The neighborhood is starting to light up. Orange lights are strung across porch railings and pumpkins, scarecrows, and witches are perched along curbsides. One household erected a fake cemetery in their front yard while another strung a huge spider web between two enormous pine trees. Soon, the neighborhood will be filled with trick-or-treaters in costume. It’s beginning to look a lot like Halloween.
As a child, it was magical to run around the neighborhood, dressed in a costume and seeing how much candy I could haul home before my trick-or-treat bag burst. And as a parent, I took delight in accompanying my children as they raced from house to house. There was something festive about being out among neighbors in the dark of night.
Though Halloween is a now a mostly secular annual holiday, it is historically connected to All Saints’ and All Souls’ Days. All Saints’ Day is a solemnity celebrated on November 1st. On this day we celebrate the great Communion of Saints, which includes those holy men and women who have passed before us but have not been canonized. All Souls’ Day is celebrated on November 2nd and is a day to remember and pray for all those who have died.
Though Halloween is a now a mostly secular annual holiday, it is historically connected to All Saints’ and All Souls’ Days.
Special occasions are a wonderful opportunities to invite Catholic kids and families to come together in prayer, and with its historical ties to All Saints and All Souls’ Days, Halloween is no exception. This downloadable Halloween prayer can be shared by families or by students in religious education as Halloween approaches to remember the connections between the holiday and the Church’s celebration of All Saints and All Souls’ Days. Or, families can pray this Halloween prayer before trick-or-treating to ward off the spooky feelings some children may experience and ask for God to light the dark, on Halloween and in our lives.
These days I am more drawn to All Saints Day than Halloween. This seems natural since I now have so many family members and friends who have joined the Communion of Saints. When sleep won’t come due to a mind racing with anxiety, angst, or overload, I find comfort in this sacred circle. Memories flow over me and I breathe their names in a silent litany. It’s another ritual played out in the dark, one that brings comfort, peace, and a rich feeling of blessedness among those whose presence lingers despite the worlds that lie between us.
This year, remember to keep All Saints' Day a focus as you pray the Halloween prayer and participate in pumpkin-filled festivities at home or in your parish.
Download a Prayer for Halloween and use it in your home or parish to pray for the safety and well-being of children as they celebrate the holiday.