Halloween: A Very Catholic Holiday

There are some things you should know about me. For one thing, I am a cradle Catholic, which means that I was born into a Catholic family, baptized as a baby, and was raised with the teachings of the faith. I went to Catholic school from Kindergarten all the way to 7th grade and later on went to a Catholic university.

Throughout all that time, I was raised to love Halloween. Never have I ever heard any of my teachers or professors or priests call the holiday Satanic. So it surprises me to learn that some Protestant denominations, and even uber-conservative Catholics denounce the holiday.

Yes, the holiday of Halloween has become secularized. A lot of Catholic holidays have become secularized, though. Just look at the seasonal aisle of the grocery store. You’re bound to find more snowmen, pumpkins, and bunnies as opposed to manger sets, candles, and crucifixes. Yes, people tend to dress provocatively or ramp up the gore. Have you not seen the latest shows? There is nothing new under the sun. People just tend to take deviancy up to 11 on Halloween, but it doesn’t take away from the fact that it’s still a Catholic holiday.

Halloween, when you break down the word, translates to All Hallow’s Eve, the vigil of All Saints Day. The historical origins of this holiday can be traced back to the days of Pope Gregory III. It’s not connected to the pagan feast of Samhain despite what secularists may say. Most of the Halloween traditions we have today can actually be traced back to Celtic traditions.

But for this blog post, I’m gonna suggest some ideas on what kids, teens, and young adults can do to celebrate the holiday.

Kids (babies-12)

Because the holiday falls on the eve of All Saints Day, Halloween is the perfect opportunity to teach kids about the saints. Characters from fairy tales, children’s literature and comic books are also great costume ideas because these characters can teach kids good things like teamwork and courage.

“But what if my kid wants to dress up as the bad guy?” you ask.

Then let them. Kids need to distinguish good from evil in some way and playing the role of the villain can help them see why the bad guys lose in the end. Villains are fun characters to play, but most actors who get typecast as villains know what they’re getting into. Just make sure it’s the same for your kid.

Activities for Halloween aside from the obvious trick-or-treating can include watching the Peanuts classic It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown and The Nightmare Before Christmas. Other awesome Halloween/spooky movies are listed here.

Tweens/Teens (12-18)

Think your child is ready for some serious stuff or thinks that they’re too old for trick-or-treating? Create a haunted house or throw a costume party.

If they’re old enough to be in high school, I highly recommend they watch movies such as Carrie or Scream. (The original Carrie, please!) Avoid The Craft because it’s kind of cheesy. TV shows such as Supernatural, Charmed, or Buffy the Vampire Slayer are also recommended, depending on how old the tween/teen is. If you want a TV show that’s scary, but also family-friendly, there are plenty of episodes of Doctor Who for that.

Young Adults (18-25)

They are now old enough to check out the R-rated horror movies. I personally like the original Halloween by John Carpenter. This is a good time to introduce classic horror movies such as the original Dracula, Invasion of the Body Snatchers, and The Haunting. (No remakes!)

Introduce them to the concept of DIY costuming to save money on materials. You can teach ladies how to sew and you can teach the guys how to use tools to create something like a tank they can wear if they want to go as something from the latest video game. It’s a great way to get creative with costume ideas without going into the “sexy costume” territory.

If they feel ready for a serious scare, take them out to a seriously scary haunted house maze or show them the Evil Dead/Art of Darkness series.

In conclusion, Halloween is a great holiday and does not deserve the bashing it gets or the secularization it’s already getting.

If you don’t want to take my word for it, Fr. Angel talks about it on this tumblr.

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