Where did the secular traditions of Halloween originate? Do they have anything to do with Catholic Traditions? Is it OK for Catholics to celebrate Halloween?
Halloween, the Evening of All Hallows, was once a time for Christians to mock the devil by reveling in the triumph of Jesus Christ over evil and death. In the year 610 AD, Pope Boniface IV dedicated the Roman pantheon (false Roman gods) to the Blessed Virgin Mary and to all Christian martyrs and set aside the day of All Saints in their honor. Years later the date of October 31st was set for the feast because it coincided with the Lemuria festival, a pagan Roman celebration intended to satisfy the restless dead. A century later, this Day of All Saints was moved to November 1. “All Hallows,” “Hallowmass, “ “Hallowtide,” and “Halloween” eventually joined the stable of popular designations for the time in the Church’s liturgical calendar when the Church commemorates its saints (or hallowed ones). Halloween was really a time for Christians to celebrate the triumph of Jesus’ Resurrection over death as seen through the lives of all the holy saints and blessed martyrs who died for the faith. Today the Church continues this tradition by celebrating the Feast of All Saints on November 1st every year. On All Saints Day we rejoice in all the holy men and women who have entered into the heavenly inheritance and pray that we may one day be counted with the blessed saints in heaven.
It is perfectly permissible for Catholics to celebrate Halloween so long as we remember that it is ultimately a celebration of Jesus’ triumph over death through the resurrection. For centuries Catholics dressed in scary costumes and makeup as a way of mocking the powerlessness of the devil. All Hallows Eve is all about Christ’s triumph of the Resurrection revealing to the world that evil and Satan have no real power. The Decorations, the costumes, the games, the candy--they can add enjoyment to the celebration, yet they are but trappings. The true joy of the holiday is Christ’s victory over death, this triumph over evil, and the invitation he offers us to share in that victory and in that triumph. Never forget that the meaning behind Halloween is holy mockery of the devil. Long live the triumph of the Cross and the Saints!
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