As longtime readers know, I'm an unabashed advocate of celebrating the vigil of All Saints Day, more commonly known as Halloween. As I've discussed in "Should Catholics Celebrate Halloween?" claims that it is a pagan holiday are overblown; in fact, the first attempt to tie Halloween to a Celtic harvest festival came over a thousand years after All Saints Day was first celebrated. Indeed, by the time that Christians first celebrated All Hallows' Eve, the Celts had been Christians for several centuries.
Yes, our Halloween traditions are largely derived from Celtic peasant customs, but peasant is not a synonym for pagan. Halloween, with its ghosts and demons and even vampires and werewolves, reminds us as Christians that there is an entire unseen world around us, in which evil does battle with the good.
As Catholics, we should always make sure that our celebration of Halloween is tied to the feast of All Saints Day, and those of us who are parents need to make that connection clear to our children. The best way, of course, is to attend Mass on All Saints Day as a family, especially since All Saints Day is a Holy Day of Obligation.
But we can also emphasize that connection on Halloween itself, by praying as a family the Prayer to Saint Michael the Archangel before the children go out trick or treating. Perhaps no other prayer more forcefully calls to mind the unseen battle that takes place all around us.
By praying this prayer before trick or treating, we help our children to understand that we, as Christians, must all join the army of angels in the battle against those evil spirits "who wander through the world seeking the ruin of souls."
What better lesson to learn, and what better day than Halloween to learn it?
(Saint Michael the Archangel, a bronze statue executed by Flemish sculptor Peter Anton von Verschaffelt in 1753, stands atop the Castel Sant'Angelo in Rome, Italy. Photo © Scott P. Richert)
More on Halloween:
- Should Catholics Celebrate Halloween?
- Halloween: A Catholic View
- Reader Question: Is Halloween Anti-Christian?
- Halloween, Jack Chick, and Anti-Catholicism
- Children in Costumes for Halloween 2007
- Readers Respond: How Do You Celebrate Halloween?
- When Is Halloween 2012?