Dan Boone wrote:
And that's what Halloween is -- a community ritual. Happy children dressed in costume, knocking at your door begging for candy.
They're not begging for fruit leather, worms, pumpkin seeds, wool socks, toothbrushes, religious tracts, or no-bake cookies made with sorghum molasses and organic oats and carob chips. (Something that I was actually given as a trick-or-treater in my childhood.)
Your community may forgive you if you decline to participate in the ritual by turning off illumination at your house and not answering the door. People of good will, will assume you are not home. The rest will figure you are grumpy-grinches, but will probably give you a pass.
But if you illuminate your door and put up decorations and answer the doorbell with a bowl in your hand, the ritual expectation is that the bowl will contain what the little ghoulies want (candy) or something better.
I greatly agree with most of what Dan said, and much of what others here have said. Growing up, when my siblings and I were very young we had a very similar opinion. My parents were young when they had us and afraid to break out of the norm. They were scared of the habits we were learning though, and of the lack of community as a whole. As we got older though, they got braver and braver in asserting their beliefs that opposed the now accepted commercialised norm. And by the time I was 8 (I am the oldest) we started setting new holiday traditions ourselves. The candy was kicked to the curb, as was the excess in most cases. I'd love to go into detail about our various holiday traditions but I also do not wish to bore people.
For Hall-o-Ween (One of our favourites since our last name is Hall) we would run month long specials at our small town health food store as well as dress up in costumes, usually home made for the customers and decorate. My mother would make home made treats that while still not healthy, were super tasty and healthier than the packaged candy we were used to. Being a small town, and everyone knowing us we were fortunate that home made was of no concern. At home, we made a massive haunted house for trick-or-treaters to explore, with volunteers to play parts in the haunted house. We took polaroid pictures of the trick-or-treaters as they came in, and we had a caramel apple making table where they could make their own caramel apple and it would be ready to go by the time they were done with the haunted house. And my mother was very vigilant in helping kids make their caramel apples, ensuring hands were properly washed before hand and that fingers didn't make it into the topping trays, etc. Our home became a huge destination on Hall-o-ween and it built more community than anyone ever imagined.
After a few years, most kids skipped the regular trick or treating in the main part of town and talked their parents into coming out to our place instead. Sure, they were still eating an often candy laden caramel apple but I feel that is much better than a big bag of packaged candies. And many would go through the haunted house over and over again. People started helping more and more in the haunted house and it got better every year, and of course we made sure to change it up. And us kids, we didn't even miss the big bags of candy, we were too focused on helping plan the next haunted house and making sure everyone had a great time.
I still miss that, and look forward to doing it again when I can. Thank you so much for bringing up these good memories. I just spent a few weeks in the hospital and I am still recovering and I haven't felt this good in a while, just remembering all the fun we had as kids and in a way that wasn't eating gobs of candy. I personally still struggle with cutting sugar out of my diet but most of the time I can go without processed sugar for years at a time. It is insidious the way it can sneak into our diets and addict us. And the worst part is it is perfect for downward spirals. Typically I make everything myself from scratch because sugar and preservatives get put into everything. But when I get sick and cannot, you wind up with take out, or packaged foods and next thing you know you are craving more and more of the sugar. It makes you feel good short term before making you feel much much worse. Rinse, repeat. =(
Good luck all on establishing your new Hall-O-Ween traditions. And if I thought I could dress up and come for a seed/scion swap I would be all over that!!! I too love to dress up fun. Heck, I wear a cat eared headband at nearly all times because people cannot help but smile. And that is something we need a lot more of in the world is smiling. =) So anything I can do to promote it, I will. Even if that makes me a weirdo.