Being Traditional Catholics, the Things and I are often asked if we celebrate Halloween. The short answer is, “Yes.” We just modify. First you must understand the history of All Hallows Eve, the original name of the “holiday”.
A common misconception is that the Catholic Church used this particular date, October 31, to suppress a pagan holiday of the Celtic Druids.
The Catholic Church has had a feast day for the martyrs who had died for the faith, since the 4th century (observed on May 13). The date was changed to November 1, in 844 by Pope Boniface IV, and named a Holy Day of Obligation in 1484. In 988, St. Odilo of France established November 2 to be a day of prayer for all the faithful departed, later to be known as All Souls Day. By placing the two holy days together, members of the Catholic Church are able to remember ALL the faithful departed.
The night before a Holy Day of Obligation is a vigil; therefore, October 31 was the Vigil of All Saints or All Hallow’s Eve (hallow means holy). You must remember that by the 9th century, when the Church chose November 1st, the Druids had already been gone for over 700 years, and that in and of itself had nothing to do with Christianity, but falls solely on the Roman Empire between AD 14 and AD 54. (There was a revival of “Druidism” in the 18th century, after Catholics had been observing All Saints Day for a millennia.)
So, no, the Catholics did not choose October 31st as a way to eliminate another religion’s special day and in no way does the Church itself condemn this holiday. The day just has a different significance for us. It is a special time to remember those of our faith who exemplify the lives we all strive to lead.
Back to the question of what do the Things do for “Halloween”. The Things simply refer to the fun of October 31st as Pumpkin Day. Who doesn’t love costumes and free candy?
Throughout October, we do what everyone else does in terms of fall festivities. The house gets decorated, pumpkins get carved, and our arts and crafts tend to have an autumn theme. The only difference is we avoid the scare and gore that is associated with Halloween. We do not put up scary decorations, nor do we watch “Halloween” movies. We avoid the monsters and witches, skeletons and ghosts. We do love the candy and pumpkins, hot drinks and hayrides.
Many Catholics partake in All Saints’ Day festivities as an alternative to Halloween parties. Our Catholic homeschool group in Florida has a party every October 31. It’s just like a Halloween Party, but with a Catholic twist. The day is filled with games, crafts, and goodies with the most clever “All Saints Day” themed names. There are costume contests for the best Saint outfits and prizes for the winners. The children have a ball! My Catholic All Saints Day board on Pinterest is full of cute ideas.
For Pumpkin Day, we do much of what everyone else does. I can always find fun activities on my Homeschool Halloween board.
I have never allowed scary or gory costumes. I didn’t see the point of it with small children, so they were cute things like skunks and speed bumps, kitties and unicorns. Then, when Noodle was a toddler, they began dressing as a group,.
It all began with Star Wars. Here you have R2D2, Darth Vader, Anakin, and an Ewok.
I decided this was the perfect opportunity for a lesson.
What if they chose books to be the characters from?
Each year one of the Things gets to pick the book (this now tends to happen the week after Pumpkin Day for the following year). The book is read and the characters are selected. I have never been one to use store bought costumes and the Things have loved designing their outfits and piecing them together.
Bug’s favorite was Mad Hatter’s Tea Party, from Alice in Wonderland. Beanie was the Door Mouse (she created a teacup hat!) and T-Bird was the March Hare. Bug was the Mad Hatter with Noodle as the Cheshire Cat. They were pretty proud when they won the Trunk N Treat that year.
The following year, Beanie decided on Peter Pan. She had come up with her own idea of what Tink would look like! Noodle was Tic Toc the dapper crocodile, complete with suspenders and pocket watch. Bug and T-Bird really got into character when they dueled as Hook and Pan in the front yard.
Last year was our first year without Bug, since she is away at college. The Wizard of Oz, with a steampunk twist, was decided upon. The Hubs and I were talked into dressing up, too, which turned out to be quite fun at the neighborhood party. Bonus, I got my own wind-up Flying monkey!
I can’t wait to see how this year’s costumes turn out. You will get to see them after Pumpkin Day!
What do you do for Halloween? Do you have any special activities you think other families would enjoy? Please leave a comment below so every one can have fun!
If you enjoyed this, check out my article on Finding Joy In Life’s Difficulties.
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