Thursday, October 24, 2013

What is the point of Halloween?

/ˌhaləˈwēn, ˌhälə-, -ōˈēn/
A contraction of All Hallows' Eve. The eve of All Saints Day celebrated yearly on October 31st

For as far back as I can remember I've never really understood what Halloween was all about. I mean yes I knew how it was celebrated, but I didn't understand what the purpose was. Over the years as I got older, I understood it even less and now as a mother I'm beginning to hate it.  To me it is just one big contradiction of everything we teach our children year round. We teach them not talk to strangers, not to accept candy from strangers, not to eat too much candy and most of all not to go to strangers homes. But on halloween,  it's suddenly okay break all those rules. I don't get it.

The word Halloween  dates back to the 18th century when it was celebrated as All Hallows' Evening, and that eventually was cut short to Hallows' Even, hallowe'en and then Halloween. It was somehow celebrated as both a christian & pagan day; a festival of the dead for the pagans and a remembrance of saints for the Christians.  Over the years these celebrations have somehow fused together to become all about zombies, vampires, witches, ghosts, gory decorations and "trick or treating". You have to forgive me for being confused but how is it a celebration of the dead to put up creepy decorations, and walk the streets at night asking for candy? As I researched this topic in depth I found that many of the symbols associated with halloween such as the jack-o-lantern have dark origins that just don't sit well with me. I want to be able to give my child a level headed explanation of why we celebrate a day like this, and frankly no such explanation exists. As a christian, I am not a fan of  the label 'christian' being attached to celebrations just because one church or a few churches participate in it. The term christian simply means "Christ like" and I don't see how anything about halloween is Christ like in the slightest. Basically I am not a fan of halloween!!

To make matters worse, it's now a big excuse for daycare parties with lots of junk food on the menu. I have heard from many other frustrated moms that their child's daycare has already posted a halloween party menu. Most of these menus have a long list of junk food and no "real food", so the toddlers are going to fill their little bellies with candy, cookies, cakes, juice drinks and other  unhealthy "treats". And supposedly its all okay because its "just one day". The thing is, toddlers are not robots, they can't switch their cravings on and off like that. After introducing them to a binge of treats, they expect more of that the next day, they cry for it, and worst of all they refuse to eat the normal healthy food that they had liked before, because now they know there is something "better" out there.

Personally I don't understand the point of giving candy to young toddlers at all, for any reason. What is the benefit of it? To make them happy? My 18 month old gets offered lollipops all the time, and she just hands them over to me and I 'save' them for her. And when I say 'save them' what I really mean is I throw them in my reject pile of junk food labelled 'never to be eaten'. She doesn't know what lollipops are, and that's working great for me right now. There are so many healthy treats out there that candy seems completely unnecessary at this age.

The worst part of the daycare halloween menu is that the parents are supposed to provide these treats. I decided to ignore the obvious treats on the list and look for a healthier option. After searching online, I found several ideas for healthy yet fun fall inspired treats on pinterest. I decided to go for the easiest option of all, since I won't have much time in the morning to prepare this for her class. I chose the clementine pumpkins shown below. They are cute, sweet and healthy, so I'm happy to make this for my daughter's daycare halloween party. All it takes is a bag of clementines and celery sticks cut down to size!

I also found that there are many other healthy treats for kids that still promote healthy eating habits such as these pretzel cheese and hive brooms that I also found on pinterest.

I guess I should say Happy Halloween in advance? I think not. How about Happy Fall!