Top Ten Ways to Have a Catholic Halloween

Oct 27th, 2010 | By | Category: Blog Posts

Sean, our blog editor, asked me to throw up this post to give a perspective on the practical side of Catholicism. Here at Called to Communion we wade into pretty deep water, here’s something lighter and seasonal: Top Ten Ways to Have a Catholic Halloween.

This time of year introduces several debates. Among conservative Protestants it’s “Halloween or no Halloween?” which sometimes becomes “Halloween vs. Reformation Day,” the latter being the celebration of Martin Luther’s posting of the 95 Theses on Oct 31. Even some Catholics are concerned that Halloween has become “evil.” Well, here are ten ways to keep good ol’ Halloween fun and sacred.

10. Don’t call it “Satan’s Holiday”!

There are many Christians who have written off Halloween as some sort of diabolical black mass. It’s the vigil of a Christian holy day: All Hallows’ Eve or All Saints Eve. Has it been corrupted by our culture and consumer market? You bet. However, Christmas has also been derailed by the culture. Does that mean that we’re going hand over Christmas? No way! Same goes for Halloween. The Church does not surrender what rightfully belongs to her – she wins it back!

9. Don’t feel that you have to opt for an “Halloween alternative”.

Many churches (particularly Protestant ones) are now how hosting “Fall Festivals” (or worse, “Reformation Day”). I’ve been to several and they are particularly good if you have toddlers who otherwise wouldn’t enjoying walking around the neighborhood “trick or treating”. Unless you have seriously hesitations about your neighborhood, why not join your neighbors? It could be a great opportunity to get to know them and spark up some relationships. I’ve gotten to know some neighborhood dads as we stand out on the curb and watch our kids go up and the ring the door bells of every house on the street.

8. Be safe.

Check all the candy. Have the kids wear glow sticks. Dress warm. Stick together.

7. Be hospitable – Why not host the neighborhood party?

Christians are supposed to be hospitable, right? Why not host a Trick or Treating after party at your house with hot chocolate and coffee for the adults. Open up your house or back yard for games. Remember bobbing for apples?

6. Don’t be turned off by the ghoulish-ness of Halloween.

Every great Catholic cathedral has gargoyles carved into its stone work. Illuminated manuscripts are also full of ghouls in the margins. Catholics are into this kind of stuff. Why? Because Christ has conquered death and the devil. After Christ, death has lost its sting. Also, All Saints day is followed by All Souls day so it’s okay to be a little macabre. (By the way the word “macabre” comes from Maccabees – those two books in the Catholic Bible that Protestants threw out.) And if you live in an Hispanic area like I do, you’ve got the whole Dia de Muertos to play up.

5. Have fun, don’t force converts.

Look, nobody likes to get a religious tract in their candy sack. Don’t pass out religious literature. Give out big handfuls of candy and the extra large candy bars, if you can. In the long run, you will make more converts with your charity. After all, you’ll be known as “the house that always gives out good candy”.

4. Have a bonfire!

We Catholics used to specialize in bonfires. If you have the land and it’s legal, stoke up a blaze. If you’re kids are older why not set out a bunch of glowing jack-o-lanterns and roast marshmallows over a blazing-hot fire? If someone can play the fiddle, all the better.

3. Carve some fine looking Jack-O-Lanterns.

This is a no-brainer. Download some fancy cutting patterns from the web. Spend time as a family carving out some pumpkins. Put some candles in them and let them burn outside your house for a week or so before Halloween. My kids always like to see who has jack-o-lanterns in front of their house. Do you want to make friends in the neighborhood? Have a carving party and give a prize to the best jack-o-lantern.

2. Visit the graves of your loved ones

This applies more to All Souls Day (Nov 2) than it does to All Saints Day (Nov 1). Still the point is to remember our loved ones and to pray for those who have died marked with the sign of faith. Death is not the last word. Christ has overcome death by His own sorrowful passion and death through the resurrection. That is is the source of our hope and strength of all the saints.

1. Be holy.

If you persevere in the love and grace of God, you too shall be a saint. The whole point of “All Hallows” is to remind us to be “hallowed” or “sanctified”. Most of us won’t have our own particular feast day and so All Saints Day will be our feast day. It is the feast day for most of the Church’s saints, those who lived peaceably, followed Christ, loved their families, accomplished their duties in life and passed on to the next life. May their prayers be with us.

Have other Halloween ideas? Share them in the comment box.

This article originally appeared at Canterbury Tales by Taylor Marshall.

6 comments
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  1. My Church is having a “To be a Saint” party on the 30th. It is a 3 hour “retreat” for the kids where they dress up as their favorite Saint and do all sorts of cool stuff. For me it is great, because if I spend a little money on a Saint costume they can wear it the next day for Halloween. And they really want to learn all about their saint. My 7 year old is wearing a costume from Target that was supposed to be Cleopatra. With a red curtain over the shoulders and a plastic lily in her hands and a crown of roses I made from various odds and ends at a craft store, she is now -tada- St. Philomena. $25 and she now has a costume that she can use for dress up play all year round.

    My 5 year old is dressing as Queen St. Elisabeth of Hungary. (making use of the princess costume she already has!) Put some flowers or loaves of bread and fake gold coins in her hand and *poof* she is getting excited about a Saint and learning about her instead of learning about Cinderella.

    The plastic lily I mentioned looks quite real and exactly like the ones you see held by many saints (St. Joseph for instance) You can get it at a craft store that sells fake flowers for a few bucks and it is amazing how it transforms a costume.

  2. This is a time when authority is a real blessing. There are so many Christians saying we are sinning badly if we give out candies. How can we ignore them? Some we know to be otherwise very good Christian people. They have their reasons. Can we be sure they are wrong? As a protestant I was always bothered by that nagging feeling that I might be offending God without knowing it.

    As a Catholic I just need to watch the bishops. If they don’t declare something to be sinful then I can take my cue from that. The pope might not know anything about Halloween but many bishops across North America certainly do. Have any told their flock to avoid it? I am not aware of that happening. So we don’t need to be afraid because some Christian somewhere is concerned. We have shepherds. If they don’t discern a problem we can trust them.

  3. Father Augustine Thompson, O.P. wrote an article about Halloween for Catholic Parents magazine that I found to be very enlightening. That article is excepted here: Surprise: Halloween’s Not a Pagan Festival After All

    From the article: “The next time someone claims that Halloween is a cruel trick to lure your children into devil worship, I suggest you tell them the real origin of All Hallows Even and invite them to discover its Christian significance, along with the two greater and more important Catholic festivals that follow it.”

  4. “There are many Christians who have written off Halloween as some sort of diabolical black mass. It’s the vigil of a Christian holy day: All Hallows’ Eve or All Saints Eve. Has it been corrupted by our culture and consumer market? You bet. However, Christmas has also been derailed by the culture. Does that mean that we’re going hand over Christmas? No way! Same goes for Halloween. The Church does not surrender what rightfully belongs to her – she wins it back!” Well said, thank you Taylor!

  5. Well said, Taylor. Be good neighbors, love those around us, remember the ‘reason for the season [or day].’

    Peace in Christ,
    Tom B.

  6. Dressing up your children as Saints is a suggestion I believe is good. It’s a way to keep from insulating your children from society while at the same time opening the door for catechesis. Our eldest is dressing up as St. George, our youngest as St. Benedict.

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