Monday, October 25, 2010

Halloween, All Saints Day, and All Souls Day- Let's Sort it Out

Although it is often associated with the pagan Celtic new year festival Samhain, Halloween is the Catholic "All Hallows Eve." That is- the Eve of Hallowmas, more commonly known as "All Saints Day" (Nov. 1st). The Mass of the Holy Ones- Get it?

So, there is nothing inherently evil about it- unless you count the damage it does to my waistline. (Can't resist those fun-size Mounds bars.) But like anything that's become secularized, you'll have to reclaim it if you want any use to come of it. Some Catholic families encourage their kids to dress as saints and angels instead of cats, ninjas, and superheroes. But even if you allow the little (or not so little) darlings to dress in secular costume, you'll probably want to discourage the glorification of devils and Freddy Krueger.

But what about ghosts, zombies and other walking dead? That's up to you. All souls day (Nov. 2nd) arrives on the coattails of All Saints Day. Images of skeletons abound if you're a Mexican Catholic. At my parish we have many Mexican parishioners, so a special ofrenda (altar of the dead) is always set-up in the narthex throughout November. (See the sugar skulls my family made last year.)

The point I'm failing to make is I don't think the image of death need be avoided at Halloween. Painting bloody wounds on the neck of your little "Saint Cecilia" seems perfectly logical and Catholic. Generic dead things- skeletons et al., are a reminder of our mortality and our dependence on God.

Speaking of which- Read the story of Jack o' the Lantern - (included in this article at American Catholic) It's a morality tale as well as an explanation of why we carve up vegetables and stick candles in them on Halloween. You may want to make the reading of this story a Halloween tradition in your home.

"Taking Back Our 'Holy' Halloween" on Catholic Answers  will give you tons more info on Halloween.

*Zombies are on tomorrow's blog menu, so stay tuned.

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