Several years ago during the month of October, a book appeared on my desk anonymously from a parent who meant well. The title read, “Mommy, why don’t we celebrate Halloween?” As you can imagine, it continued to expound on the many ways Halloween can be interpreted to foster and even encourage evil in our world.
Every fall I struggle with the appropriate way to handle the whole Halloween concept. How do I help our children enjoy the fun and frivolity of a traditional Halloween without feeling like I have taken a wrong turn in my own faith journey? After many years spent with preschoolers and their families, the answer to that question has become clear for me and I would like to share it with you as well.
Halloween vs. All Saints Day
The evening we now know as Halloween was originally called “All Hallows Eve.” It had its origins in pagan harvest festivals and was never about our loving God or the abounding grace we receive from God. The Celts in Europe used the occasion to mark the end of their calendar year and to celebrate anticipated prosperity in the coming year. I don’t know about you, but to me, those sound like very POSITIVE reasons to celebrate.
The often overlooked Christian celebration associated with Halloween happens the day after “All Hallows Eve.” November 1st was originally “the Feast of All Hallows (saints)” and is now referred to as All Saint’s Day. It is a day for remembering and paying special homage to all the “saints” who have gone before us, named and unnamed.
The Church’s Memorial Day
In my experience, All Saint’s Day is celebrated most actively by Catholic families; but numerous Protestant congregations also make observance of it in some way. I have even heard it called the “Church’s Memorial Day,” in reference to the focus placed on honoring those who have sacrificed their lives for others.
Focusing on the POSITIVE
So here ends my history lesson. This is all just to say that I take the education of our children seriously. I feel that they learn a great deal by our behavior when we do not even know they are watching or listening. So at HPGP, we will use our energy to have fun and do POSITIVE activities for Halloween. We encourage you to do the same by helping your child choose costumes that represent non-threatening, un-scary characters and those that do not involve knives, guns or swords. Children love make-believe, so it is up to us to provide them with the proper guidance.