What is Halloween? The answer depends on how far back you want to go and you should go back to precede the time when it became Halloween. The time if celebration for the days October 31-November 2 goes back at least as far as the times of the Druids in western Europe. Some of the Druids appear to have been pretty evil people and I don't like to read or write about them. Much of this evil, death worship, human sacrifice and other pagan ceremonials, continued on into the time of the Celts. Understanding this should make one not be interested in a present resurgence of wearing Celtic jewelry. I'm partly descended from western European ancestry but the Druid / Celtic rituals or ocultism is nothing I want to revive.
Halloween as a name for the celebration came about during the first half of 800 A.D. When Pope Gregory IV established November 1 as "All Saints Day", "All Hallows Day" refers to the Saints and means the same thing. The Pope did this to substitute a Catholic celebration for a pagan celebration. I understand the same reasoning was behind establishing December 25 as the birthday of Jesus as no one knows the actual day of the year Jesus was born. Later November 2 became all souls day when Catholics would pray for the dead who were agonizing over their state of being neither in Heaven nor Hell.
The night before "All Hallows Day" would be known as "All Hallows Eve". Given dialects and time you can see how "All Hallows Eve" became "Halloween." All Hallows eve was supposed to be a special night when the dead could get up and romp around. Depending on the time or place the dead could be mischievous or murderous.
The pagans were able to keep All Hallows Eve evil and about the dead, I think because of the Catholic emphasis on purgatory and not on the Biblical principal of the dead being in either Heaven or Hell, and not out wandering around.
It is a good objective lesson for Christians even involving Halloween, and that is, If you do things like everybody else but give it a different name, no one is fooled.
As Christianity, even Catholic & Orthodox Christianity, spread All Hallows Eve diminished and it, or a pagan substitute, was only practiced by certain of the western European Catholics, pagans and the deceived that wanted to cover all the spiritual bases.
In the United States I understand that Halloween was not celebrated, except by a few Catholic Parishes from the 1800s until the "Great Potato Famine" in Ireland when thousands of Irish migrated to the New World and brought the custom along. I understand Halloween is a national holiday in Ireland. As I mentioned I'm part Irish and perhaps some of my ancestors came over during the famine, but I'm not into Leprechauns, let alone Celtic spiritism.
Halloween, especially in the U.S., probably would have passed into history but for crass commercialism and a continuing effort by occultist to keep it a pagan holiday. Satan has always tried to cloak evil in a seemingly innocent wrap. These days what were once considered practitioners of the black arts and witches, now belong to the "Wiccan" religion and I understand they have Chaplains serving the military forces.
So, is Halloween just an innocent celebration for children? If not, should churches offer an alternative activity, as many do.
It is my opinion that Halloween is not an innocent celebration for children because of one, the evil history it tends to commemorate; two, the ties to occultism that is perpetuated by those of an evil disposition; three, I can't imagine Jesus looking down on the children he loves so much, running about the streets basically trying to see how much candy they can amass while dressed in garb portraying evil and the dead. What? Your children wear simple non-threatening costumes? On Halloween any costume is a costume. Just giving something a little different look or name does not make it different.
In California, after a presentation I had made, a man came up to me and asked if I felt smoking was a sin. I told him yes because of the damage to ones body, how offensive it is to some, and the association with bar rooms and other undesirable conduct. He said he agreed with me but that he smoked a pipe and he felt that was ok. What do you think?
What does the Bible say?
In 3 John, Paul was commenting on the hospitality of Gaius' hospitality and his setting a good example. In referring to others he said in verse 11 in the letter to Gaius, " Dear friend, do not imitate what is evil but what is good. Anyone who does what is good is from God. Anyone who does what is evil has not seen God". Read Ephesians 11:1 but especially 2 Corinthians 6:14-18. The Promise Keepers NIV Men's Study Bible refers to this passage as a "contamination alert". Paul warns us that we can become contaminated by associating with evil.
Having children cooperate in not participating in Halloween is not done by telling them just beforehand that they cannot. It is done in the way and with the attitude you raise them and teach them all year round. It is demonstrated in your own life style before them and the confidence you demonstrate in your Christian life. I feel it is important too that they be told, if they are old enough, about the history of the day and it's associations.
If you still feel that you must have your children participate I would suggest that you avoid as much as possible contributing to the crass commercialism.