Well.. yes, the law goes as far as to regulate Halloween in some countries. As the spookiest day of them all is here, this article is about to give a brief analysis of the different laws that regulate (directly or indirectly) this festivity across the globe. In this regard, many countries have imposed regulations so to effectively address any form of improper behaviour that more vividly arises during this period, while in some other instances, one encounters rules the existence of which may even be questioned.
Wearing a Halloween mask in public? Nope!
Who would have thought that wearing a mask in public (not the mask we are using lately to protect ourselves and the others from the spread of Covid19 - that one is now required and it is illegal not to wear it!)
constitutes an offence in certain parts of
the world? This is clearly the case in some states of the US, where people are not allowed to go out in public while wearing a mask, from a certain age onwards. For example in Dublin, Georgia the age limit is 16 years, whereas in Belleville, Illinois the age limit is 12 years. Moreover, in the state of New York it is banned to wear masks in public since the 1800s (but you can wear your mask during a private party!), whereas in some parts of California to wear a mask one needs to get a licence from the Sherriff!
Any dressing up restrictions?
The state of Alabama prohibits anyone to dress up 'fraudulently' as a member of the clergy (e.g. a priest, a nun, etc.) or any other religion for Halloween, as well as on any other day of the year. Anyone who breaches the law faces strict fines including a possible imprisonment up to one year! On the other hand, California may not have such laws, but the law of the state gives discretion to private establishments and shops to ban entry to their premises for anyone who is wearing a costume. This law is applicable on an 'all year round basis', but one can clearly see its impact during Halloween.
What about Clown costumes?
Clowns have, allegedly, been the central protagonists in many people's nightmares for some time now, as there are many individuals who find them terrifying. To that end, there have been many reports about clowns terrorising people in various countries during Halloween. That is why, in many places it is illegal to dress up as a clown. For example, in France it is now illegal during the period of Halloween for anyone to dress up as a clown if they are above the age of 13 years, unless that is their job, in which case they still require a relevant permission from the authorities. The trend of 'clown attacks' to civilians became more widespread in 2017, as many countries including the UK and the US suffered to a great extent, with the police taking a 'no tolerance policy' towards anyone who attempted to scare or assault a person, and/or vandalise the property of another.
Rules for trick or treating
In some places, like in Bellville, Missouri, the activity known as 'trick or treat' is only reserved for children, while anyone aged 13-14 years and above is banned from engaging in
the fun for trick or treating. There is an exception, however, for families where all their members collectively engage in the activity provided that the parents and their young children form a 'bubble'. Conversely in Rehoboth, Delaware trick or treating may have no age limit, but it does have
a time limit, which requires the activity to take place only between 18:00-20:00, while those who don't respect the strict schedule face fines. The rest of the world does not seem to be restricting trick or treating, unless of course a country prohibits celebrating Halloween altogether (e.g. Jordan - look below).
Due to the Covid19 outbreak, this year's Halloween is going to be different, as trick or treating has been banned or significantly restricted in the majority of the countries celebrating Halloween to prevent the spread of the virus. There are of course exceptions, depending on the area one is located. In this regard, the Downing Street (UK) has stated that trick or treating may take place depending on the local lockdown restrictions. Therefore, trick or treating may be allowed in all 'lockdown-free areas', while the 'rule of six' must be followed at all times. Similar measures are taken in the US where guidelines on how to celebrate safely, as well as engage in the activity of trick or treating, while social distancing, have been issued by the authorities.
Can celebrating Halloween be illegal?
Surprisingly, celebrating Halloween in Jordan is illegal since 2014. This translates to the complete ban of the festivity in the country: anyone dressed up for the occasion or attending a Halloween party might face police reaction including arrests. Additionally, celebrating Halloween can also be illegal in Rehoboth, Delaware, but only if the 31st of October is a Sunday! However, the law banning Halloween on Sundays is not absolute: private celebrations are permitted; but trick or treating and generally going out in public dressed up for the occasion is prohibited when Halloween is on a Sunday! Therefore, if you happen to be in Rehoboth in 2021 you better be careful as the next Halloween that falls on a Sunday is just around the corner!
Overall, even though some of these laws may sound weird, they aim to protect citizens. Although it
is hard to imagine how an unregulated Halloween can be a dangerous experience, in many instances, masquerading that conceals one's identity, leaves room for improper behaviour. Aside from any restrictions, Halloween is a joyful festivity, whilst the law is there to ensure everyone enjoys safely!
10 laws that can spoil your Halloween (Avvostories, 16 October 2019) accessed 30 October 2020
Ellen Atterbury, Weird Halloween laws to make you cackle (Flaherty & Collins, SC, 2019) accessed 27 October 2020
Greg Heffer, Coronavirus: Downing Street suggests trick or treating can take place in some parts of England (Skynews, 26 October 2020) accessed 28 October 2020
Halloween Laws (The University of Law, 24 October 2018) accessed 27 October 2020
Holiday Celebrations (CDC, 19 October 2020) accessed 29 October 2020
Weird Halloween Laws (Law Depot Blog, 23 October 2019) accessed 28 October 2020