by Fr. Kevin Joshua Cosme
Before we go into Halloween, let us first examine the Christian solemnity it rides on. From the beginning, the Church has always had an ancient practice of venerating individual saints and martyrs. But in 609 AD, Pope Boniface IV decided to remember them all collectively by instituting the Feast of All Holy Martyrs on the 13th of May.
Photo from Cebu Daily Inquirer
In 837 AD, Pope Gregory IV expanded its scope to include all saints and moved the celebration to the 1st of November, calling it the Feast of All Saints. In medieval times it came to be called All Hallows’ Day (hallow means holy), or Hallowmas. The eve of Hallowmas, the 31st of October, was called All Hallows’ Eve, from which we get the modern Halloween.
It’s hard to pin down exactly when the Halloween traditions of trick-or-treating and dressing up as frightful creatures came from, but they are typically thought to have originated in medieval beliefs about what the dead were doing before All Saints Day. And through the centuries, Halloween has evolved into the secular holiday we know today.
So should Catholics observe Halloween? Well, not as it is practiced today.
As a supposedly Christian observance, it should make us want to celebrate and imitate the saints, the citizens of heaven, and not the denizens of hell.
Candy is sweet and dressing up is fun, but nothing is sweeter than the love of God, and no joy competes with putting on Christ.
Flex our Faith Episode 8: Halloween | Aired on October 30, 2021