Sunday, October 16, 2016

Seven Ways to Have a Very Catholic Halloween

For my post to share with {SQT}: Seven Quick Takes this week, I thought I would share seven ways to have a very Catholic Halloween! I honestly think that Halloween often time has a bad connotation attached to it that can make it hard for some people to want to celebrate. An important fact to remember is that when Christianity was being spread many pagan holidays were modified to celebrate Christ and the liturgical teachings. As long as you are embracing the correct teachings any day can be celebrated, including Halloween! The most important thing to keep in mind, is that Halloween isn't the big holiday, it is actually the beginning of celebrating All Saint's Day. You can't have an All Hallows Eve without the Holy Day!


The Jack O' Lantern:

There are several ways to incorporate the Jack O' Lantern into your Catholic Halloween. You can create a Saint O'Lantern or in other words, a pumpkin with a Saint, rosary or other object that symbolizes something Holy is a great idea. If you prefer to draw a customary Jack O' Lantern face... that's OK too! I always read the story of the Jack O' Lantern. The story discusses heaven, hell, Saint Peter and the devil. My kids are always intrigued by the story and it opens the discussion of purgatory as well since All Soul's Day is in dedication of the souls in purgatory. I also like to include the pumpkin prayer with my kids regardless of what we decide to carve into our pumpkins. A few years ago, Little Man even said a prayer for Stingy Jack in hopes that he would find a way to heaven.
Roasting pumpkin seeds can be a great metaphor too! You are scooping out the seeds (scooping out the sin) and roasting it in the oven. I think you get where I am going with this.


Remember to Pray:

Including prayer on Halloween is essential to a Catholic Halloween. Halloween also known as All Hallows Eve because the following day is the feast of All Saints. The entire month of October is dedicated to the rosary so including the Rosary, the pumpkin prayer mentioned above and prayers for the souls in purgatory are important. October is also dedicated to Respecting Life and November is dedicated to Souls in Purgatory.

You can even receive some Indulgences for your prayers during this Holy time! A partial indulgence can be obtained by devoutly visiting a cemetery and praying for the dead. You can also gain a plenary indulgence visiting a cemetery each day between November 1 and November 8. These indulgences, however, are only applicable to the Souls in Purgatory. A plenary indulgence for the Souls in Purgatory, is also granted when the faithful attend a church on November 2. In visiting the church, you must pray one Our Father and the Creed. A partial indulgence can be obtained for the Souls in Purgatory when the Eternal Rest is prayed. This can be prayed all year, but especially during the month of November:

Eternal rest grant to them, O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon them. May the souls of the faithful departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace. 


The Decorations:

Decorating for a holiday is important. During Halloween, All Saint's and All Soul's I actually change up my decorations to correlate with what is being celebrated. My Halloween or All Hallows Eve decor consists of the above. I stay away from anything related to witches, zombies and anything demonic. Skulls and bones represent the dead and I have branches, pumpkins, gourds, leaves and pine cones scattered throughout the display to represent the Autumn. The scary house is actually a tea light holder and so are the bottles on the ends of the mantel. I have explained to my boys that these things aren't meant to be scary but to remind us that all things are beautiful in God's eyes and the light he shines down on all of us. 

Once Halloween is over, I will be removing a few items and sprucing up a few others. I will create a Saint Tree from the branches and hang saint medals that are important to my family up there. I will also put up other decor that portrays feelings of thanksgiving. As you can see, our crucifix is the main decoration and sits above everything because above all things God is most important. He is the focal point of our household. 


Let's Trick-or-Treat:

Trick-or-treating has roots dated back to early Christianity. Young adults and children would go door- to-door asking for a Soul Cake in exchange for prayers for the neighbors deceased family members. Back then trick-or-treaters were called "Soulers." I think I like that name better because it sounds more liturgical. In addition to asking for soul cakes the children would often sing:

"Soul, Soul, a soul cake!
I pray thee, good missus, a soul cake!

One for Peter, two for Paul, three for Him what made us all!

Soul Cake, soul cake, please good missus, a soul cake.
An apple, a pear, a plum, or a cherry, any good thing to make us all merry.

One for Peter, two for Paul, & three for Him who made us all."

I have made soul cakes for the boys before and will probably be doing it again this year too. Check out Catholic Cuisine for a great recipe! The roots of Trick-or-treating were special to believers of Christ, so make sure your children know why it is they go out on Halloween night! I have asked my children to say prayers to those that gave them treats on this night and why shouldn't they? A prayer for a treat seems like a pretty good trade-off to me!


The Costume:

Here is were some troubles begins for some families. How scary is too scary? What is an appropriate costume for your child, your family and your beliefs? The answer to this is a little tricky. For my family, I try to steer my children in the direction of characters that they admire or would like to be more like. I do not force my kids to dress up as Saints because I feel it takes away the excitement of dressing up as a Saint on All Saint's Day. I have shared several pictures from past Halloweens and my boys were dressed up as: Scooby Doo, Transformers, Captain America, A Cowboy, A Football Player and other non scary costumes. That being said, my oldest is starting to ask questions about scary costumes. I have never said they weren't allowed so we will be entering the crossroads about what is appropriate to wear in the upcoming years I am sure. 


The Halloween Party:

I came across an article several years ago and I wish I could find it to share but the topic was about scary Halloween. It discusses how we as Catholics should utilize the "scary" aspects of Halloween to remind us how VERY REAL Hell really is and remind us that Purgatory is not Heaven so it isn't sunshine and giggles either. I loved that the author of this article compared the Christmas Carol Story to Halloween and how "scary" it was for Bob Cratchit to essentially be "haunted" by his friend who was in Purgatory. They even suggested that you could host a Halloween party and create a cemetery and place tombs in your yard with real names of friend's and family members that had passed away. At the Halloween party you would pray a rosary in your yard "cemetery" and an adult would dress up as a soul in purgatory (covered in chains and locks) and cry out for help and prayers. The whole scene sounded so scary but truly a way to illuminate the importance of living a good and prayerful life for your family. Honestly, this would be a crazy scary house to visit too while trick or treating. 

The article also mentioned incorporating some other traditional games like Bobbing for apples, eating soul cakes, having a bonfire and so much more. If anyone reading this knows what article I am referring to I would be so grateful for you to send me the link! If we use these scary things to be reminded of the souls waiting to go to Heaven, maybe a scary Halloween isn't such a bad thing? Especially if we are celebrating with friends and family and we truly understand that God is the light of the world. 


All Saint's Day:

The TRUE Celebration! As I stated earlier, Halloween is a day to prepare for All Saint's Day so you can't celebrate one without the other! My favorite traditions on this day is the Parish All Saint's Day Parade when children dress as their favorite saints. They parade through the church and are normally blessed, we even had a priest that would have each child tell the congregation which saint they were dressed as for the day and something special about the saint. 

In our home I already mentioned we hang medals from our fall branches to make an All Saint's Tree. In addition to the All Saint's Tree, we adorn the Altar with prayer cards and pictures of saints that our family has special devotion. We also cook special meals throughout the day. We don't call this a Feast day for nothing! We feast on the Feast of All Saint's with our favorite dishes that remind us of our favorite saints! 

I hope these Seven Ways to Have a Very Catholic Halloween are helpful in your Halloween preparations! If you are still looking for more information on Halloween and the Catholic Liturgical Year please check out the following resources:

God Bless!


  1. I love this! These past few years I've been on the fence about Halloween. A few people made me feel guilty for liking to decorate and celebrate it. Now I'll be able to celebrate guilt-free from the Catholic perspective. Sharing on my blog. Thanks!

    1. Thank you! One of the many reasons I love the Catholic faith is that we know how to celebrate! And why shouldn't we? Life is a gift and we are honoring God with happiness!

  2. First off, that's the most adorable goatee ever. :)

    Secondly, I had always hoped my kids wouldn't notice anything scary about Halloween, because I didn't know how to explain it. We're pretty sheltered, but like you said, there are going to be questions soon. What a great way to tie in the scariness to the faith! Thanks for sharing. :)

    1. Thank you! Little Man always requests some facial hair on All Saint's Day which I think is both so adorable and hilarious at the same time :)

      I understand how you feel about Halloween too! A few years ago I was really on the fence about whether I should allow my children to participate in any activities but as I really thought about the activities and the meaning behind it I thought these are all teachable moments that could make a more lasting impression because they are paired with prayer, fun and family time!

  3. I love the cemetery/rosary idea. Great post!