Monday, October 31, 2011

On All Hallow's Eve

Our family doesn't really 'do' Halloween.  At least, not in the secular typical way that it is observed in our country.  This has less to do with the idea that kids dressing up in costumes and getting free candy from the neighbors is evil and more to do with the place in our hearts that the Solemnity of All Saints holds.  I love All Saints' Day and I've never been able to make a clear connection between the whole trick or treating thing and celebrating one of the most beautiful feasts in the liturgical year.  I actually wish they could do a pseudo-Halloween on another day of the year, because I think it would be just plain fun.  (Although my kids would still be put through the torture of a mother who picks through all that free candy and takes away the ones I deem unfit for consumption.  I am that cruel and I am okay with it.)

We are Catholic and when you have the amazing treasure of the Faith and the beautiful feast of All Saints' and so many ways to celebrate it with your family, the traditional Halloween for me just pales in comparison.  I can't see how a child who is raised to place tremendous significance on trick or treating (I mean, free candy!) will be just as impressed, and hopefully moreso, by celebrating All Saints'  unless a significant amount of energy is put forth by parents to make the celebration of All Saints' bigger and better than the night of trick or treating before.  How many of us have that kind of energy and time?  There are some amazing blog moms out there who do it and do it well...I just don't happen to be among them.  My memories of All Saints' Day are that is was the day after Halloween rather than the reverse which is how it was originally intended.  It was the day after the sugar-induced coma that you (ugh!) had to go to Mass.  That was about it. 

Since having children, we have put a good amount of energy into the observance of All Saints' Day.  For a little while, we toyed with the idea of trying to do both.  We took John Paul out in his little saint costume one year for trick or treating.  But as we soon saw, there was so much emphasis in costume and home decoration on the dark side of Halloween that we were quickly uncomfortable with it.  I'm that person who can't watch a violent or scary scene in a movie without those disturbing ugly images sticking in my head.  Did I really want my two year old seeing these same images that he couldn't understand just for the sake of a few bites of free candy and mom and dad reliving their childhood tradition?  We decided no.  People seem to have gotten deeper and deeper into the grim decorations and death stuff, at least in my observance, and I just don't want those things exposed to my child's imagination.  Some call it overprotective or paranoid...I call it prudent.

For the past few years our family has organized an All Saints' party on Halloween night in order to really get the kids excited for this blessed day.  We've always been joined by other families and have a ball.  It's been a great alternative to the trick or treating option.  I have little doubt that the children have way more fun at the party than I ever did trick or treating. There is food and candy and games and the children dress in saint (or saint-related) costumes.  I've never had any of my children complain that they couldn't be something else...this is just what they know and they love dressing up.  And since there are a good amount of saints who are able to carry a sword, we are all good.  I love that they choose a saint that they admire and want to emulate.  I am so grateful for the friendship and intercession of the saints and see the energy and time we put into honoring them is a token of gratitude from our family to our heavenly family that has done so much for us.

I'm not critical of people who decide to do the whole Halloween thing with their children and I hope that people who do things differently don't assume on the intentions of people who don't do the Halloween thing.  I just think in Catholic households it is so important to make sure that the observance of All Saints' takes precedence.  In our family that means Mass, saint costumes, the Litany of the Saints, great food, scavenger hunts and lots of fun games for the children.  And in all of it we remember the stories of those who have gone before us and have entered into the heavenly joy which we long to share. 

May all the saints, both known and unknown, pray for us!

Because I can't resist posting a pic of my favorite All Saints' costume...John Paul at age 3 so excited to be Pope John Paul!

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  1. Just came across this blog post and I agree with you so much. When I was on facebook I had posted about all the evils that go into halloween and I was met with many unhappy people who did not agree with me at all. Mother Angelica from EWTN has quite a lot to say about not celebrating halloween. Thank you so much for this awesome post. We too want our children to know about the beauty of the saints.

    I also love your son's costume. Did you make it yourself?

    1. I did. I can't sew but it's amazing what you can do with a pillowcase and some poster board! This one is still my favorite. Thanks for the comment!

  2. That John Paul II outfit is really just the cutest thing ever. I think it's brilliant that you started with a pillowcase because I can't tell at all. All I can see is the cuteness.

    I'm here from the link from your recent post not to start an argument at all but just to offer the perspective of a girl who really really wishes she could celebrate All Saints Day at an awesome party like yours but does not feel like she can because ALL of them are during trick or treating. And my husband insists on trick or treating. (He's a very, holy devoutly Catholic man who loves his faith and All Saints btw.) Why can these parties not be on All Saints Day? It would make me so very, very happy.

    1. Hi Anna, when our family started up our own All Saints' party, the only ones we knew of were makeshift and all did occur on November 1. We chose October 31 because at sundown it IS All Saints' Day. We weren't all that into trick or treating and wanted an alternative for our kids and the families who felt the same way...and since we were the ones paying and planning, that's what we did :) I know it made some families have to choose but since one of the reasons we were doing it was to have a fun alternative to trick or treating we were at peace with that. But if you want both, you should totally plan a party for November 1st!

    2. I would do that. But all the people we would invite to a November 1 All Saints Day party would have just gone to one the night before. So I feel like I would be a one upper. And I kind of would be, because when its gets down to the nitty, gritty of it, I don't think it makes sense to do it during trick or treating unless it's trick or treating you object to. I would love to just keep that sentiment to myself but I think by throwing my own party, when our home school community hosts a good one the night before, I would be making that pretty clear right? Anyway, I just wanted to add my thoughts because this time of year it's a pretty sad thing for me.

    3. Yeah, that is tough. I'm sorry it's such a sad thing for you! It's always hard navigating things with other families when people all have different needs and ideas and preferences....I know that well! In the end we just have to pray and make the decision we feel God wants for our own family...and sometimes that means making the hard choices. Any chance you could do trick or treating quick and make it to both? Or leave early from the party and go?

    4. It really is the exact 2 hours of trick-or-treating. So doing both would not be peaceful. It would be difficult to alternate events each year because the kids would have preferences ya' know? They love a good party but there really is nothing like trick or treating. Of course we all have these choices to make. I hope you have a wonderful time tonight.


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