I guess it all depends on how its done. As a kid, we regularly had Halloween parties for the kids at the church. And I often went trick-or-treating, usually taken by my dad, who was a Lutheran pastor. Like anything with kids, care must be taken.
I understand the caution the archbishop wants everyone to consider when in comes to Halloween. At the same time, I do not see any problem with dressing up for trick-or-treating as long as it is not promoting the occult.
I mean, I’m dressing up as a hot dog to hand out candy.
The Origins of Halloween might also help a bit.
I fully agree with this article. Ameican halloween is out of control. For two months, stores are adorned with demonic figures with oozing blood and sinister voice activation. Houses decorate themselves to look like the gateway to hell. I have seen children crying as they leave department stores because the halloween displays are so horrifying. People constantly use the tern “harmless fun” to describe this demonic annual event. There is nothing harmless about. Children are being desensitized to the demonic and occultic trappings of this world.
It would be beneficial to have a church party with teachings about All Saints Day…with a vespers service for the evening of October 31th…followed by Liturgy on November 1 for All Saints Day.
I like the All Saints Day party idea. Kids could dress up like Moses with a Gandalf costume, complete with a staff and a long, white beard, or dress like Michael the Arc Angel, with wings and a sword. Girls could dress up with a suit of armor and a sword, like Joan of Arc. Sounds like fun!
Many Christians refuse to celebrate Halloween because they are convinced it is a pagan-derived celebration. Though I respect my Christian brethren’s beliefs, I’m afraid that such a notion could not be farther from the truth. All Hallows Eve originated as a specifically Christian vigil celebrating a huge triumph of the True Faith over paganism. There is no instrinsic reason why a Christian cannot celebrate or note this holy vigil, as it is neither pagan in origin nor, according to very old Christian custom, a celebration of anything from paganism.
In the Year of Our Lord, 609, on the thirteenth day of May, Pope St. Boniface IV consecrated the old pagan Pantheon in Rome into a Christian church. The Pantheon was built by the Romans as a house for all the “gods” of the world. By cleasning the Pantheon of idols and consecrating it, the Roman Church created a massive symbol of the triumph of the One True God over all false “gods” of pagandom. The saintly aforementioned Bishop of Rome then declared that May 13 was to be memorialized as a celebration of the Blessed Virgin Mary and all of the holy martyrs who died witnessing for Christ. This is the origin of All Saints Day. It corresponds to an earlier Eastern Christian feast after Pentecost which is the “All Saints” of Eastern Christianity. It should be noted that the idea of Halloween is absent from Eastern Christian thought. A century or so later in c. A.D. 735, Pope St. Gregory III consecrated a chapel in St. Peter’s Basilica to commemorate the translation (moving) of some holy relics of the Apostles into the basilica. Accordingly, he ordered that All Saints would fall thenceforth on that day: November 1st.
Early Christians (and Catholics and Orthodox today), like the Jews, have a vigil (usually a fast) before the major feasts of the People of God. All Saints was no different and the vigil of All Saints, in Old England, was called “All Hallows Eve” (that is: the evening of all the holy ones). This title transformed into “Halloween” in later centuries. To put it simply, All Saints (and its corresponding vigil) have no ties to paganism, but rather instead celebrate the cleansing of the Pantheon of pagan idols and its establishment as a Temple of the One True God…which it remains even to this day.
It was an incredibly sheer coincidence that the vigil fell on about the same day as the Celtic (primarily Gaelic) festival of Samhain. This is something that Pope St. Gregory III could not have known when he moved All Saints to November 1st. Seeking to win more souls to Jesus Christ, the Irish monks had already “Christified” Samhain (that is: removed the pagan theology that went with the practices), and the monks urged the Celtic Christians to celebrate the already existing Christian vigil of All Saints. Since the festival of Samhain had been stripped of pagan meaning, it was only natural that the Celtic Christians began mingling aspects of old Samhain and All Hallows Eve together. This mingling of practices passed into the English tradition due to Irish evangelization of the Anglo-Saxons. During the Reformation however, Protestants in England claimed that Halloween originated in Samhain (which, as we know from above, is false). Thus they villified the day (as they did many other indigenous Christian customs in Britain) and began to teach that it should not be celebrated. That view reached a fever pitch with the rise of Protestant fundamentalism, and Halloween became a symbol of the Devil and all that is pagan and evil.
What a terrible accident of history! What was once a beautiful fast celebrating the One True God became seen as pagan and unworthy of memory. That is the myth of Halloween under which so many Christians labor.
TO BE CONTINUED…
It is certainly true though that the modern and late medieval All Hallows Eve in England took on old pagan practices (whose pagan beliefs and temptations were long neutralized by the Gospel). These neutralized practices were carried to the New World by English settlers. No such practices exist in French, Spanish, and Italian celebrations of All Hallows Eve; proof that the denigration of Halloween is an English fascination. Anglo-American commercialization and hype did indeed, in recent years however, turn the old vigil of Christian victory into a celebration of all that is dark and the macabre (mainly to make money). In no way am I saying that such practices focusing on immorality or the Devil are okay: they are NOT. Indeed, not even the pagan practices of Samhain had such a grotesque focus as our modern American notion of Halloween! But it is important to recognize the full truth of a subject beyond mere appearances it may have gained (or been forced into) through later ages.
Nevertheless, we may ask: Where did such a focus on death come from originally? Here is the answer: Christians and Jews simply do not fast on High Holy Days as they are joyous celebrations of God. Rather, the vigil was seen as a preparatory fast in order to make the Christian ready to celebrate the feast. The problem for early Christians in the West however was that All Souls Day (which commemorates all faithful Christians who have died) came directly after All Saints Day. Since one cannot fast for All Souls on All Saints, the vigil of All Hallows Eve took on also the preparatory penitence of All Souls. Thus, to this day, Halloween has a focus on the dead…but this is simply NOT from Samhain (which is a uniquely Celtic custom, and only took root in England due to proximity).
So what did Christians do on Halloween? First, they celebrated All Saints on the evening before (Halloween evening) with the Holy Eucharist and prayer after darkness fell. The day was one of fasting from foods (i.e. reducing food intake) and abstinence from meat; all part of the preparations for the two great feasts on November 1st and 2nd. They often wore black so as to “memento mori,” that is: to remember death and the importance of persevering to the end in the Christian Faith. They also displayed what were known as “vanities”; symbols of death & time like skulls, deathmasks, hourglasses, wilted flowers and other reminders of death so as to impress upon themselves the same theology of serving God alone until death…and to remember that we are not promised a “tomorrow.” Finally, they donated money to charity and to the Church so as to do penance for their sins, the sins of their dead loved ones, and to help others in need according to Christ’s command. Many devout Christians throughout the world, who know the truth about Halloween’s Christian origins, continue these customs (including myself).
In conclusion, if anyone tells you that you shouldn’t recognize Halloween because it is “pagan,” please do not be troubled. Halloween is far from a pagan celebration; quite the contrary! Halloween marks one of the greatest triumphs of Jesus Christ over false “deities” and of His Gospel over all deceptions of the Devil. If you celebrate Halloween according to Christian customs and/or with amusement free from immorality, then celebrate Halloween proudly!!! Know that you honor the Lord Jesus Christ and His holy ones as you do so.
All honor and glory be to God alone!
With your indulgence, a little humor on the subject.
Of course fasting is an ancient practice of the Church.
Black is a typical monastic color.
Remembrance of death is a common ascetical way of life.
Giving to the poor is a good work.
My family and I do not recognize halloween…because of what it has become in America. For two months, stores are adorned with demonic figures with oozing blood and sinister voice activation. Houses decorate themselves to look like the gateway to hell. I have seen children crying as they leave department stores because the halloween displays are so horrifying. People constantly use the tern “harmless fun” to describe this demonic annual event. There is nothing harmless about it. Children are being desensitized to the demonic and occultic trappings of this world. Monastic ascetism tells us to remember death…but that does not mean to invite demonic images into your life.
It would be beneficial to have a church party with teachings about All Saints Day and All Souls Day…with a vespers service for the evening of October 31th…followed by Liturgy on November 1 for All Saints Day.
At our parish, every All Saints day a host of 2nd and 3rd graders dress up as saints, and briefly tell their story and what their intercession is for at the lectern during Mass. It’s the most precious thing you’ve seen -everybody is smiling ear to ear the whole time
I myself haven’t participated in Halloween since I was a kid. And, I think “adult” Halloween is even worse… it’s all about partying: (lust, gluttony, and drunkenness). And our response as Catholics should be to bring back Halloween as All Hallows Eve, and of course All Saint’s day. These are Catholic holidays, and we should shamelessly plug our faith in the public square because of that, IMO.
The thing that a lot of people forget is that Halloween wasn’t just an Irish holiday. The Scots were very big into Halloween, too. In fact, Robert Burns wrote a famous poem about some of the typical rural Scots customs in the area he came from. Ditto the Manx. Ditto the Bretons. Ditto pretty much everybody in northwestern Europe.
There’s always been a strong element of the macabre about Halloween, because it was leading up to all the pious holidays for the saints and for all souls – and because priests would preach lots about Purgatory and Hell as well as Heaven. Of course spooky stories came into the picture. You want some spooky darned stories, check out some of the medieval “exempla” collections for preachers preparing homilies. Brr!
Collecting alms, singing for goodies and drinks, and dressing up in spooky or funny masquerades have long been common at holiday times in Europe, particularly in spring (when the food started showing up) and fall and winter (after harvest) when people had more time and energy for shenanigans. Sometimes this is done by kids, sometimes by adults, sometimes by everybody. For example, in many parts of Germany, people wear costumes, collect treats, and carried turnip lanterns for St. Martin’s Day, on November 11. (Today it’s usually paper lanterns and LEDs, etc.)
The time before All Souls’ Day was particularly apt for collecting alms for the Poor Souls (for Masses for them) and for doing good deeds in their honor (giving goodies to kids).
Spooky costumes of monsters and demons are not a modern invention, either. There were many costumes where people dressed up as the bad guys, usually to scare the devil out of people. (Literally, because it was supposed to put the fear of Hell and the desire of Heaven into you. Even if only in play.) There was the Rogation Days dragon, for example, which was found all over Europe, the devil who hung around with St. Nicholas and gave the bad kids coal, and many more. Halloween was just one of many spooky occasions.
(In fact, our current pope fondly remembers the visit to his classroom of St. Nicholas and his devilish companion, as the person playing the bad guy pretended to be pulling and pounding down the door to get at the kids, and the nun teachers pretended to be holding the door closed to keep him out.)
Happy halloween!!! :d
Time to store away the demons for another year. :shrug:
Good riddance American halloween!
Poles who are concerned about Halloween should first remove the log in their eye and explain Smigus Dyngus or why they drown the Kukla Marzanna in the river. Halloween is more Catholic than the afore-mentioned celebrations (which cause me no concern at all).
I think I’ll listen to the Archbishop…and not you.