Every year at Halloween, the blog posts and articles start popping up about Halloween and whether or not it is appropriate for Christians to celebrate this holiday. I’ve read many on both sides of the argument and I have just concluded that I really don’t find any of the anti-Halloween arguments compelling.
Before I had Will, I was an elementary school teacher. My last teaching job before Will was born, I taught in a private, (non-Catholic) Christian school. Halloween was BIG deal there. The lower school kids dressed up and had a big parade that the middle and upper school kids came to. One or two parents would usually flip out and demand to know why a Christian school was celebrating Halloween. I wanted to point out that Halloween is not a pagan holiday. It is actually related to the celebration of All Saints and All Souls Day. (The ubiquitous “Fall Festival” offered as a Halloween substitute at many churches and schools on the other hand, is quite pagan in origin.) However, being a non-Catholic school, the link between Halloween and All Saints & All Souls was missing.
For me, there is also the issue of not alienating family. My husband’s family is not Catholic. My family is not practicing. There are enough things that are actual, real issues that present themselves and can cause tension for us with our families; I don’t need to invent issues around things like Halloween and Santa Claus. Yes, it is a fact of life that if you are serious about living your faith you are going to be different than others and stick out in some ways. But I think making an issue out of everything can cause your children to resent you when they’re always different than everyone else. It’s important to save your, “we don’t do that in our family” capital for the things that really matter, in my opinion.
But celebrating Halloween doesn’t mean you can’t also do All Saints Day (and All Should Day). Before my last teaching job, I taught in Catholic school, where we had an All Saints Day parade which I absolutely loved. I loved seeing my students dressed up at their favorite saint, eager to recount the story of that saint’s life.
Tens years ago (eek!) I lived with a group of girlfriends in a big old Victorian house and we hosted an annual All Saints Day party with close to 100 guests, all adults dressed as a saint. Particular favorites were St. Ignatius with stuffed lions sewn to his shirt, St. Lawrence with grill marks painted on his torso, and St. Anthony with an assortment of keys and socks stuck to his habit. (I wish I could find a picture of this now but alas, there are none to be found.)
I didn’t think of it until the last minute this year, but I would love to begin a tradition of a children’s All Saints Day party for Will and the children of friends. Since this thought just occurred to me a week before Halloween (and Will’s first birthday is today and his party is Saturday) this year was just…no. Since All Saints Day was not a Holy Day of Obligation this year, and fell on a Saturday, the Mass times options were limited and I couldn’t get there with Will as they were all in the middle of his morning nap. I assure you, the blue hair daily Massers at Saturday morning Mass would not have appreciated his nap-missing attitude. I tried to pray the Litany of the Saints with him. In an effort to make it child friendly, I printed out some pictures of the saints to show him, but he mostly just tore them up and ate them. Oh well.
Our All Souls Day observance was a little more successful. We went to historic Oakland Cemetery and walked around and prayed the rosary (Fine! It was only one decade, but little man does not do prayerful contemplation.) for the repose of the souls of people in our family who have died.
But the most important reason why I believe you should celebrate Halloween is that babies in costumes are my favorite thing on the whole internet. Obviously.