Weird Halloween laws from around the world: from no masks to banning clowns

Even though the US is seen as the Halloween centre of the world, it has many restrictions around it  (Antonio Gabola / Unsplash)
Even though the US is seen as the Halloween centre of the world, it has many restrictions around it (Antonio Gabola / Unsplash)

Halloween is now a norm in London – but trick-or-treating traditions and costumed partygoers are not treated the same across the world.

Most laws that restrict those enjoying Halloween are largely to prevent antisocial behaviour and danger to the public, while other countries take it a bit further.

Perhaps the chaos of the supernatural is not for all.

So what are some of the super-strict Halloween laws from around the world?

Hollywood Halloween

2023 has brought with it some new Halloween rules. While not a crime, actors have been warned that dressing as characters from well-known TV shows and films would break the rules of the ongoing Hollywood strike.

That means costumes of Barbie, Wednesday Addams, and film superheroes are out.

"Choose costumes inspired by generalised characters and figures (ghost, zombie, spider etc)," Sag-Aftra advised its members.

The union also suggested that actors could dress as characters from content that does not fall under the strike rules, "like an animated TV show".

"Let's use our collective power to send a loud and clear message to our struck employers that we will not promote their content without a fair contract!"

In a tweet, Ryan Reynolds joked that he would "look forward to screaming 'scab' at my eight-year-old all night".

He added: "She's not in the union but she needs to learn."

No Hallow’s Eve

Jordan must be at the top of the list when it comes to strictest regulations on Halloween celebrations.

The country’s law forbids Halloween altogether, with the US embassy advising party people to completely cover costumes when travelling.

The transgression can be met with punishments including imprisonment.

Meanwhile, there are also restrictions in the United States. A town named Bellville in Missouri, has age-related limits on celebrations. Any child above the eighth grade is not allowed to trick or treat.

In Chesapeake, Virginia, those over 14 used to be threatened with jail time for engaging in the activity until a review in 2019 in response to public backlash.

On a Jimmy Kimmel Live! segment, the eponymous host said: “I do think trick-or-treating should be limited to little kids, not teenagers, but not with the threat of incarceration. […] It just seems like this particular crime is pretty much victimless.”

According to reports, however, the 1970 law had never been enforced.

Outlawed Ensembles

Masks are banned in many places (with no relation to Covid-19 face coverings), but specifically for children.

In Dublin, Georgia, US, anyone under the age of 16 is not allowed to wear a mask in public, with the same rule in Belleville, Illinois for under-12s.

New York has famously held this rule since the 1800s, while in Walnut Creek, California, you need special permission and licence from the sheriff to cover your face.

In California, private companies reserve the right to ban costumes on their premises altogether.

Over in the UK, police officer costumes are a no-go (according to the Police Act 1996). The punishment? You could be hit with six months in prison and an unlimited fine. Even if you don't mean any harm and weren't aware of the law, those dressed up could be fined up to £1,000.

You're also not safe if you're just carrying an item of police clothing – that can set you back as much as £200.

Don’t be a clown

 (Peter Byrne / PA Wire)
(Peter Byrne / PA Wire)

Clowns have been a source of anxiety long before the ‘killer crown’ craze – but it has no doubt worsened since.

Vendargues, a French village, banned clown costumes altogether to tackle this.

From October 31 and all through November, the characters are banned without special permission at festivals from local authorities.

In Bedfordshire, UK, the police also issued a statement back when the trend was still hot.

They said: “We will not tolerate anyone inflicting harm on others over Halloween, whether that is by intimidating and threatening them, or causing criminal damage. This behaviour will be taken seriously and you do risk a criminal record.”

Religious restrictions

Alabama maintains legislation stopping people from dressing as religious clerics all year long – a rule that probably has most effect on Halloween.

The ban on pious imitation is not limited to Christian priests, but religious ministers from any religion, with fines up to £500 or up to a year’s imprisonment.

Following the orthodox themes of no distractions, fake facial hair is also banned in Alabama churches – if it’s funny enough to make people laugh.

And Sunday candy is limited to church-goers alone for Rehoboth Beach residents in Delaware. If Halloween falls on a Sunday, people are prohibited from engaging in trick or treating, with fines up to $150.

Candy-collecting is also limited from 6pm to 8pm.