The whole argument about whether to celebrate Halloween or All Hallows Eve as I call it in our home along with the Feasts that came after- All Saints and All Souls is so ripe at this time of year.
"These three consecutive days — Halloween, All Saints Day and All Souls Day — illustrate the Communion of Saints. The Church Militant (those on earth, striving to get to heaven) pray for the Church Suffering (those souls in Purgatory) especially on All Souls Day and the month of November. We also rejoice and honor the Church Triumphant (the saints, canonized and uncanonized) in heaven. We also ask the Saints to intercede for us, and for the souls in Purgatory." Catholic Culture
So many people have their own opinion, myself included!
Every year I look up information or re read what I have found years ago in my folders and re assess if I think we should celebrate Halloween or just skip straight to the All Saints Day activities and on from there.
Why do I have this problem?
Well frankly I am sure that I really am not the only one who does not understand this day as well as I might.
And why is that?
Because we are not taught anything about it , probably because it is such a hot topic, but perhaps because others do not understand it either.
Now here in Australia I also believe in a Liturgical sense we do not know a lot about the traditions and celebrations because it has not been a large part of our culture.
My reasoning on why (and it could be flawed as well) is that as a penal colony from England the legitimate faith that came out was The Church of England (The British government had sanctioned this denomination as the sole Christian faith in the penal colony) and thus the Catholic Faith (mainly brought by Irish Catholics) with all it's traditions and Liturgy was illegal for some years.
Even after it was legalised it still carried a lot of stigma and restrictions for those practicing the Faith.
As a side note here is a link to the early colony in Australia and the Catholic Faith
Unlike Europe and The USA our cultural history is not nearly as vast or has the depth that often they have.
We do have some things passed down through the years but it often seems to be a definitely 'less' than we observe in other countries.
One thing I have noticed over the years though, with this year being the greatest, is the increase in the secular interest in Halloween while the Liturgical side has not seen a great increase in activity.
You can not go anywhere with out the ghoulish items to buy- dress ups, lollies and accessories.
These I am sure are being bought by people who probably have no idea what this day is actually about.
Now that is a whole theme in itself for me!
I strongly believe you should not celebrate or be involved in an activity or celebration of which you do know know anything about.
Maybe I don't always know all there is to know, but I certainly do research and come to a conclusion, for or again based on the knowledge I have.
Again this can be a learning curve for me or you BUT do make an informed decision.
Now I have read many articles about Halloween both for an against and frankly the reasons many Christians give for against Halloween is that it is a pagan festival 'done over' to make it Christian.
For my own future benefit and perhaps your own I am going to copy and past these to this post.
I have have had these printed out in my folder for at least 7 years.
I would encourage you to read it them all the way through as well as these couple of links I have read-
Should Catholics Celebrate Halloween
Halloween in the Old Days
Taking Back Our "Holy' Halloween I first read this one in 2005
And so you know how we have celebrated in the past (a very small example). I have always used this as our basis for celebrating every year in our home
So the two articles I am posting here are from Women for Faith and Family- Hallowe'en and from Fisheaters- Hallowe'en
Hallowe'en- a Christian Holiday
by Helen Hull HitchcockNot long ago, a friend and I were talking about children and holidays.
"What am I going to do about Hallowe'en?" she asked. "My kids love planning costumes, figuring out jokes and riddles for trick-or-treating, and then there's the big night when dozens of neighbor children come to our door for handouts.
But now I wonder if it's right for Christians to let our kids participate in pagan holidays like this at all." Her concern was real — and considering some of the adult Hallowe'en street celebrations in recent years, anyone would think this is a deeply pagan festivity.
(The same might be said of Mardi Gras celebrations!)
Add to that the fact that some people today actually claim to be witches. They have claimed "ownership" of Hallowe'en. They claim it is really an ancient pagan harvest festival. What about this? Can even innocent children's parties, trick-or-treating, dressing up like witches and ghosts on October 31 — as almost all Americans have done for generations — be participating in a pagan religious celebration?
Worse, is it a way of seducing our kids into the occult or devil worship? Are we compromising our religious beliefs and principles by letting our children, even if innocently, dabble in something that has its origins in evil? As Catholic families, what is our obligation to be consistent and true to our faith?
We think that Hallowe'en can be a real teaching moment. Despite what many people think — or what some modern-day "witches" may claim — Hallowe'en is and has always been a Christian holiday.
The word Hallowe'en itself is a contraction of "Hallowed evening".
Hallowed is an old English word for "holy" — as in "Hallowed be Thy Name", in the Lord's Prayer. Why is this evening "hallowed"? Because is is the eve of the Feast of All Saints — which used to be called All Hallows. Like Christmas Eve and New Year's Eve, and the Easter Vigil, the Church's celebration of her greatest feasts begins the evening before. (This follows the ancient Jewish practice of beginning the celebration of the Sabbath at sundown on Friday evening.)
We need to begin to re-Christianize or re-Catholicize Hallowe'en by repairing the broken link to its Christian meaning and significance. We need to reattach it to All Saints Day — and to All Souls Day, for it is only in relation to this that we can understand the original and true significance of the "hallowed eve".
The Communion of Saints
The Church's belief in the Communion of Saints is a key to unlocking the real mystery of Hallowe'en and to restoring its connection to the Church's celebration of All Saints and commemoration of All Souls. The Communion of Saints is really a definition of the Church: the unity in faith in Christ of all believers, past, present and future, in heaven and on the earth.
We are united as one body in Christ by holy things, especially the Eucharist, which both represents the Mystical Body of Christ and brings it about. (See the Catechism of the Catholic Church §960)
The Communion of Saints also means the communion in Christ of holy persons (saints) — "so that what each one does or suffers in and for Christ bears fruit for all". (CCC §961)
So, as Pope Paul VI put it, "We believe in the communion of all the faithful of Christ, those who are pilgrims on earth, the dead who are being purified, and the blessed in heaven, all together forming one Church". Furthermore, "we believe that in this communion, the merciful love of God and His saints is always [attentive] to our prayers". (CCC §962)
This is why Catholics honor the saints and "pray to the saints". (Actually, what we are doing is are asking them to pray for us -- to add their prayers to ours, just as we might ask a friend to pray for us. This is known as "intercessory prayer".)
It is because of our belief in the communion of all the faithful in Christ — in this world or in the next — that Catholics pray for the dead, for all those those have died and who are being purified (in Purgatory), that they will soon be granted eternal rest in heaven with God and reunited with all the saints.
A Reminder of 'Last Things'It's odd, isn't it, that Hallowe'en is such a big deal in our secularized society in America today?
In the pre-Modern world the threat of impending death from plagues and wars, as well as uncontrollable disease, loomed large in people's daily lives.
Death could not be ignored. Themes of the Last Judgment, Heaven, Hell were on people's minds, and the art of the period illustrates this.
Consciousness of personal sin, repentance, confession and penance and the Church's role in forgiveness of sins influenced the spiritual life and devotion of most Catholics.
The omnipresent reality of death, almost daily experience of it, and people's authentic religious beliefs about it, along with ignorance and superstition and folk legend, led to an attitude toward death that often seems primitive, bizarre and alien to us, now.
Paradoxically, though, in our contemporary world — justly called a "Culture of Death" — people often seem to be "in denial" about death.
As a culture, we avoid not only avoid coming to grips with personal sin and the consequences of evil, but we deny the spiritual value of the suffering and pain associated with dying, which are a part of the human condition. Even Christian funeral customs have changed markedly in the past few decades.
Although the Church strictly forbids eulogies at funeral Masses, there has been a recent tendency to "canonize" the person who dies — to assume that the person is instantly in heaven.
This emphasis on joy and eternal bliss, and the denial of the sorrow, loss and suffering death causes, may reflect the widespread denial sin and of hell, which is the eternal consequence of unrepented sins. (This mistaken idea of "instant heaven" among Catholics also deprives the "faithful departed" of needed prayers for purification.)
Could this denial of belief so common in our "culture of death" account for why Hallowe'en has become an occasion for flaunting our lack of belief in the power of evil, Satan and his power in this world?
Do we attempt to tame death and hell by erasing all trace of the original connection of the Eve of All Hallows to the solemn feast of All Saints and the commemoration of the dead on All Souls day?
We can see how such attitudes actually destroy belief in the Church as the Communion of Saints — past, present and future.
The rejection of Christianity also underlies the self-conscious invention of new "pagan" observances, such as "wicca" and some New Age pseudo-religions. Hallowe'en is distinctively Christian — and specifically a Catholic holiday — so we Catholics should restore the original meaning of this feast and season of the Church's year.
Celebration in the Domestic Church
As Catholics — and as parents — our job is to make clear the real meaning of the Hallowed Evening and its link to the Communion of Saints to our families and our communities. Celebrating Hallowe'en in the "domestic Church" can help restore the link with All Saints and All Souls.
Hallowe'en, like Valentine's Day, and even Christmas, is a big commercial "holiday". But if the original religious significance of these celebrations is restored, this could have a beneficial effect on the religious formation of youngsters.
Hallowe'en is chiefly celebrated in America, and principally as a children's festival. As with many holidays (holy days), pagan elements have been part of the tradition most of us associate with Hallowe'en.
In a culture that has lost its Christian moorings, there is a serious risk that the "paganizing" of holy days will lead to further loss of belief.
Consciously anti-Christian Hallowe'en celebrations in recent years have led many Christian families to believe that participation in any Hallowe'en festivity — even kids trick-or-treating and dressing up in costumes — should be avoided. > But our task, as laity — as Catholics — is to evangelize our culture. In this case, we might say "re-evangelize", because, as we have seen, Hallowe'en is really a completely Christian festival.
There is something nostalgic and cheerful about our memories of celebrating Hallowe'en — even if our celebration was completely disconnected from the real holy day that inspired it.
The same could be said of Mardi Gras, which is now detached from the authentic observence of Lent; and even jolly Santa Claus, who bears no resemblance to the Middle-Eastern bishop, Saint Nicholas, and adds nothing to the real meaning of Christmas.
Saint Valentine's Day and Saint Patrick's Day celebrations have also become almost entirely secular and commercialized.
Do we want to abolish all these secular holiday customs? No, we don't. They are truly a part of our culture. But as Catholics, we should see in these celebrations an opportunity "inculturate" the vestiges of truth in the customs, and to integrate these customs with some fresh ways to instill the real meaning of the holiday.
Understanding our customs and traditions
Trick-or-Treating on Hallowe'en — like Santa Claus and his "eight tiny reindeer", is fun — and an authentic part of our own culture.
The naughty and destructive tricks once associated with Hallowe'en seem mostly to have disappeared. What about children dressing as devils and witches and ghosts?
We think dressing children to look like devils or demons is not a good idea. Is it harmful? Probably not. But at the very least it tends to reduce evil to something cute or fun, and this is certainly off-base.
Talking with kids about choosing Hallowe'en costumes can give Christian parents an opportunity to make it clear that there is a real personal Devil, and he is truly evil — something people nowadays are inclined to forget.
Until very recently, witches seemed entirely fanciful — like fairies or leprechauns. Witches were comically wicked, like the Wicked Witch of the West in The Wizard of Oz, or Samantha on the old TV series Bewitched.
Now, however, some very misguided people actually claim to be witches, and they practice fabricated religions based on magic and the occult.
Some even claim to worship Satan. This is not funny.
It is seriously wrong and it changes the picture considerably.
Again, this can be a teaching moment when we talk with our children about this. Jack-o'-lanterns are different.
Although the big orange pumpkins with glowing scary faces are uniquely American, this is our remake of an old Irish custom, based on a folk tale about a man who was so miserly that, after he died, his ghost had to walk about at night with a lantern made from a hollowed-out turnip, in order to make amends for his sins by warning the living to repent. As the story goes, people later began to carve the miser's ghostly features in the turnips as a reminder of his message.
(This tale of the repentant miser's ghost reminds me a bit of Scrooge's ghostly partner, Jacob Marley, in Dickens's A Christmas Carol, who had to drag heavy chains forged in life by his sins. Remember? Marley's ghost visited Scrooge in order to scare him into changing his sinful ways before it was too late.) But the story of the miserly Irishman and his penance was lost over time, and Jack-o'-lanterns grin fiercely from our American pumpkins, not turnips. This custom has become a memorable part of American childhood.
Picking out the pumpkins can be an excuse for arranging a nice family outing in the fall. And carving them is an activity that can involve almost all members of the family. While we're helping small children carve the pumpkin, we might tell them the Jack-o'-lantern legend — and we can even relate it to authentic Catholic teaching about Purgatory and the need for every soul's purification from the effects of sin before entering Heaven.
Symbolism of Hallowe'en colors Did you ever wonder why the traditional colors of Hallowe'en are black and orange? Orange is the color the color of ripe pumpkins, falling leaves and glowing sunsets and candlelight.
The color represents harvest and autumn, the pleasant warmth of bonfires and blazing hearths, and the harvest moon of the year's waning days. As days are growing shorter and colder, and the creatures of the earth prepare for winter, we, too, are reminded of the "last things" of life.
But perhaps the main reason that this color came to be associated with with death and mourning – thus to Hallowe’en and All Soul’s – is related to the dusky yellowish-orange color of the unbleached beeswax candles used at Requiem Masses (also during Holy Week, especially on Good Friday).
These dark “mourning” candles contrast sharply with the much whiter candles made of refined and purified beeswax that are used at Easter and other feasts.
At funeral Masses, four to six tall lighted unbleached wax candles were always placed around the catafalque holding the casket covered by a black pall. Black is the traditional color of mourning in the West. Black signifies sins, evil (as in "black-hearted"), the occult or hidden (as in "black magic").
Many people may think this nearly universal association of darkness with evil comes only from the irrational childish fear of the dark, of the unseen. But there is more to it than that. Jesus is the Sun of Righteousness; the Light of the World. Black — the absence of light — is the opposite of this Light of Christ.
For this Light penetrates and overcomes spiritual darkness, ignorance, sin. In the words of the prophet Isaiah, "The people that walked in darkness have seen a great Light.
And they that walked in the valley of the shadow of death, upon them hath a light shined.” (Isaiah 9:2)
Throughout most of Christian history, black was always the liturgical color used for funerals, for requiem Masses, Mass on All Souls and on Good Friday – along with the dark yellow wax “mourning” candles. Although since the Second Vatican Council, priests now often wear white vestments at funeral Masses, to symbolize the Resurrection, black vestments are still proper for funerals and for All Souls Masses. (Violet is also approved for funerals, and red for Good Friday.)
Suggestions for Family Celebrations- Costumes, Parties, Games
Stickers of autumn leaves or pumpkins or scarecrows also fit the autumn/harvest season.
And remember -- this is the Vigil of a solemn feast of the Church. So the inside of your party invitation could say something like "To celebrate the Vigil of All Saints Day, we invite you to join us for a Hallowe'en party on ------", etc.
Be our protection against the wickedness and snares of the Devil.
May God rebuke him, we humbly pray;
And do thou, O prince of the heavenly host,
by the power of God, thrust into hell Satan
and all the other evil spirits who prowl about the world
seeking the ruin of souls. Amen.
Follow this prayer with the traditional invocation of the Sacred Heart of Jesus:
31 October and 1 and 2 November are called, colloquially (not officially), "Hallowtide" or the "Days of the Dead" because on these days we pray for or remember those who've left this world. The days of the dead center around All Saints' Day (also known as All Hallows') on November 1, when we celebrate all the Saints in Heaven.
On the day after All Hallows', we remember the saved souls who are in Purgatory being cleansed of the temporal effects of their sins before they can enter Heaven. The day that comes before All Hallows', though, is one on which we unofficially remember the damned and the reality of Hell. The schema, then, for the Days of the Dead looks like this:
31 October: Hallowe'en: unofficially recalls the souls of the damned. Practices center around the reality of Hell and how to avoid it.
1 November: All Saints': set aside to officially honor the Church Triumphant. Practices center around recalling our great Saints, including those whose names are unknown to us and, so, are not canonized
2 November: All Souls': set aside officially to pray for the Church Suffering (the souls in Purgatory). Practices center around praying for the souls in Purgatory, especially our loved ones
The earliest form of All Saints' (or "All Hallows'") was first celebrated in the 300s, but originally took place on 13 May, as it still does in some Eastern Churches.
The Feast first commemorated only the martyrs, but came to include all of the Saints by 741. It was transferred to 1 November in 844 when Pope Gregory III consecrated a chapel in St. Peter's Basilica to All Saints (so much for the theory that the day was fixed on 1 November because of a bunch of Irish pagans had harvest festivals at that time).
All Souls' has its origins in A.D. 1048 when the Bishop of Cluny decreed that the Benedictines of Cluny pray for the souls in Purgatory on this day. The practice spread until Pope Sylvester II recommended it for the entire Latin Church.
The Vigil of, or evening before, All Hallows' ("Hallows' Eve," or "Hallowe'en") came, in Irish popular piety, to be a day of remembering the dead who are neither in Purgatory or Heaven, but are damned, and these customs spread to many parts of the world.
Thus we have the popular focus of Hallowe'en as the reality of Hell, hence its scary character and focus on evil and how to avoid it, the sad fate of the souls of the damned, etc.
How, or even whether, to celebrate Hallowe'en is a controversial topic in traditional circles. One hears too often that "Hallowe'en is a pagan holiday" -- an impossibility because "Hallowe'en," as said, means "All Hallows' Evening" which is as Catholic a holiday as one can get.
Some say that the holiday actually stems from Samhain, a pagan Celtic celebration, or is Satanic, but this isn't true, either, any more than Christmas "stems from" the Druids' Yule, though popular customs that predated the Church may be involved in our celebrations (it is rather amusing that October 31 is also "Reformation Day" in Protestant circles -- the day to recall Luther's having nailed his 95 Theses to Wittenberg's cathedral door -- but Protestants who reject "Hallowe'en" because pagans used to do things on October 31 don't object to commemorating that event on this day).
Some traditional Catholics, objecting to the definite secularization of the holiday and to the myth that the entire thing is "pagan" to begin with, refuse to celebrate it in any way at all, etc.
Other traditional Catholics celebrate it without qualm, though keeping it Catholic and staying far away from some of the ugliness that surrounds the day in the secular world.
However one decides to spend the day, it is hoped that the facts are kept straight, and that Catholics refrain from judging other Catholics who decide to celebrate differently.
For those who do want to celebrate Hallowe'en, customs of this day are a mixture of Catholic popular devotions, and French, Irish, and English customs all mixed together.
From the French we get the custom of dressing up, which originated during the time of the Black Death when artistic renderings of the dead known as the "Danse Macabre," were popular.
These "Dances of Death" were also acted out by people who dressed as the dead. Later, these practices were moved to Hallowe'en when the Irish and French began to intermarry in America.
From the Irish come the carved Jack-o-lanterns, which were originally carved turnips.
The legend surrounding the Jack-o-Lantern is this: There once was an old drunken trickster named Jack, a man known so much for his miserly ways that he was known as "Stingy Jack," He loved making mischief on everyone -- even his own family, even the Devil himself!
One day, he tricked Satan into climbing up an apple tree -- but then carved Crosses on the trunk so the Devil couldn't get back down. He bargained with the Evil One, saying he would remove the Crosses only if the Devil would promise not to take his soul to Hell; to this, the Devil agreed.
After Jack died, after many years filled with vice, he went up to the Pearly Gates -- but was told by St. Peter that he was too miserable a creature to see the Face of Almighty God.
But when he went to the Gates of Hell, he was reminded that he couldn't enter there, either! So, he was doomed to spend his eternity roaming the earth.
The only good thing that happened to him was that the Devil threw him an ember from the burning pits to light his way, an ember he carried inside a hollowed-out, carved turnip.
And when you carve up your pumpkin, keep the seeds to roast!
Here's a recipe: Roasted Pumpkin Seeds
2 cups pumpkin seeds (approx.)
2 TSP melted butter or oil (approx.)
Salt to taste
Optional: garlic powder; cayenne pepper; seasoned salt; Worcestershire Sauce; Cajun seasoning; or Hot Spice Mix (1/2 tsp. Tabasco sauce, 1 tsp. cayenne pepper, 1/2 tsp. cumin, 2 tsp. chili powder)
Preheat oven to 300° F. Toss pumpkin seeds in a bowl with the melted butter or oil and any optional ingredients of your choice. Spread pumpkin seeds in a single layer on baking sheet. Bake for about 45 minutes, stirring occasionally, until golden brown and crispy. Store airtight.
Option: If you roast them without any of the above optional flavorings, you can now flavor them Spicy-Sweet by doing this: Heat a TBSP of peanut oil in a skillet, add 2 TBSP sugar, and the seeds.
Cook the pumpkin seeds over medium high heat for about 1 minute or until the sugar melts and starts to caramelize.
Place pumpkin seeds in a large bowl and sprinkle with this mixture: 3 TBSP sugar, 1/4 tsp. salt, 1/4 tsp. cinnamon, 1/4 tsp. ginger, and a pinch of ground cayenne pepper.
From the English Catholics we get begging from door to door, the earlier and more pure form of "trick-or-treating." Children would go about begging their neighbors for a "Soul Cake," for which they would say a prayer for those neighbors' dead. Instead of knocking on a door and saying "Trick-or-treat" (or the ugly "Trick-or-treat, smell my feet, give me something good to eat"), children would say either:
A Soul Cake, a Soul Cake, have mercy on all Christian souls for a soul cake! or Soul, soul, an apple or two, If you haven't an apple, a pear will do, One for Peter, two for Paul, Three for the Man Who made us all.
While Soul Cakes were originally a type of shortbread, it is said that a clever medieval cook wanted to make Soul Cakes designed to remind people of eternity, so she cut a hole in the middle of round cakes before frying them, thereby inventing donuts!
Other customary foods for All Hallows' Eve include cider, nuts, popcorn, and apples -- best eaten around a bonfire or fireplace!
Another Hallowe'en custom is the old Celtic "bobbing for apples."
To do this, fill a large tub two thirds full with water and float apples in it. Children take turns trying to pick up one of the floating apples using only their mouths (hands are not allowed and must be held or tied behind the back!) -- very tricky to do!
The first to do so wins a prize (some say he will be the first one to marry someday).
You can make the game more fun by carving an initial into the bottom of each apple, letting that initial indicate the name of the person each apple-bobber will marry, and/or using different colored apples with different assigned meanings or prizes.
(You can play a dry version of this game by tying the stems of the apples to strings and suspending them. If you do this, carve any initials at the tops of the apples.
Of course, all of this sort of thing is a parlor game and should never be taken seriously or cross the line into divination!). ...and tell scary stories! If you want the perfect poems to relate to your children on this day,
see Little Orphant Annie, The Raven, The Stolen Child, and the Wreck of the Hesperus.
After teaching your children about the frightening realities of Hell and the fate of the damned, reassure them by telling them that the Evil One has already been conquered!
Satan has no real power over those who are in Christ, and mocking him and his minions is a way of demonstrating this; teach your children how to call on the power of Christ and His Church to protect themselves from their snares.
Warn them that magic (the art of performing actions beyond the power of man with the aid of powers other than the Divine) is real, that there is no such thing as "white magic," that playing with the occult -- whether by divination, necromancy, the casting of spells, playing with Ouija boards, etc. -- is an invitation to demons to respond, and that it is from demons that magic gets any power it has.
Remember St. Michael to them, teach them about the power of sacramentals and prayers that ward off evil when piously used (the Sign of the Cross, Holy Water, blessed salt, the Crucifix, the St. Benedict Medal, St. Anthony's Brief, etc.), teach them to call on the Holy Name of Jesus when they are afraid, etc.
Remember! If you made apple dolls on Michaelmas, now is the perfect day to unveil them.
They tend to look a little spooky!
And please pray to all the Saints that they might intercede and bring pagans and witches to Christ so they might know the peace that comes from knowing that God loves them so much that He allowed Himself to take on a human nature, to suffer, and to die for them...
The Vigil used to be a day of fasting in the Church so some Catholics -- especially those attached to the disciplines in place related to earlier Missals than the 1962 -- treat the day as penitential and avoid any feasting. But All Hallows' Eve was not considered a day of fasting according to the laws in place when the 1962 Missal was published, and it is this Missal that is used by most traditional Catholic priests and laity.
Blessings to you and your homes,