Last week, my kids and I took a walk through the neighborhood. The joy of Halloween filled our conversation as we passed houses adorned with fake spiderwebs, gravestones, skeletons, and more. While it can be fun to simply gawk and gasp at the spectacles, I made sure to point out the deeper meaning behind the symbols that have become so synonymous with the holiday.
It is good to remember what Halloween symbolizes as it points us beyond ourselves to something greater. It does not exist for its own sake. I would like to share a few things to remember on how we can celebrate the feast day and keep the true meaning at heart, while still having an awesome time.
1. Remember what Halloween celebrates.
“All Hallows Eve” or the “Eve of All Saints Day” is what the term Halloween refers to. Basically, this follows the tradition of celebrating a feast day in the Church as soon as the sun goes down the previous evening, which is in accordance with Jewish tradition as well. The day after Halloween is All Saints’ Day, a celebration of all the saints in heaven, whether they are named as such by the Church or not.
Halloween is only the start of the party for this great feast day complete with fun, treats, games, decorations and festivities. Have a great time celebrating, but remember to continue the party the next day in order to adequately honor those men and women who found eternal rest in Heavenly Glory.
2. Honor life by mocking death.
Some might find the Halloween theme too macabre, but we should remember the reason behind it. The feast of All Saints shows us that eternal life is possible and death is not meant to be a permanent fixture. Death does not have the final say and should be held in contempt through mockery and fun rather than feared.
The goal is not to celebrate death, but to honor life. Let’s fill our Halloween with decorations and costumes that jeer at death and remind ourselves that it has been triumphed over by Christ on the cross. The next point can help us keep this in mind.
3. See the deeper meaning.
Our viewpoint of the world has become far too literal these days. Decorations are not an end in themselves; we are not meant to decorate for the sake of decoration. We set up symbols around our homes to point ourselves and others to a deeper meaning. We can point to the mockery of death or emphasize the beauty of life by starkly contrasting it. Furthermore, we can use the symbols of Halloween to remain conscious of our own limited time here on Earth.
“Momento mori”, which is Latin for “Remember Death”, is a beautiful phrase to keep on your lips as you view the costumes and decorations of this holiday. I never look at a skull or skeleton without thinking about these words and my own mortality. We are not on Earth forever and need to live as such to ensure that we will one day celebrate All Hallows Eve forever in Heaven.
4. Be merciful and have fun.
If you’re an adult hanging out with other adults, have a blast doing adult things with the Halloween theme! However, I believe when you’re not a parent it’s easy to forget about young children and how they take in the world. We want to have fun, and we want our children to have fun, however, young kids don’t need to be scarred for life in order to have a good time.
I know with my own kids, if any house looks like it is too intense, we will most likely skip it. As they get older, they will see through the hideous and scary things to the mockery and once again look down on death. We just aren’t quite there yet.
5. Use it to love others.
Interestingly enough, trick or treating stems from the charity of good-natured folks who started the tradition by going door to door to beg for food for the poor. While we don’t need the kids asking for money at each doorstep, we can encourage our kids to donate a portion of the candy they get to those who are unable to go trick-or-treating.
Furthermore, the tradition of trick-or-treating is a great time to practice showing others courtesy by speaking kindly, saying please and thank you, and engaging with people at each visit. Furthermore, the classic “please take one” candy bowl is a perfect way for your kids to practice honesty.
And finally, at least for us, Halloween has always been a time to see the good in the world and other people. Every year we have experienced such goodness and kindness in neighbors that rings throughout the final months of the year.
These are five simple ways to celebrate Halloween well and, if you have kids, help them to do the same. Is there anything we missed? We would love to hear your ideas! Leave them in a comment below or send them to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Happy Halloween everyone! We hope you have a wonderful time and stay safe!