It’s that time of year again, that time when the nutburgers begin to try to scare the parents and grandparents by telling them that they are leading their children into hell if they let them participate in Halloween festivities.
I called may parents today and told them that dressing me up as a clown (a costume which won the prize as the funniest at a party!), Father Time (which won the most original as Halloween fell on Daylight Savings Time one year) or the Six Million Dollar Man (which didn’t win a darn thing–but I liked it) was placing my soul in danger. That all my years of working for the Catholic Church has been ruse. Especially since they have already doomed me by letting me bob for apples. That Satan’s got me good!
The interesting thing is that Halloween actually stands for All Hallow’s Eve–the night before All Saint’s Day. And to get the pagans to believe in the Saints Christians appropriated this day to coincide with the time of year that the Celts believed that there was a “thin veil” between the living and the dead. The druid feast day of Samhain was celebrated on November 1 and this marked the end of summer and harvest period and the beginning of the winter. The Celts associated the winter with death and believed that on the night before Samhain the boundary between the living and the dead was distorted. They wore masks and thought the future could be better predicted on this night. In the year 1000, the church added All Souls Day on Nov 2 which was a bit more like Samhain. Much like St. Patrick, who took an element of nature with the clover to explain the Trinity to these same Druids, the same thing holds true here. The church essentially met people where they were and worked with that to provide a teachable moment.
And yet, there are some who jump to the conclusion that Halloween is merely a pagan feast and we should have nothing to do with it! And just when you thought it couldn’t get any weirder…check this out from the Huffington Post:
Oh, brother. I can’t believe that people buy this.
Now that said, while kids are chomping on their Halloween candy, it might also be a good idea to introduce children to the concept of Saints and to attend Mass as a family on All Saints Day. Perhaps even attending a Vigil Mass can kick off the Trick or Treating. I know churches I’ve been part of have held Halloween parties after a Vigil Mass for the children of the community.
And if you want to teach them more about saints and Halloween, check out this video that I created with my pal, Fr. Jim Martin, SJ.