Christmas Day and Easter Sunday are Christian holidays celebrating our lord and savior, Jesus Christ. Thanksgiving is about being grateful for what we have and for the family we love. Mother’s and Father’s Day are self-explanatory Hallmark holidays.
Memorial and Veteran’s Day are a deep appreciation for our Armed Services who gave their lives for our freedoms. But Halloween is a day where everyone dresses up with lavish costumes in a weird tradition designed around scaring neighbors and eating candy. Sure, it’s more for the children, but let’s be honest, it’s fun for the whole family.
That’s why it’s laughable that this Virginia town is enforcing a harsh punishment where if kids over 12-years-old, teenagers, are caught trick-or-treating then they could face jail time.
October 31st, that holiday known as “Halloween” was an ancient Celtic tradition of the Samhain festival nearly 2,000 years ago.
This day marked the end of summer and the harvest and the beginning of the dark, cold winter, a time of year that was often associated with human death. Celts believed that on the night before the New Year, the boundary between the worlds of the living and the dead became blurred. On October 31st they celebrated Samhain – believing it to be the day that the ghosts of the dead returned to Earth.
And since our early settlers from the 1600’s originated in that area of which is now Ireland, the United Kingdom and northern France, obviously it carried itself naturally to the New World.
Of course, as many other traditions, it evolves. Halloween is sort of a benign holiday that’s all about scares and candy gluttony. Do we Americans actually think this is the day the “ghosts of the dead” return to Earth? Well, there may be an anecdotal crazy few, but most of us don’t.
However, Chesapeake, Virginia took the benign holiday to incredible extremes recently where they are urging that teenage kids who are caught trick-or-treating on that night could be slapped with a misdemeanor. Right now, any child over the age of 12 without adult supervision after 8 p.m. could be charged with up to a $250 fine and could serve up to six months in jail – a Class 4 misdemeanor.
And by some incredulous notion, apparently this issue has been contentious amongst the residents of Chesapeake for years.
Chesapeake spokesman Heath Covey said, “Realistically the only purpose of this ordinance is to give our police force the ability, if someone is creating mischief on Halloween, to do something about it.”
Essentially, this is just about a curfew, where the thinking is that any teenager outside after 8 p.m. is likely up to no good – whether that means vandalism or stealing – they’re trying to avoid menace.
But this is a free country and that level of assumption is an absurd one.
However, this ordinance was introduced after an especially violent Halloween in 1968 where a city in the Hampton Roads region witnessed several incidents, including people throwing firecrackers into trick or treaters’ Halloween bags.
Once that ordinance went viral in March of last year, it was met with mockery and made its way all the way to “Jimmy Kimmel LIVE” where they satirized the absurd law.
To be fair, another thing is that those just wandering the streets who are underage and after curfew are not arrested or taken to jail. The extremism of being put in jail too is highly unlikely.
But if that’s the case then why have the ordinance at all?
One example made by Covey tells a better story.
He claimed, “Say for example a 17-year-old kid and his 12-year-old sister both go trick or treating. The only problem that 17-year-old is going to have is deciding who’s going to get to keep the Snickers.”
It’s understandable they want to keep the streets safe, but enforcing ludicrous ordinances, even against teenagers who aren’t breaking the law, is absurd.