Given the ghoulish and often gruesome nature that Halloween has adopted in modern culture, many are unaware that Halloween is actually Catholic in origin. The word “Halloween” is a contraction of “All Hallows Eve” and began as a celebration on the evening before All Hallows Day (the Holy Day of Obligation which we now call All Saints Day —“hallow” is an Old English word for “Saint”).
Over the years, as Halloween became commercialized and secularized, its true roots and purpose have been misconstrued and misunderstood (much like Christmas and Easter). However, Halloween really presents a wonderful opportunity to have fun as a family and educate our children about the Church in a way that is interesting to them.
You can start by telling your kids about Halloween’s history as the evening festivities leading up to All Saints Day. Explain that All Saints Day is an occasion when we honor special people who spent their life doing good things for others — these people were so kindhearted and selfless that the Church made them saints.
Take this time to introduce some of the saints to your child. There are books that will help you accomplish this, including “The Children’s Book of Saints” which even preschoolers will enjoy; “Loyola Kids Book of Saints” for older children; and “Catholic Saints for Children,” which can appeal to those as young as 2 or 3, while older kids seem to like it as well.
Encourage your child to pick a particularly interesting saint and use this opportunity to, as a family, ask that saint for prayers. Let your kids know that if they’d like to dress up as a saint for Halloween, you will help them put a costume together. Check out this Pinterest page for options.
Even if your child has a different idea about what the Halloween costume should be, he or she can always dress as a favorite saint for Mass on November 1st.
Perhaps before going out to trick or treat on the 31st, you can ask Saint Nicholas for prayers for your children’s safety or ask Saint Michael the Archangel for protection of the whole family.
In the days and weeks leading up to Halloween, steer clear of the more horrific elements, but embrace all the opportunities for fun together:
- Designate a day to decorate your home. Try to keep things light with family-friendly options.
- Read Halloween books like “The Itsy Bitsy Pumpkin” and “Biscuit Visits the Pumpkin Patch” as a family.
- Visit a local pumpkin patch, perhaps let your kids ride the ponies and get their faces painted.
- Decorate or carve pumpkins safely together and roast the seeds for a healthy snack.
- Enjoy that snack while watching family-friendly Halloween programming.
Here are a couple of dates to add to your viewing calendar …
Wednesday, October 19th: “It’s The Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown” celebrates its 50th Anniversary this year. The classic airs on ABC at 8 p.m. ET/PT, and will be available to watch online here the very next day. The full-length version of the special will re-air on ABC on Friday, 10/28 at 8 p.m. ET/PT.
Or, you can watch it on YouTube:
Sunday, October 23rd: “Peppa Pig: Pumpkin Party” airs for the first time in the U.S. on Nick Jr.. at 7 p.m. ET.
Here’s a look:
Korbi is a former full-time TV blogger, writing for sites such as E! Online and Yahoo!. She is now a full-time mom of twin boys. In her free time, she moonlights as a Marriage, Family & Individual therapist.
Image: “It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown,” courtesy ABC