After having our first child, my husband and I considered if we would allow our children to partake in Halloween festivities. At first thought, Halloween appears to be sinful, right? Goblins, witches, ghosts, the evil one, gluttony (excess candy consumption), vampires, haunted houses, and evils spirits…no thank you! However, upon further research, we found that we shouldn’t fret, those are all things secular society wants you to think is about Halloween.
Halloween is actually OUR holiday. Yes, that’s right! History proves that Halloween is a Catholic holiday!
In fact, historically, Halloween was once a time for Christians to partake in a “holy mockery of the devil” by celebrating in the victory of Jesus Christ over evil and death. As St. Thomas More said, “the proud spirit cannot endure to be mocked.”
Therefore, my husband and I decided that we were going to let our children partake in our version of Halloween.
The History of Halloween
Halloween comes from the phrase “All Hallows Eve.” Hallows means Holy or Saints and “All Hallows Eve,” or “Hallowe’en” is just the night before a very important Holy Day of Obligation in the Catholic Church: All Saints Day!
In 609 AD, Pope Boniface IV established All Saints Day on May 13 and then in the mid-eighth century, Pope Gregory III moved All Saints Day to November 1. All Saints Day is a day which is dedicated to the saints of the Catholic Church.
The day after All Saints Day is All Souls Day. All Souls Day is dedicated to those souls who have died and not yet gone to heaven and is annually observed on November 2.
To me, not being able to reach heaven after my life on Earth is finished is scarier than any horror movie, haunted house or literally anything in the entire world. Read about St. John Bosco’s dreams of hell if you don’t agree.
How We Celebrate Halloween
Our family forgoes haunted houses, scary movies, or trick-or-treating and instead we enjoy a quiet night at home making homemade cookies, carving or painting pumpkins, and watching “It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown.” We do dress our littles up as their favorite Saint. While I am sure my son will eventually outgrow his desire to be Saint Michael and destroy demons, it is fun and edifying to both learn about great Saints and watch our children dress up as them.
How We Don’t Celebrate Halloween
We don’t mess around with Ouija boards, fortune tellers, spells, séances or anything of the sort.
Why? In the Bible, we are told… “Do not turn to mediums or spiritists; do not seek them out to be defiled by them. I am the LORD your God” (Leviticus 19:31). And “Let no one be found among you who sacrifices their son or daughter in the fire, who practices divination or sorcery, interprets omens, engages in witchcraft, or casts spells, or who is a medium or spiritist or who consults the dead. Anyone who does these things is detestable to the LORD; because of these same detestable practices the LORD your God will drive out those nations before you” (Deuteronomy 18:10-12).
I think God is clear on that point, but, if you need more reason, consider that Catholic Church exorcists have said that 90% of their very worst cases involving demonic activity have been linked to the use of the Ouija board. (Source: www.catholic.com/qa/are-ouija-boards-harmless)
We also don’t forget the “reason for the Halloween season,” which is All Saints and All Souls Day.
We make it a point to highlight to our children that All Saints Day is more important than Halloween. That means we get ready for Mass on Halloween by laying out clothes, getting after-Mass snacks and water bottles ready and then head to bed at a reasonable time. Then we always attend Mass on All Saints Day (those who deliberately fail in their obligation to attend Sunday Mass or Mass on a Holy day of Obligation commit grave sin.)
Then, the next day on All Souls Day, we visit a Cemetery to pray for souls of the departed who may be in Purgatory. Bonus: One can gain a plenary indulgence each and every day from November 1st to November 8th for the souls in purgatory (if all conditions are met) by praying in a cemetery for the departed, either spoken or mental prayer.
In addition, we pray the Eternal Rest prayer for our family and friends who have passed away and explain to our children that we must always pray for them that they may gain Heaven. We explain that they need our prayers to get to Heaven faster if they are in Purgatory. More on that topic next month!
For now, my family and I wish you all a blessed and Holy Hallows’ Eve!
Christina Frye is a lifelong Rhode Islander, wife, mother and founder of Catholic Mom Rhode Island, www.CatholicMomRI.com.