Oh, Dearest Mother, Sweetest Virgin of Altagracia, our Patroness. You are our Advocate and to you we recommend our needs. You are our Teacher and like disciples we come to learn from the example of your holy life. You are our Mother, and like children, we come to offer you all of the love of our hearts. Receive, dearest Mother, our offerings and listen attentively to our supplications. Amen.



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JSchaaf
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Posted: Sept 19 2006 at 4:48pm | IP Logged Quote JSchaaf

We were at a park day with our local Christian Homeschool Group. Anne-Catherine brought up the subject of Halloween costumes with another little girl and the little girl said "We don't have Halloween. My mother says it's the devil's celebration." I didn't hear of this until today, but I'd like to know what to say next time (or if the subject comes up with the moms!) I know Halloween is All Hallow's Eve, in relation to All Saints Day, but not much else. Can you help me??
Jennifer
PS...My girls aren't dressing up like devils, ghouls, vampires,etc. They are going to be Lucia, Jacinta and Francisco of Fatima. Doesn't sound like a "devil's celebration" to me.
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MicheleQ
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Posted: Sept 19 2006 at 6:19pm | IP Logged Quote MicheleQ

Jennifer,

Here's are some articles that might be helpful:

http://www.catholicculture.org/docs/doc_view.cfm?recnum=1230

http://www.ewtn.com/library/MARY/HALLWEEN.HTM

http://www.catholicculture.org/lit/activities/view.cfm?id=91 3

My kids always dress and go trick or treating as did dh and I when we were kids.

The favorite costume ideas this year are Narnia and Pirates of the Carribean.

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Posted: Sept 20 2006 at 8:08am | IP Logged Quote marihalojen

As a child I loved Halloween! Mom always made it more of an Autumn Fest for us and I follow her lead with Marianna.

I do find alot of fellow (Protestant) homeschoolers are horrified that we celebrate that "devil's holiday" and I used to try and explain it was all about the pumpkins and autumn leaves and having a supercool costume (I'm always drawn to hoopskirts, must be residual from a childhood of planning costumes that snowsuits can go under rather than over ) But if I don't feel like getting into it, I'll just name a saint from the time period I'm dressing from and then they are so horrified that we're Catholic they run screaming away from us like we're some monster or something. Just joking!

This same group holds a huge American Girls Dress-up party the same week and that is okay, just so long as it is not on Halloween as they have pamplets and a puppet show that they set up in the biggest Halloweeny neighborhood around here to Save People that night.

So, not much help or advice, Jennifer. Just alot of commiseration!

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Posted: Sept 20 2006 at 8:57am | IP Logged Quote hylabrook1

This attitude among many evangelical Protestants is simlar to the outlook some take about Christmas trees - they are pagan in origin and have no place in a Christian celebration. I think Catholicism has a long history of "baptizing" aspects of old celebrations; in the case of Christmas trees, taking a symbol of a pagan winter solstice celebration and using it as a symbol of eternal life (it being an evergreen tree),which we have because of the birth of Jesus (the reason we celebrate Christmas).

In the case of Halloween, a priest once explained to a group of which I was a part that in preparation for celebrating All Saints, we were seeing the power of God over all creation. When we dress up as all sorts of things, we are saying that God created a wide diversity of things, all of which are weak vessels that can be transformed by God's saving grace into good and holy things (as any person can become a saint through the transformation of their lives brought about by Grace). That is how Halloween is a preparation for All Saints Day.

This may not be an official Church teaching about Halloween, but it is probably closer to the truth than the notion that Halloween is 'the devil's holiday'.

I do not allow my children to dress as *evil* things, as I find that offensive and it scares me to have anyone seek to imitate something evil.

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Posted: Sept 20 2006 at 11:51am | IP Logged Quote JodieLyn

http://www.catholicexchange.com/vm/index.asp?vm_id=2&art_id= 9855
http://www.cuf.org/faithfacts/details_view.asp?ffID=9
http://www.envoymagazine.com/backissues/2.5/story1.html

But I also have to remember, especially when discussing this online.. that what Halloween is like in my little town, may not be what halloween is like in larger cities... from what some people have told me, there are places it's not a kids night out type of thing any more.. that malicious "tricks" are being played and people are doing truly horrible things.. and it makes perfect sense in those areas where it has gotten so bad to do something else.

Now here, things are as tame, or tamer than they were 30 some odd years ago when I was out doing the trick or treating.. I have to admit I get a kick out of the teens driving past leaning out the windows to wave to my (9 and under) children.

I've had my children convinced into doing Winnie the Pooh characters for the last 3 years.. I will still get 2-3 of them into them this year.. but the older ones want something else.. now to just work out the something else so it's not something they'll FREEZE in

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Posted: Sept 20 2006 at 3:00pm | IP Logged Quote JennGM

I know I wrote one of those article Michele posted, but that was before I was married and had children. Growing up we had the All Saints type Halloween party for years, since I was 6. I liked it, and over the years we had wonderful reception from other families and even high schoolers when we moved to VA. I love finding old traditions of the soul cake and other things. We would spend many months pouring over the Saint volumes trying to find a saint that would stump the other family members, and one that had a fabulous costume. I have many fond memories.

As Catholics we have learned to baptize other traditions, making them our own.

But my husband helped me see that not all Halloween traditions are evil. He thinks the All Saints party is a little over the top -- too holy for own britches. Of course, I don't completely agree. But we compromise and do things like dressing up in costumes, carve Jack-o-Lanterns, trick-or-treating to certain homes (Halloweening is what my dh calls it, from western PA).

My sister with her little ones does two costumes -- one saint and one secular. She does the traditional Halloween and All Saints day is the celebration of the saints.

My son is three, so it's a little easier to shield him from the evil and scary things of Halloween. I dislike the battle of Halloween -- all the consumerism and evil stuff. Christmas consumerism is bad enough, but I don't have to grapple with images of scary things. I don't want to see witches and gruesome things. But there are loads of other costumes of characters and things that are just fine, and that's what we celebrate here. Just innocent fun for the littles.

I guess you can just say that there is some natural good in some of the traditional celebrations of Halloween. If you seek the bad, you'll find it. If you put a positive spin, take the day, eschew the bad and embrace the good, you'll have a wonderful Halloween no matter how you celebrate it.

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Cay Gibson
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Posted: Sept 20 2006 at 3:19pm | IP Logged Quote Cay Gibson

JennGM wrote:
I HATE Halloween because it is a battle -- all the consumerism and evil stuff. Christmas consumerism is bad enough, but I don't have to grapple with images of scary things. I don't want to see witches and gruesome things. But there are loads of other costumes of characters and things that are just fine, and that's what we celebrate here. Just innocent fun for the littles.

If you seek the bad, you'll find it. If you put a positive spin, take the day, eschew the bad and embrace the good, you'll have a wonderful Halloween no matter how you celebrate it.


Your last two statements are key, Jenn.

Remember, the mother sets the tone.

If we live fearful, critical, skeptical, and disillusioned; our children will grow up like that.

If we find the good in things rather than the bad, our children will learn to follow suit.

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Posted: Sept 20 2006 at 5:04pm | IP Logged Quote Sarah in SC

Cay Gibson wrote:

Remember, the mother sets the tone.

If we live fearful, critical, skeptical, and disillusioned; our children will grow up like that.

If we find the good in things rather than the bad, our children will learn to follow suit.


What profound wisdom for a girl of your few years, Cay!

I'd love to pass your words on to a few acquaintences of mine!

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Cay Gibson
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Posted: Sept 20 2006 at 5:46pm | IP Logged Quote Cay Gibson

Sarah in SC wrote:

What profound wisdom for a girl of your few years, Cay!


Oh, you make me feel so young. Thanks!

Sarah in SC wrote:
I'd love to pass your words on to a few acquaintences of mine!


It's really an old school of thought, Sarah. You can see many other forms here (be sure to scroll down for different versions):
Children Learn What They Live

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Posted: Sept 21 2006 at 2:52pm | IP Logged Quote saintanneshs

Hi Jennifer,
I haven't checked out the links above, but I'm hoping one of them has a nice historical outline of where Halloween comes from, just to give you some perspective. (If not, I can share with you what I put together last year, which I didn't include here but was the first part of what I have copied and pasted from my own files below.) I think a talk like this emerged here in October of last year... Anyway, after having a similar experience with a Christian Evangelical homeschooling friend, I started looking for why we celebrated Halloween too. Even though I didn't really come up with a perspective that would sway my non-Catholic friends (who think it's the devil's holiday and don't share my Catholic heritage, so why would a Catholic persprective hold any water with them??), I did find out a great deal of wonderful information for myself and my Catholic siblings (who I sent all of my information to when I was finished composing!! ) BTW, they asked me to be sure I saved it for them for when they had children!
     
Here's the end of what I put together, minus the history, FWIW... (and it's all just MHO )...
    As a footnote to all of this history, I have researched and composed all of this as a chance for me to form a proper perspective on the night of ghosts and goblins, known as Halloween to both pagans and Christians, and also as “Holy Evening” to Catholic children. I certainly wouldn’t want to sound authoritative or as if I’m telling anyone what they should or shouldn’t be thinking about when it comes to Halloween. Seems like everyone has their own "take" on it. I’ve always thought it to be harmless fun and after discovering that there are quite a few families who do not share that opinion, I began to wonder why. As with Christmas and Easter, which have largely become pagan celebrations of “me,me,me,” I wanted to discover the deeper meaning behind our traditions of trick-or-treat and the like, so as to be able to share the purpose of these special days with my children. Boy, what a treasure I found! Even though Ben will say I have thought way too much about this, I am happy in my new-found ability to explain our “take” (and thus, our heritage) on this spooky and saintly night!
     In the last few years (perhaps because we’re homeschooling and the little children haven’t been too exposed to more than a bit of the usual Halloween fare) I’ve found that there are many Christians who denounce the night all together, claiming it has no place in a Christ-centered home and family. I must believe (now knowing the pagan origins and historically-altered Catholic significance of the Eve of All Saints) that those who will have no part of Halloween are either choosing to have no part of the Catholic Church’s traditions (as in the Reformation) OR what they believe are still-in-place pagan worship traditions dating back to the time before Christ. While I can understand Protestant parents’ reluctance to have their children embrace what they believe is a pagan holiday, there is however, a great need for Christians to understand that Halloween is in essence a good reality check. On this night we come face to face, in the form of ghosts and all things scary, with our own mortality, something we spend the rest of the year trying not to think about. On this night we examine our life's choices so as NOT to be left wandering the earth in darkness (as are the more obvious devilishly-costumed creatures around us). Lucky for us, we have better examples to follow. We have the saints!
     Catholic children have the unique privilege of embracing Halloween for what it really is, a holy evening. Since we are surrounded by death in this world, it seems only logical to let our children know that death is scary for those who do not share Christ’s light and what brighter place can there be than for our children to spend an evening surrounded by reminders of death and yet walking in the light of the Communion of Saints? For Catholics, "Holy Evening" is a time to remember that the saints in heaven, through their intercessions on our behalf, are praying for us and if we are knowing, loving, and serving our Lord daily, we need not fear death, for it brings no finality to life!

--Since we believe in life after death, trick-or-treating is OUR custom, a procession promising prayers for the deceased members of each household in exchange for treats. Lucky for us, praying for the dead is not limited only to The Eve of All Saints, as we are supposed to be praying for the dead throughout the year!

--Carving jack-o-lanterns is OUR tradition, one where we recognize the power of Satan and all his evil works and wish to ward him off!

--Dressing up in costumes on Halloween, maybe even of saints (for an All Saints party on Nov. 1) is also OUR practice. I think I’ll try to encourage the children to choose a costume of a storybook character they’d like to emulate, if they don’t want to be a saint…
Halloween is a night of pretend and make-believe, a night to be something or someone other than you are, perhaps someone you want to be like. It is a night of remembering the saints and our own beloved, who have passed from this world into the next. It is a night of being aware of all of the evil temptations that surround us, and the penalty for succumbing to those temptations without repentance, and an after-life without God's grace or presence. As for my family, it will also be a night of prayer, remembering to pray for the beloved dead of the families who give us yummy treats! (With the hope that once they enter heaven, they will pray for us in return!) In October we will spend time each day learning about the Saints and their stories, as well as pumpkins, bats, etc. (similar to spending time each day learning about Advent and Saint Nicholas amid the more obvious Santa & presents of the Christmas season). We won’t be dressing up as anything disgusting unless it’s a saint like St. Thomas More who was been beheaded and we won’t have any witches in the house with so much emphasis on Halloween being directed toward practice of the occult. But we will have jack-o-lanterns and trick-or-treat and costumes, all in the great tradition of our faith. Halloween is just one more reason it's great to be Catholic!

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Posted: Sept 21 2006 at 3:15pm | IP Logged Quote Patty LeVasseur

Kristine,
Wow! That was great. Thanks so much for sharing this. Thanks to you, our studies about Halloween will be very interesting this year.

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Posted: Sept 21 2006 at 3:38pm | IP Logged Quote JennGM

I had compiled a whole list of Halloween links for someone else. They may overlap. I'm with Kristine, I love digging up the old traditions.

We have loads of room for our own interpretations, as we've mentioned in this thread. I've included all sorts of links...some I agree with, others partially, some not.

As regards to the after life and dwelling on it, I think it's a positive thing. Really, All Saints and All Souls are a compendium of the Mystical Body of Christ in action. And for us to think of our own death is something we don't do as much as we should!

Some old threads:
Scavenger Hunt
Halloween?

Father Saunders on Halloween and All Saints Day

Fascinating Story for Halloween on Prince Gallitzin. As my husband is from the Central PA area, we love stories about this Russian prince turned missionary priest.

All Hallow's Eve
Ideas for Sanctifying Halloween, All Saints Day and All Souls Day
Halloween, All Saints Day, All Souls Day
Holyween
October 31
November 1
Halloween
Catholic Halloween
CELEBRATING A CATHOLIC HALLOWEEN
All Hallow's Eve

Women for Faith and Family. See at the foot of the page links to All Saints and All Souls Day. Excellent material here.
Domestic Church Halloween
All Saints Day
How Halloween Can Be Redeemed by Page McKean Zyromski
Smashing Pumpkins
Mexican Halloween, Day of the Dead
What to Do About Halloween, by Fr. Scott Archer

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Posted: Sept 21 2006 at 4:44pm | IP Logged Quote SuzanneG

Jenn’s article (linked at the bottom) "Ideas for Sanctifying Halloween All Saints Day All Souls Day" was sort of the format that we followed last year for our All Hallow’s Eve Party for many of the reasons that Kristine wrote about.

We had about 6 other families join us. My children were 4.5, 3, 2 at the time. They went trick or treating (in saints costumes) with dh before the party around the neighborhood, as the party was at our house (this was probably not possible for the other children attending the party).

I have never “gotten into” Halloween and especially struggled with how to incorporate it within our family with small children….my dh, on the other hand….LOVES Halloween….he and his buddies used to take great pride in their garage-haunted-houses before we had children. So, I thought this was a good way to “do’ a Halloween party with a bit of a twist and with an element of the scary…not gruesome or occult-ish….but evil vs. good.   

Everyone at the party loved it! It had great symbolism and was rich with the meaning that we want to emphasize during this “triduum.” It was great fun!

However, in my “post-party-notes” I wrote….

“Because the girls so young…..Maybe ‘too much’ / too religious for Halloween….incorporate several of these ideas into Nov 1 and Nov 2….leave Oct 31 for fun dress ups? Bonfire. Meatless food (fast), and family night prayers to ‘bring us into’ the next 2 days. THEN, do these things we did at the party during the next 2 days. Girls already going to be “different” by home educating…….keep this night “fun.”    

Hmmm……Sort of the point that Jenn’s dh is making.

Also, the girls have been asking for other costumes this year BESIDES saint costumes for this year….of COURSE….dressing up is fun! So, this year…they will dress up as anything FUN on Oct 31, go trick or treating with dad, come home, bonfire, prayers appropriate for bringing us into the next couple of very important days. Then, Nov. 1 will be saints dress up, w/ aspects from last year’s party. Then All Souls day……a sort of “day of the dead” celebration at dinnertime.

We also bring in some elements of the scary….we don’t shy away from that…it’s a way enter into discussion about “evil” and the “devil” / purgatory / hell / heaven….of course this is all VERY TAME at this age….my dc are GIRLS and VERY easily scared! At the party last year, we had a skit last year with a couple of the kids dressed up as the devil fighting with the kids dressed up as saints…..of course, the saints all won! Then, the “poor soul” came out at the end and implored the children to pray for all the souls in purgatory so that there would be more saints to defend against the evil ones! It was SO GREAT!

We do pumpkin carving and all the “harvest / autumn” things.   I stay away from any books, etc that depict witches, etc. as NICE and GOOD! I’m a bit sensitive to the occult aspect of things.   
here

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Posted: Sept 22 2006 at 1:13pm | IP Logged Quote Christine

I may be wrong, but I believe that dressing up for Halloween and trick or treating is more of an American tradition. We only learned about it after moving to the United States. A couple of years ago, the Swiss decided to celebrate Halloween for the first time and many Catholics objected. Our Polish pastor speaks negatively about celebrating Halloween each year and encourages us to spend time in church on the night of the 31st. I believe that the idea of trick or treating and dressing up is foreign to him, just as it was to my family when we moved here.

Our big October/November celebration each year is our homeschool group's All Saints' Potluck (held at our parish). Our children will occasionally go trick or treating with my husband, but they have to wear their All Saints' costumes. The last two years, they have said that they would rather stay home, answer the door, and do something special as a family.

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Posted: Sept 22 2006 at 8:19pm | IP Logged Quote momwise

The roots of Trick or Treating go back to the Catholics in England and Ireland (maybe more of Europe?) custom of begging for Soul Cakes on All Hallows Eve (Eve of All Saints day).

You'll hear from more and more pagans that this holiday is a pagan feast and you'll hear from evangelicals that it's the devil's holiday. It's neither.    

Of course it began with pagans but was made totally Catholic by the Church, who has the authority to make every day a day for God and the Church.

We now celebrate All Hallow's Eve by visiting grandparents, dressing in costumes and Trick-or-Treating. Then All Saint's Day is a holyday and All Soul's Day we hope to return to the cemetary like we did last year. Some years our children have passed out notes while T-o-T-ing that say, "Thank you for the treat, we promise to pray for your dearly departed."

I sure wish I could find Fr. Scott Archer's Halloween pages again. Anybody know where to find them?

So Halloween is now All Hallows Eve, no matter how many pagans want to make it evil or how many protestants want to ignore it.

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Posted: Sept 22 2006 at 10:01pm | IP Logged Quote Christine

momwise wrote:
The roots of Trick or Treating go back to the Catholics in England and Ireland (maybe more of Europe?) custom of begging for Soul Cakes on All Hallows Eve (Eve of All Saints day).


Thank you for the clarification. I knew that Jack-O-Lanterns came from the Irish (thanks to my father-in-law), but I did not realize that dressing up and trick-or-treating came from the English and the Irish.

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Posted: Sept 23 2006 at 10:14am | IP Logged Quote momwise

momwise wrote:
I sure wish I could find Fr. Scott Archer's Halloween pages again. Anybody know where to find them?


Ooops. Jenn already listed it above.

Christine, some of the articles that are linked above explain it much better than I. Your pastor is correct, there are many examples of Halloween that are thourougly Americanized.

I think the secular, American Halloween took over the vacuum left when Catholics lost their liturgical customs in the 60's and 70's. We see the same sort of thing happening to Christmas as more people abandon the religious observance of Advent and the Christmas season.

I feel so sorry for protestants who do not know their Christian history and are always trying to reinvent the holy days. I guess they're doing the best they can but it is painful to watch them cast about in the darkness, so to speak, when their history is right there to guide them if they could see it.

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Posted: Sept 25 2006 at 7:39pm | IP Logged Quote Cay Gibson

You can tell Hershey's Chocolate Corp. isn't wanting to offend anyone.

Listen to Ol' Frank tell the story of Halloween.


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