Halloween, All Saints Day, and All Souls Day
In researching about All Saints Day, even though I am a cradle Catholic, I learned that it is very much connected historically with Halloween and All Souls Day.
Did you know that Halloween was first celebrated in Ireland, Britain, and Scotland to celebrate the end of harvest, share the family’s bounties with neighbors and friends, and as a pagan celebration? The Celtic celebration called Samhain was the division of the year between the lighter half (summer) and the darker half (winter). At Samhain, the division between this world and the otherworld was at its thinnest, allowing spirits to pass through. People wore costumes and masks to disguise themselves as evil spirits and thus avoid harm.
All Saints' Day was formally started by Pope Boniface IV, who consecrated the Pantheon at Rome to the Virgin Mary and all the Martyrs on May 13 in 609 AD. Boniface IV also established All Souls' Day, which follows All Saints. All Souls Day is dedicated to all who have died and are in Heaven, and all Saints known and unknown. It is a reminder of how we are called to live saintly lives to unite with Jesus in death.
All Souls Day is dedicated to all those who have died whether they are in heaven, purgatory, or hell. It is a remembrance of all souls and to ask for God’s mercy for them. A tradition in most churches during the month of November is to have The Book of the Dead displayed openly in the church for anyone to write in the names of their beloved.
In reaction to the Celtic pagan holiday, Pope Gregory III moved All Souls Day to November 1. I believe this was an attempt to distract Catholics away from a Celtic pagan holiday and encourage them to be more pious toward the Catholic Church and all saints. The battle between secular Halloween and the Catholic Holy Days of Obligation is ongoing, so how do we adequately celebrate All Saints Day and All Souls Day?
In the Tobin household, we were gifted the blessing of Margaret Rose on November 1, 2018. In addition to celebrating the Catholic Feast of All Saints, we celebrate Maggie’s birthday and she will be blessed to have extra reason to attend Mass on her birthday (I’m praying!) I found this blog written by a Catholic convert, mother of 4 with lots of ideas to help celebrate All Saints Day:
-Talk about the history of Halloween, All Saints Day, and All Souls Day
-Decorate the house with pictures of saints
-Throw an All Saints Day party and dress up as a favorite Saint (St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Parish in Carmel, IN does this with their preschoolers every day and it is adorable)
-Carve (or paint) a Christian-themed image in to your pumpkin instead of something scary, check out this post for some inspiration -Read through The Pumpkin Gospel here
-Create Saint-themed snacks/meals
And of course… read one (or two or three) saint’s story
There are lots of ideas to help you celebrate All Saints Day so do not overwhelm yourself by trying to be Super Parent Who Does Everything. Pick one new tradition to start this year with your family and grow over time. If you like to cook, pick one new recipe with a saint’s story associated with it. If you like to craft, pick one new project to do. If you’re just not sure how to incorporate a new tradition, just pick a few saints’ stories to read with your family.
We will be reading the stories of St. Elizabeth Ann Seton, St. Patrick, and St. Margaret. I don’t really like cooking and I don’t think I could carve (or paint) a clear image in/on a pumpkin so I might try to do one new crafting project or create one new decoration to hang up that will remind us each year of All Saints Day and All Souls Day.
I would love to hear what you want to do this year to grow in holiness as you celebrate All Souls Day. Please leave me a comment below!
Lovies and prayers,
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