We’re getting seasonal today and tackling Halloween… If you’re like us, you probably remember the annual struggle to narrow down your costume ideas to a single CHOICE and then the excitement of running door to door to get candy (FOR FREE) from strangers.
Halloween was quite different as we went on college and post-graduation life. Halloween seemed like nothing more than an invitation to dress immodestly and drink to excess, so no thank you, Halloween, we’ll just move on to All Soul’s Day.
Through Katie’s husband’s obsession with the history of All. The. Things, however, we’ve learned that Halloween does have some deep roots in Catholicism, even if the ‘seeds’ had been pagan. As Catholics, when we evangelize, there should always an effort to respect the traditions and culture of the people we are preaching to. We should not seek to eradicate all former ways of life, but seek to find ways to ‘baptize’ some traditions and tie them into our beautiful Liturgical cycle.
For example…. according to pious tradition, St. Boniface was working hard to spread the Good News to the people of Germany, but there was the issue of this huge tree they worshiped. St. Boniface knew a tree doesn’t have any supernatural power; only the Creator of that tree did. And so to drive home the point, he chopped it down. Yet, he allowed the people to continue on with the tradition of bringing smaller trees into their home in the middle of winter and those trees became a reminder of The Tree of our Salvation, the Cross. Christmas trees are a ‘baptized tradition’ from pagans.
Another example of this is the harvest festival of Samhain (Gaelic word pronounced ‘sewing’). On October 31st, the Gaelic people would have a celebration to mark the changing of the seasons and the beginning of the ‘darker half’ of the year. These celebrations involved bonfires, costumes, prayers (to false gods), and feasting. When saints like Patrick and Columba came to the island, they took the fact that Samhain occurred on the eve of All Saints’ Day and gradually turned Samhain into All Hallow’s Eve. Catholics like to party, so the costumes and feasting could remain, but the praying to false gods was left behind. So, Halloween is actually the first day of the triduum our Church celebrates each fall.
Beautifully, these three days connect the three parts of our Church: Militant, Triumphant, and Suffering. In some of the earlier celebrations of “All Hallow’s Eve” children would dress up as angels and demons and ‘battle’ each other, reminding us of our daily battle to choose good over evil. We are the Church Militant. On All Saints’ Day, we remember those who have been victorious in this earthly life, those who now enjoy the heavenly banquet, and can intercede for us: the Church Triumphant. And finally, on the last day of the triduum, we pray for the Church Suffering, those in purgatory who require our prayers to get to Heaven.
We hope you enjoy today’s episode as much as we enjoyed recording!
Your sisters in the small things,
Nancy and Katie