Saturday, October 31, 2009

All Hallows Eve: The Debate and A Great Article

The Halloween debate certainly can get nasty! Until I became a mom I'm not sure I really realized how passionate mom's were about certain issues (I mean other than abortion and the other hot-button topics that much of the country gets riled up over). There's the decision over whether or not to breastfeed and there's the decision over whether or not to nurse. Oh, and then there's the decision over whether or not to let your little ones dress up for Halloween.

I read a book a while back and I liked the author's description of what her family did for Halloween. They dress up as Saint's or Biblical Characters. When I said that that was the plan we were sticking with on one of the forums I was told by one person that the idea was "ridiculous" because it was contrary to the very basis of Halloween (or something like that). I asked him (or her to be fair) to elaborate but they decided not to. Maybe because they had no idea what they were actually talking about.

Thankfully we have people like Deacon Keith Fournier who do know what they're talking about. I was thrilled to see the title of this article and I have cut and pasted a few of my favorite parts, but I would strongly recommend heading over to Catholic Online and reading the whole thing yourself!
"A report out of Rome bore this headline “Vatican condemns Halloween as anti-Christian.” However, a further read of the original source upon which the Telegraph reporter based his article in L’Observatore Romano, revealed a very different headline. The article in the Vatican paper was entitled 'The Dangerous Messages of Halloween.' The priest interviewed for the story warned that the celebration has sometimes been hijacked by occultism and encouraged parents to 'to be aware of this and try to direct the meaning of the feast towards wholesomeness and beauty rather than terror, fear and death.' Good, sound advice for all of us.

“Halloween” comes from “All Hallows Eve”, the Christian Vigil of the celebration of the Christian Feast of “All Saints”. I contend that what it is becoming simply reflects the waning influence of the Christian vision in the West and presents an opportunity for Catholic Christians to do what we have always done, live like missionaries in our own culture. The Church has always recognized that cultural practices can be “mixed”, containing those aspects which elevate the human person and those which do not. However, members of the Church are invited to transform such cultural practices from within through our proper participation. That has been the missionary model of the Church for two millennia."


"The Feast of All saints is our family Feast day when we honor all those who have died, marked with the sign of faith, and gone on before us to be with the Lord. They now beckon all of us into the fullness of the communion of love. In a special way we commemorate all who have been honored by “canonization”, the process wherein the Church has acknowledged their extraordinary lives of holiness and holds them up as models and intercessors. This wonderful celebration is grounded in the most ancient of Church teaching concerning the Communion of Saints. The Church proclaims that death does not separate us because it was defeated by Jesus Christ. (Romans 8:28) We affirm and celebrate our eternal communion in Him through the Holy Spirit - and with one another. We honor all of our brothers and sisters, known and unknown, who are a part of that great cloud of witnesses to which the author of the Letter to the Hebrews attests. (Heb. 12:1)."

"The vigil of the Feast (the eve) has come, in the English speaking world, to be known as “All Hallows Eve” or Halloween. While some consider Halloween to be “pagan” in origin it is actually the eve of the great Christian Feast of All Saints. Many of the customs which surround it reflect the Christian confidence in our triumph over death in Christ and our bold rejection of the claim that evil has any more power over us. As we approach Halloween this year, let us heed the sound advice of the priest interviewed in the Vatican paper and “…try to direct the meaning of the feast towards wholesomeness and beauty rather than terror, fear and death”."


"I cherish that question because it calls me to do all I can to help to form him in the Christian way of life. As for the growing pagan practices around us, I am not afraid. I will do all that I can to ensure that he will be a part of a new generation of those who, bearing the name Catholic Christian, do what Christians always do, bring about the conversion of Nations and cultures. That is, after all, what it means to be a missionary Church. That is why I use the term “Pre-Christian” to describe the state of the West, not “Post Christian”. This is a new missionary age and there is a lot of work to be done.Let's embrace what is good - and transform what is not - in the celebration of Halloween and use it as an invitation to Christian mission."
Read Full Article Here.

The fact that "Halloween" is the All Saint's Day Vigil was pretty much what I thought beforehand, so I guess I did let some of the less pleasant commentators on the forums confuse me a bit. I'm glad I read Deacon Fournier's article. It'll make me feel better about taking our little angel into town for the kid's fair tomorrow afternoon!


  1. Thought that you might be interested.

    Halloween: October 31
    All Saints Day: November 1
    All Soul's Day: November 2
    Day of the Dead: November 1-2

    All Saint's Day celebrates those who have died and are already with God. All Soul's Day celebrates those who have died but need prayer. My church is having a special Mass on All Soul's Day. Day of the Dead (or Dia de los muertos) is a Latin American holiday that celebrates all persons who have died. Because we have a high populace from Mexico, our city holds a parade.

    I used to work at a Catholic school and a lot of people thought Halloween was from the devil. Many of the teachers (myself included) had to explain what the holiday was about every year.

  2. Hi Deltaflute-

    Thanks for the info!

    Growing up I remember two particular Sunday school teachers (we were Southern Baptist) lecturing a classroom of seven and eight year olds (I was among them) about the evil of believing in Santa Claus, the Tooth Fairie or the Easter Bunny. They had strong views about Halloween too that if memory serves, sent them to the basement with the lights off to avoid the evil of the Holiday. I didn't realize until reading the article that Halloween was vigil of All Saint's Day, thus All Hallow's Eve but it makes sense!


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