I had a cousin who wasn't allowed to participate in Halloween for religious reasons. I didn't quite understand why, but didn't really ask either. For us, it was always a fun and innocent occasion. Even as an adult, I didn't think much of Halloween. I carved a pumpkin and bought candy to hand out to the little trick-or-treaters each year.
Then, David and I moved to a different area of the country and became exposed to an entirely different side of Halloween. Halloween isn't just an occasion for costumes and candy, it's a full celebration. The town even holds a parade in honor of the occasion. In August houses are decorated with fall scarecrows, pumpkins and mums much like they are where we grew up. But by mid-September those decorations are removed, and in their place come bloody dismembered heads, hands and feet hanging from porches, front yards transformed into graveyards- some with the likes of decomposed bodies partially appearing from the "plots," portrayals of demons and ghosts in windows. It's not hard at all to find one of these displays. Terrifying "haunted" houses are very popular as well. To us, it's all shocking and disturbing. It's just not something that is practiced where we grew up. It has definitely exposed us to the full scope of the Halloween holiday.
We discussed how we would desire to handle Halloween for our family. We noted that even if friendly costumes and candy was the extent of participation, there still exists some element of the holiday which elicits a sinister nature of celebration. We don't desire to be a part of anything which would have that kind of characteristic. So, our son will not be dressed up in a costume and we will not be handing out candy (hooray for saving all that money!). We will be inside our home enjoy family time just like any other evening. In the future, we may use this night as a movie night and do a fun meal or activity.
As long as we make the evening fun and emphasize togetherness, we don't believe our children will be missing out on anything. We have lots of other ways to celebrate the end of the year seasons and holidays. We currently have a list of activities for the Thanksgiving and Christmas seasons. I hope to create a fall activities list for next year. We're always celebrating this time of year, but very purposeful as to what we're celebrating.
(Note: This is a highly debated topic, and I'm not looking for a debate. I'm simply sharing what we've decided for our family. If your family chooses something else, then I respect that. I ask that you respect our choice and reasoning as well. Thanks)