make light of this.”

7. SEXY NURSE

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At Quinnipiac University, the Associate Vice President for Academic Affairs and Chief Diversity Officer said that insensitive costumes, including “blackface, or as a Mexican, hooker, gangster or promiscuous nurse,” were just as offensive as “writing the ‘N-word’ on a blackboard or a chalkboard or a whiteboard in the dorms or in the residence halls.”

8. ANYTHING WITH A WEAPON

An elementary school in New Jersey wanted to compromise with parents and their children in 2007, so they allowed some costumes to be worn without the accessories. The New York Times reported that throughout the school there were gun-less cowboys, swordless pirates, and devils without pitchforks. “When you consider all the horrific things that have happened in recent years, including 9/11,” said a teacher at the school, “I can’t blame any school for wanting to steer away from anything that might promote violence.”

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10 Regional Twists on Trick-or-Treating
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Walk around any given American neighborhood on the night of October 31, and you’ll likely hear choruses of "trick-or-treat" chiming through the area. The sing-songy phrase is synonymous with Halloween in some parts of the world, but it's not the only way kids get sweets from their neighbors this time of year. From the Philippines to the American Midwest, here are some regional door-to-door traditions you may not have heard of.

1. PANGANGALULUWA // THE PHILIPPINES

Rice cakes wrapped in leaves.
Suman

The earliest form of trick-or-treating on Halloween can be traced back to Europe in the Middle Ages. Kids would don costumes and go door-to-door offering prayers for dead relatives in exchange for snacks called "soul cakes." When the cake was eaten, tradition held that a soul was ferried from purgatory into heaven. Souling has disappeared from Ireland and the UK, but a version of it lives on halfway across the world in the Philippines. During All Saints Day on November 1, Filipino children taking part in Pangangaluluwa will visit local houses and sing hymns for alms. The songs often relate to souls in purgatory, and carolers will play the part of the souls by asking for prayers. Kids are sometimes given rice cakes called suman, a callback to the soul cakes from centuries past.

2. PÃO-POR-DEUS // PORTUGAL

Raw dough.
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Instead of trick-or-treating, kids in Portugal go door-to-door saying pão-por-deus ("bread for god") in exchange for goodies on All Saints Day. Some homeowners give out money or candy, while others offer actual baked goods.

3. HALLOWEEN APPLES // WESTERN CANADA

Kids trick-or-treating.
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If they're not calling out "trick-or-treat" on their neighbors’ doorsteps on Halloween night, you may hear children in western Canada saying "Halloween apples!" The phrase is left over from a time when apples were a common Halloween treat and giving out loose items on the holiday wasn't considered taboo.

4. ST. MARTIN'S DAY // THE NETHERLANDS

The Dutch wait several days after Halloween to do their own take on trick-or-treating. On the night of November 11, St. Martin's Day, children in the Netherlands take to the streets with their homemade lanterns in hand. These lanterns were traditionally carved from beets or turnips, but today they’re most commonly made from paper. And the kids who partake don’t get away with shouting a few words at each home they visit—they’re expected to sing songs to receive their sugary rewards.

5. A PENNY FOR THE GUY // THE UK

Guy Fawkes Night celebration.

Peter Trimming, Wikimedia Commons // CC BY-SA 2.0

Guy Fawkes Night is seen by some as the English Protestants’ answer to the Catholic holidays associated with Halloween, so it makes sense that it has its own spin on trick-or-treating. November 5 marks the day of Guy Fawkes’s failed assassination attempt on King James as part of the Gunpowder Plot. To celebrate the occasion, children will tour the neighborhood asking for "a penny for the guy." Sometimes they’ll carry pictures of the would-be-assassin which are burned in the bonfires lit later at night.

6. TRICKS FOR TREATS // ST. LOUIS, MISSOURI

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If kids in the St. Louis area hope to go home with a full bag of candy on Halloween, they must be willing to tickle some funny bones. Saying "tricks-for-treats" followed by a joke replaces the classic trick-or-treat mantra in this Midwestern city. There’s no criteria for the quality or the subject of the joke, but spooky material (What’s a skeleton’s favorite instrument? The trombone!) earns brownie points.

7. ME DA PARA MI CALAVERITA // MEXICO

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While Dia de los Muertos, or Day of the Dead, is completely separate from Halloween, the two holidays share a few things in common. Mexicans celebrate the day by dressing up, eating sweet treats, and in some parts of the country, going house-to-house. Children knocking on doors will say "me da para mi calaverita" or "give me money for my little skull," a reference to the decorated sugar skulls sold in markets at this time of year.

8. HALLOWEEN! // QUEBEC, CANADA

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Trick-or-treaters like to keep things simple in the Canadian province of Quebec. In place of the alliterative exclamation, they shout “Halloween!” at each home they visit. Adults local to the area might remember saying "la charité s’il-vous-plaît "(French for “charity, please”) when going door-to-door on Halloween, but this saying has largely fallen out of fashion.

9. SWEET OR SOUR // GERMANY

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Halloween is only just beginning to gain popularity in Germany. Where it is celebrated, the holiday looks a lot like it does in America, but Germans have managed to inject some local character into their version of trick-or-treat. In exchange for candy, kids sometimes sing out "süß oder saures"—or "sweet and sour" in English.

10. TRIQUI, TRIQUI HALLOWEEN // COLOMBIA

Kids dressed up for Halloween.
Rubí Flórez, Flickr // CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Kids in Colombia anticipate dressing up and prowling the streets on Halloween just as much as kids do in the States. There are a few significant variations on the annual tradition: Instead of visiting private residencies, they're more likely to ask for candy from store owners and the security guards of apartment buildings. And instead of saying trick-or-treat, they recite this Spanish rhyme:

Triqui triqui Halloween
Quiero dulces para mí
Si no hay dulces para mí
Se le crece la naríz

In short, it means that if the grownups don't give the kids the candy they're asking for, their noses will grow. Tricky, tricky indeed

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10 Regional Twists on Trick-or-Treating
Original image
iStock

Walk around any given American neighborhood on the night of October 31, and you’ll likely hear choruses of "trick-or-treat" chiming through the area. The sing-songy phrase is synonymous with Halloween in some parts of the world, but it's not the only way kids get sweets from their neighbors this time of year. From the Philippines to the American Midwest, here are some regional door-to-door traditions you may not have heard of.

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