The annual observance of Halloween, or All Hallows Eve, returns this year on Saturday, Oct. 31 – a day whose origins date back to at least the eighth century rooted in an ancient Celtic festival – that has become a fixture in the U.S. The holiday features celebrations and activities during which both young children and those young-at-heart dress up in costumes – from ghosts, witches and vampires to their favorite superheroes like Batman, Wonder Woman or the Black Panther.
However, unlike in year’s past, those who want to go out trick-or-treating or join others for festive gatherings – bobbing for apples and swapping accumulated candy among the young or imbibing in holiday-themed “spirits” for those of legal age to drink alcohol – Halloween 2020 will be impacted and undoubtedly changed due to the still prevalent specter of COVID-19.
And while adults should be better able to handle and accept the steps that must be followed to avoid the risk of getting or spreading coronavirus, children may find it more difficult to understand. But with a little creativity, there remain alternatives that allow for youth to safely participate in Halloween and have fun along the way.
Precautions include: avoid direct contact with trick-or-treaters; give out treats outdoors; set up a station with individually bagged treats for children to take; wash hands before handling treats; and wear a mask.
Additionally, those who plan to dress up should make a cloth mask part of their costume mindful that a costume mask is not a safe substitute for a cloth mask. It’s also advised by the Centers for Disease Control that a costume mask should not be worn over a cloth mask which can make breathing more difficult and that masks should not be worn by children under two or anyone who has breathing problems.
It’s a challenging time for all of us with other holidays soon following including Thanksgiving and Christmas which will need to be observed differently than they have traditionally. Big family dinners and visits to grandma may not be wise or safe options until a vaccine for the virus has been discovered and administered to all citizens. But there remain reasons for us to celebrate if for no other than because we are alive – able to anticipate and make the most of today and hopefully, tomorrow.
And remember that suggested changes to long-held methods of celebrating fall and winter holidays, including limiting the number of attendees and forgoing travel plans, should be viewed as a means to keep families, friends and communities safe from COVID-19.
If we all work together, we can survive this health pandemic. Yes, we can still dress up and swap candy on Halloween, host intimate gatherings for Thanksgiving dinners while rooting for our favorite college football teams and decorate our homes to and exchange gifts during the Christmas season – as soon as we safety as our first priority.