Halloween and All Saints’ Day come at the natural new year, a time when traditionally the harvest is complete, and signs of winter begin to appear. In many religions, this is a holy time when it is believed that the veil between the worlds of the living and the dead is very thin and fragile.
November 2, All Souls’ Day, is an opportunity to remember family members and friends who have passed. People remember, tell stories, and pray to those who passed on to ask for blessings. Food is shared and sometimes left out overnight for the visiting spirits.
In the early years of the Christian faith, there was a consistent effort to eradicate pagan practices and to replace these with Christian festivals. The Roman Catholic church changed the Celtic Samhain festival and the Roman Feast of the Lamures and renamed them “All Hallows’ Eve,” in an attempt to turn peoples’ thinking away from a focus on the fright of death and ghosts and towards the many saints advocating for Christians in the Kingdom of Heaven. All Saints’ Day was established as the first of November with All Hallows’ Eve replacing the festival of Samhain. All Saints’ Day was probably first started by Pope Boniface IV, who consecrated the Pantheon at Rome to the Virgin Mary and all the Martyrs on May 13, 609 AD.
In the Catholic Church, All Saints’ Day is a “holy day of obligation.” Attendance at mass is a requirement on these days. All Saints’ Day is also commemorated by members of the Eastern Orthodox Church as well as some protestant churches, such as Lutheran and Anglican churches.
All Souls’ Day was established in the early fifth century with a similar intention. This day is not a holy day of obligation. The more sanctified remembering of those who have died help new Christians relate to the departed in a less frightening, or less pagan way.
Ideas for Celebration:
- Learn about El Día de los Muertos/The Day of the Dead. This is a lovely site with timelines, history, traditions, and recipes.
- Put out photos of loved ones who have passed away. Tell stories about their lives.
- Share a harvest meal with friends and family.
- Light candles inside and outside – in jack o’ lanterns or votive holder or pretty decorative autumn globes.
- Kids Party Games
- Activities for Kids
- Kids Party Ideas
- Watch or read Coco.
- Attend church services. Or do these prayer services at home.
- Visit a memorial in your city.
- Visit a cemetery. Bonus if there are famous people or family members or passed friends.
- Go on a history walk in your town. Our town offers ghost walks about town founders and important people.
- Go to a thin place and feel the Spirit. Pray and thank Her for the past year and the future year.
It is certainly a good idea around Halloween to help little ones think loving thoughts about our beloved ancestors. To remember them and think of them watching over us with interest and affection can help us all feel protected in this time of year as the days of light turn to the days of darkness.