My wife shared with me a recent discussion on a Catholic homeschooling forum that she follows. The conversation was about whether it is okay to celebrate Halloween. This was a more heated discussion than you would think with opinions ranging from "Celebrating Halloween is a sin!" to "It's just costumes and candy, stop being such a killjoy!" Most parents online were just looking for guidance on what was best for their kids.
We're in an unusual position. Due to a ferocious number of dietary issues, our kids are off sugars. Let me tell you, nothing puts a damper on trick-or-treat'ing like the realization you can’t have any of the stuff being handed out. It's even less fun than being given paper clips as a treat. At least you can do something with a paper clip. When you remove "eat the candy" as an option, the other uses for fun-size chocolate bars is surprisingly limited.
Our kids have also told us they don't like Halloween because the costumes are scary. Our youngest duckling (the 3 year old) used the word "creepy" to describe Halloween decorations in our neighborhood. I'm not sure where she got "creepy" from, but I'm glad she's letting us know how she's feeling.
But it is an interesting point - what are we celebrating? I won't go so far as to say that it's wrong to celebrate Halloween, but what message are we trying to teach our kids? Is it the candy that's the main attraction? There are plenty of ways outside of Halloween to increase our children's sugar intake. Is it the dressing up in costumes? Again, we can let our kids dress up as knights or princesses or cats when they're playing at home. Having a dress up box with lots of versatile items for costumes is a great way for children to exercise their imagination. So is the appeal of Halloween the opportunity to dress up in different or morbid costumes? Letting them to pretend to be ghosts, zombies, vampires or other monsters roaming the neighborhood. I would ask again - why? What is it that we want our kids to gain and learn from this experience?
We want our children to be exposed to that which is beautiful and draws us closer to God. Anything that is neither beautiful or strengthening our relationship with, and understanding of, God isn't worth pursuing.
For Halloween, as with dozens of other regular opportunities, rather than automatically going with the crowd, ask yourself what it is that you hope your child will take away from participating in this activity. Then see if that outcome lines up with the other parenting decisions you've made and if this specific activity is the best option for your child to gain those desired experiences. If it is not, consider other alternative options that do a better job of providing the beautiful experiences to grow and learn that we want our children to have.