I’m all for celebrating and having a good time–especially when yummy treats are involved–but I’ve never been a huge fan of Halloween. I know, I know, it makes me sound like a such a grump, but I always wonder where these commercial holidays come from, and how we ended up spending $6.86 billion a year on costumes that end up in the trash and candy that leaves us and our kids feeling crazy, cranky, and sick. It turns out that back in the day, Halloween was really a pre-party for All Saints Day, a time to celebrate–you guessed it–all the saints. And before that, the ancient Celts celebrated October 31st with a festival called Samhain, where everyone dressed up in costume to ward off ghosts. As for trick or treating, the act of giving out treats has its roots in the Middle Ages. The poor would beg for food in exchange for prayers for the dead on All Souls Day, which was on November 2nd. Though, some experts say that food was left out on the front step as offerings to the dead who wander the streets trying to return to their homes. I’d argue that any of these interpretations of our over-priced, over-hyped version are a lot more interesting and possibly spookier!
But no matter why you and your family choose to celebrate, there’s ways to keep things kind–whether it’s creating less waste or enjoying tastier treats without the naughty tricks on your body.
- Participate in a Costume Swap or buy halloween costumes and decorations used via eBay or Goodwill
- Talk with other neighbors who might be into a healthy Halloween and come up with a word or phrase that you can put on a sign in front of your house – that way, other kind parents will know that your house is serving healthy treats (check out the website Green Halloween or Grist for more suggestions about this)
- If your getting candy, choose candy that’s vegan, free of conventional palm oil, and ideally not wrapped in single-use plastic. You can also hand out non-candy goodies! Temporary tattoos, spooky stampers, halloween stickers.. all those things can be found pre-owned on eBay.
- Try “the Switch Witch” – she’s a good witch that comes and swaps your little one’s candies for a neat toy.
- Have a party and invite all your friends and their kids. Have fun decorating your place with some eco recycled halloween crafts. Instead of trick-or-treating, and serve a kind buffet
- Share stories possibly in costume
- When carving pumpkins, use your pumpkin seeds in a delicious recipe such as classically roasted, cinnamon & ginger roasted, and brown rice syrup-glazed tofu on pumpkin seed couscous
If your neighborhood isn’t down with a kind Halloween, but you still want to take your kids out, consider donating the candy they collect. Some people feel it’s bad to donate candy to anyone, but if they are going to eat it anyway, isn’t donating it better than wasting it? I do this with other items; for example, companies sometimes send me samples of self-care products that are filled with chemicals, and while I would never use them, I give them to someone I know is never going to buy kind cosmetics, ever. At least then I know they won’t go to waste and it prevents more chemicals from being made and purchased.
Another way to deal with Halloween candy is to unwrap and compost it. I asked Kitchen Gardeners International founder Roger Doiron about composting candy. He said you can, but just as you wouldn’t want to feed it to your kids, it’s not the best thing to put in your soil. Personally, I wouldn’t mess up my beautiful compost with candy – no way! But that said, it’s an option if you feel conflicted about donating.
What’s your take on it? Tell me how you plan to celebrate in the comments below! What do you do with your pumpkin seeds post carve? What is the yummiest recipe for pumpkin seeds??