Due to the pandemic, almost all major public events have been cancelled in Canada since March, This has included festivals, exhibitions, sporting events, parades and so on, both big and small.
Now, months later there have been, and still are, questions about whether Hallowe’en, the annual costume and candy event for children, will still be allowed.
It is believed the event has its roots in a celtic religious event going back about 2,000 years to mark the end of the ‘light’ part of the year of spring and summer and harvest, and the transfer to the ‘dark’ part of fall and winter. The date for ‘Samhain’ later was settled on November 1.
Still later the Catholic church would dedicate the same date as a religious celebration to honour the lives of martyrs, later becoming known as “All Saints Day- or ‘All Hallows Day”. The previous evening was “All Hallows Eve” or “Hallowe’en” Now, it has lost all sense of any religious undertones becoming more of an excuse for costume parties by adults, but especially a candy infused dress-up event for children.
To avoid or at least reduce spread of the virus, health officials across the country have strongly recommended adults cancel any of their Hallowe’en parties, the question has remained about the children going door-to-door to ‘trick or treat” for candy.
In most places in Canada, municipal and provincial authorities say the event, which takes place mostly outdoors as children go door to door, can take place.
Ontario, Canada’s most populous province however has recommended against ‘trick or treating’ in the so called COVID hotspots. In a statement on the provincial government website the province’s Medical Officer of Health, Dr. David Williams said, “Given the high transmission of COVID-19 in the modified Stage 2 public health unit regions of Ottawa, Peel, Toronto and York Region, traditional door-to-door trick-or-treating is not recommended, and people should consider alternative ways to celebrate”.
One of the annual popular events in Canada’s largest city, Toronto, is the “haunted house” at Casa Loma and the event called “Legends of horror”
. The large castle-like structure is transformed into a spooky event each Hallowe’en for visitors. Originally cancelled earlier in the pandemic, it is now back on.
Canada’s Chief Public Health official, Dr. Theresa Tam, says Hallowe’en need not be cancelled if people follow guidelines. At an Ottawa briefing last week she said, “ “I think finding that balance of trying to provide some degree of normality, even though it is actually different from any other year, most public health leaders think that that is actually important,”
The mostly French-speaking province of Quebec has the most cases and highest number of deaths from the virus. Premier Francois Legault says children should be allowed to go out for Hallowe’en saying, “Halloween happens outside. We know that the outdoors is less risky than indoors,”, However, he strongly suggested restrictions such as maintaining distance but added adults should not organize parties.
In the maritime province of New Brunswick, there will be no trick or treating permitted in the province’s ‘orange’ level zones, which includes the major cities of Moncton and Campellton.
In almost all parts of Canada the event will go ahead with the similar recommendations to limit the potential for spreading the virus.
The Hallowe’en trick or treat and costume tradition has spread to many other countries around the world.
Not everyone enjoys Hallowe’en.
In Italy, the Governor of Campania, which includes Naples, where the virus rate has surged, announced a 10 p.m. curfew and closed schools for two weeks. He also labelled Hallowe’en as a stupid American extravagance” and a “monument to imbecility”.