||Regarding Halloween - This is what I learned from my mother:
Halloween is the "Eve of All Hallowed Saints"- Nov. 1. It is a Catholic holiday that is celebrated world wide by Catholic people who go to church and make a feast. According to the Catholic religion, the Eve before, Hallowed Eve'n is the time in which the "devil and emissaries" have their opportunity to rule. (My mother ALWAYS taught us WHY we don't participate in these "secular" holidays).
Okay, now that you know this, please ask yourself if you want to bring this "secular" (and I mean secular like St. Valentines Day, St Patricks Day, Christmas, Easter and of course my favorite "the celebration of Jesus's brit milah aka New Years Day) holiday into your home in any way shape or form???
While I am sure there is nothing "wrong" with giving candy to trick or treaters, will your children be satisfied with that ? will they want to participate, dress up, go to parties etc etc etc until the Eve of all Hallowed Saints becomes a holiday in your home?
Last year, was the first year I noticed that kosher Restaurants in NY under hashgacha were advertising "New Years Eve -aka Jesus's Brit Day" Parties. I guess the hoopla surrounding the birth of the Christian Messiah has become an acceptable (under Rabbinical supervision at least) holiday for the kosher consumer to celebrate.
How do we know when we have "opened the door" just a little too much?
So many of us think that as observant Jews we are quite immune from following in the ways of the Goyim. I will tell you differently by saying just this one thing:
Fifteen years ago I went into the accessories business (this included wigs for many years too). When I started, my highest sales months were Pre-Rosh Hashana and Pre Pesah. I always had a clearance sale (as did my suppliers who are all Shomer Shabbat companies) in November and Lag B'Omer. Today there is hardly any noticible pre Yom Tov rush and November-December are the biggest months of sales due to the "Hanukkah" shopping. Clearance sales from the suppliers are held in January.
Now I ask you this:
Due to the nature of my merchandise, my market has always been modestly dressed, hair covering women. Most Jews, even today, know that traditionally Hanukkah is a minor holiday celebrated with trinkets and fried foods. Most Jews I ask who grew up Reform and Conservative 30 years ago in America will tell you that they always bought their clothing (big shopping) for the Fall Yom Tovim and for Pesah.
What happened to us here in America that we decided to participate in the December madness instead of merely profiting from it???? (Isn't Christmas Hashems gift to Jews in retail? Isn't it a violation of the 11th commandment to PAY retail? What happened to us that we started SHOPPING in December instead of SELLING in December?)
With regard to Halloween, is it so terrible to not answer the door and tell your children that "this is not for us"? After all, I hope you don't answer the door for the missionaries who come by. Isn't letting the "Eve of All Hallowed Saints" into your house, even just a little, just about the same as letting "those nice people from the Mormons" in to chat over tea?
We need to know what we are and that we are different from our neighbours.
While there is nothing per se "wrong" with Hanukkah or Halloween gifts, do look at Jews who are coming from Muslim lands and observe what their "gift-giving" traditions are regarding Hanukkah vs those of Jews from Christian lands. I think it is important to stay separate EVEN in a free country where we are completely free to assimilate.
Maybe in your house you will buy candy for Halloween, maybe in your children's house they will say "my mother always did this" so its not forbidden, and they will let their children will go out
in costume and then (chas v'shalom) will your grandchildren continue the celebration of All Hallowed Eve by feasting on Nov. 1??