Amongst Christians there is a debate on whether it is fine or demonic to participate in Halloween. I’ve watched a few videos of Christians explaining to me how Halloween – costumes, pumpkins, trick or treating, even the date, all have pagan and demonic roots and should be avoided by true Christians. Also, these videos will tie the Catholic feast days of All Saints’ Day and All Souls Day to the celebration of Halloween. Some will thoughtfully ask me how it is that costumes and candy could possibly be holy or bring glory to God or his defeat over death, and question why Catholics choose to celebrate All Saints’ Day this way.
I’d like to make a critical distinction which is muddying these preachers’ arguments against “celebrating” “Halloween”/”All Hallows’ Eve”/”All Saints’ Day”. Let me be clear. Catholics celebrate All Saints’ Day by attending Holy Mass on these days, during which ONLY Christ is worshiped and glorified. Trick or treating (or even All Saints’ parties) is not the primary vehicle by which Catholics claim to be worshiping God. Celebrating outside of the Mass (or ceremony) is a common practice – take for instance a wedding ceremony versus the wedding reception. The dancing, food and decorations at a reception are not the critical part of a wedding, those things are merely the celebration of a wedding has already occurred. Different people and different cultures will celebrate differently. Some wedding festivities you might enjoy, like a tasteful reception, and some you may abhor like a raunchy bachelorette party. The style of a wedding reception or pre-party is up to the celebrant, but isn’t a critical component to the validity of the ceremony itself, and in fact doesn’t even need to happen. Likewise, When a Catholic celebrates All Saints’ Day, he/she isn’t doing so solely by the Halloween party he/she may or may not be having. A Catholic only validly celebrates this feast day by kneeling in prayer to Jesus during Holy Mass – if he/she chooses to party before or after then so be it (hopefully it is tasteful ;)).
In America, we have a tradition of wearing costumes and trick or treating on Halloween – October 31st. Yes, these traditions came about somehow and landed on this day by some historical reason. Some of these things may have been inspired in the past as directly celebrating these Catholic feast days, some traditions may not have – while the authors of the articles I read seem sure of themselves, I find that they often contradict one another and thus I can’t say for certain what came from where. But generally, Americans do these things for neighborly fun. I see these things as fun American traditions, like fireworks and cook-outs on the 4th of July – perhaps another pagan celebration, depending on how you look at it. However, Halloween is the one day a year droves of your neighbors come knocking on your door. That such a time even exists in our isolated automotive culture is amazing in itself, and I personally thank God for it. As for the knock at the door, maybe you’ll open it with a warm, friendly smile, pass out some goodies and wish your neighbors a good, safe time along their way. Or maybe you’ll sit in the dark and pretend to not be home. Either way is fine. I’ll be opening the door and sharing some neighborly warmth. And I’ll also be going to Holy Mass to properly and most specifically celebrate All Saint’s Day. Whatever your traditions, I wish you a Happy All Saint’s Day!
If you are looking for some counter explanations to the non-Catholic blog posts and videos that are circling about, try this one from uCatholic: The Catholic Origins of Halloween, or this one from Word on Fire: It’s Time for Catholics to Embrace Halloween.
Whether it is trick or treating, an All Saints’ Party, or a quiet day of prayer, please share with us your family’s traditions for this feast of All Saints!