My High Holy Day

All the decorations are up, folks are frantically shopping and preparing, and the anticipation is almost killing me as I await the brightest, best moment of the whole liturgical year: Halloween, of course.

As far back as I can remember, this feast far outclassed Christmas on my personal calendar. No matter that Santa brought piles of gifts like the board game version of The Six Million Dollar Man, the Shrunken Head Machine, or yet one more encyclopedia set which I had begged for. None of this could compare with the fistfuls of crunchy loot that strangers dropped into our sacks, as we trooped up and down the stairwells of our tenements. What made those gobs of candy glow with a sinister excitement was the threat that some might be — must be! — laced with deadly poison, our apples stuffed with razor blades, by evil old crones who were eager to kill off the children. Or so my mother insisted, and made me swear not to pop a single kernel of black candy corn into my mouth that she had not personally inspected.

Conversely, given the kind of neighborhood mine was, the threat implied in “Trick or Treat!” was not to be taken lightly. I remember pondering with military thoroughness proportionate punishments for “mean” old ladies or puzzled aliens who offered us nothing — or worse yet, bizarre and improvised foreign items like figs or chunks of feta. The worst thing I ever did was to cover, in its entirety, some miser’s apartment door with dad’s shaving cream. I didn’t get the belt for doing that — I got the buckle. But no regrets; to me, a night of treats with no real threat of tricks seemed like miserable, liberal theology: a guaranteed Heaven floating pink and full of fairies over a desolate, empty Hell.

Of course, this holiday was born to commemorate the many nameless saints and prepare for the feast of holy souls in Purgatory — that scary, fascinating middle place that only we Catholics really believe in. That makes All Souls’ Day (November 2) the most distinctively Roman Catholic holiday in the calendar. The Orthodox pray for the dead, but if you accuse them of agreeing with Catholic teaching on this subject — as on any other –they will vigorously deny it. Likewise, their liturgy and traditions affirm truths suspiciously similar to the Immaculate Conception and the Assumption, which they only began to deny once Rome declared them infallible. Had I the pope’s ear, I’d beg him to teach, ex cathedra, that Jesus really existed — if only to hear the monks of Mt. Athos find ways to deny it.

The Protestant Reformation was pretty much started in reaction against Halloween and All Souls’ Day; Luther nailed up his denunciation of indulgences on October 31, which is still in some places called Reformation Day. In my first Bad Catholic’s book, I suggest as an ecumenical gesture that readers Xerox the indulgence certificate in the book and sell copies to their friends. In England, as Eamon Duffy documents, the popular faith in Purgatory was so overpowering that last wills and testaments typically included generous grants to chantries, whose only job was to say Mass, over and over again (sometimes for hundreds of years), for the soul of the deceased. (My Irish side tells me the English knew they needed it.) King Henry VIII coveted the cash, closed the chantries, and shuttered Purgatory.

This left a gaping hole in the cosmos and the English psyche, as literary critic Stephen Greenblatt observed in Hamlet in Purgatory — which argues that this play reflected a national obsession in Shakespeare’s day: wondering where souls really went right after they died. And indeed, this play must have been seen quite differently by the Catholics and Protestants in the audience. (England was still split almost 50/50 at the time.) For Protestants, the import of Hamlet’s father’s ghost was pretty clear: He wasn’t from Heaven, and Purgatory was a Romish superstition, so the ghost must have come from Hell. Hence his call for Hamlet to kill his usurping uncle and avenge his father’s death was tinged with brimstone. For Catholics, it was at least plausible that the ghost had risen from Purgatory, and his call for rough justice one Hamlet ought to be heed. The endless dithering Hamlet indulges for four more acts could be seen as a metaphor for England’s back-and-forth between the poles of icon-smashing Calvinism and Catholic restoration.


Halloween provokes contention among American Christians to this day. Some homeschooling friends of mine confessed to me that they felt torn over whether or not to let their son dress up and go trick-or-treating; their Protestant friends kept telling them that this holiday was pagan or even Satanic. And given their theology, you can see their point: The souls of the dead are either in Heaven — in which case they’re not walking the earth and need not be appeased, represented, mocked, or even commemorated, depending on which reading you give to the way we Catholics appropriated old pagan customs that marked this time of year– or else they’re in Hell, and not worth remembering. Anyone who’s dead and suffering deserves it, and will go on suffering forever. There’s no sense in attracting his attention.

We, on the other hand, picture the Church in three unequal slices: a golden sliver, already enjoying beatitude; we dung-spattered soldiers still slogging through the trenches here on earth; and the vast military hospital where most of us hope to end up, a very big tent indeed where souls heal from the damage they did themselves on earth and are made whole enough to be welcomed into Heaven. When we do ourselves up in costumes and tromp through the streets on Halloween, we are marching in a kind of Veterans’ Day Parade in honor of the sinners who went before us, not yet into glory but into the painful, therapeutic shadow it casts outside its doors.

It’s our very comfort with the queerness and creepiness of the whole soul-body mystery that marks the Catholic faith off from its closest competitors. I grew up loving The Addams Family, without knowing quite why, until one day as an adult I realized: These people are an aristocratic, trad-Catholic homeschooling family trapped in a sterile Protestant suburb! Shunning the utilitarianism and conformity that surrounds them, they face the Grim Reaper with rueful good cheer, in a Gothic home stock full of relics. Indeed, I think I might have spotted several Addamses at the indult parish in New York City . . .

Of course, there are practical issues in marking this most solemn and Catholic holiday. Some pious folk insist on dressing their children only as saints or angels. This works very well for girls up to the age of ten and boys too young to pronounce the word “lame.” It’s cute for parents to doll their children up as friars like St. Francis or nuns like St. Therese, but the kids know perfectly well they’re being cheated: This holiday, the night before the Feast of All Saints, has always been our way of confronting the eerie, appalling fact of death — the uncertainty of our individual fates, our powerlessness before the scythe that cuts down the just and unjust alike. We want — we need — to face these fears, to play on the brink of the abyss, to shudder in “haunted” houses and whistle by the graveyard. The next day, the actual feast day, we should go to Mass and honor the saints — and maybe go to a graveyard, as they do in Catholic Louisiana, to clean up and decorate the place. But skipping the horror and jumping straight to the glory creates the same kind of empty feeling Shakespeare had, and tried to fill with Hamlet.

Now, I’m very much in agreement that two-year-old children should not be dressed as Satan. For one thing, it’s a little bit too realistic. Indeed, the fallenness of children, which Augustine bemoaned in his Confessions, is so evident to everyone that garbing the little tykes in the robes of absolute evil seems to overstress the point. Nor do we wish to trivialize the serious, deadly purpose of our infernal enemy — dragging each of us screaming to Hell. If you’re feeling puckish, it’s in much better taste to dress up your kids as Osama bin Laden, Annibale Bugnini, or some other of the Evil One’s lesser minions. If you must dress your boys as saints, choose military martyrs, canonized crusaders, or patriarchs from the Old Testament. One suggestion I made as editor of the Feasts and Seasons section of Faith & Family magazine was this: Dress up your daughters as early Roman martyrs, like Agnes and Agatha, and your sons as the Roman soldiers, gladiators, and lions that sent them to heaven. Stock up on lots of fake blood for the girls’ machine-washable tunics, and let the games begin! (Alas, this idea never saw print.)

Dust off that DVD of The Nightmare before Christmas, wake up the kids, and watch the expression on their faces. Trust me, it’s better catechesis and preparation for life than Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer or (God forbid!) The Giving Tree. Read them to sleep with hair-raising accounts of Purgatory by Suffering Souls who appeared to solitary, starving nuns, like the classic Catholic children’s book Read Me or Rue It. Find a Latin requiem Mass for All Souls’ Day, invite your Facebook “friends” and pack the place, collecting plenary indulgences for the dead — in the hope that someday, others will do the same for you. If you’re impious enough to have read this far, something tells me that you’ll need it.

Let me end with a benediction: May all the blessings of the Halloween season descend upon you and remain with you forever. Or at any rate, until enough indulgences pile up, and you’re discharged from that vast V.A. hospital, hale and whole.

Now I’m off to down some pumpkin ale and watch Beetlejuice again.

John Zmirak


John Zmirak is the author, most recently, of The Bad Catholic's Guide to the Seven Deadly Sins (Crossroad). He served from October 2011 to February 2012 as Editor of Crisis.

  • Chris Capolino

    Mr. Zmirak:
    This is fascinating and sooooo eloquently written. I plan to print it out and share your highly researched and beautifully presented facts with a number of my fellow Catholic friends who refuse to take their kids T or T-ing this Sunday, whether in saint/martyr garb or a store bought pirate costume. Being educated with the facts will add even more enjoyment to my family’s Halloween AND when a dear friend or two bemoans the fact that I am taking my children out to T or T, I will be able to share your fantastic “There’s no reason to be afraid of halloween” points.

    Thank you so much for sharing this.
    God Bless,
    Chris C

  • David Ambuul

    I haven’t laughed that hard since Danielle’s last article. I believe in that other world of ambiguous location called Purgatory. For all its hellaciousness it strikes me as a most sweet place, for nobody who gets there stays there: they ALL go to Heaven!
    I also like to do my purgatory time here on earth, because the good nuns who never slapped my fingers with rulers told me this suffering was possible and profitable. I think it was in math class when Sr. Phyllis told us 1 day of suffering voluntarily done here = 10 years off Purgatory over there (you know, the other side)! That made me good at math! It was more nebulous and awesome than the pythagorian junk my sophomore year teacher taught me.
    Now I try to get ahead of the game because some contemplative Carmelite nun in San Francisco who was short, squat and always smiling told me that when I’m done suffering-up for myself, redemptive suffering for those other poor sots (no different from me, really) kicks in.

  • Lisa Marie, OFS

    So happy to find a few more well read Catholics out there!!! You might enjoy Holidays and Holy Nights. It’s a book written by an Anglican fellow trying to rekindle a lot of what was lost in their faith. It is upbeat and one of the few books out there that doesn’t point fingers or make recriminations. smilies/grin.gif

  • MRA

    Awesome article! I especially like this line: ‘Some pious folk insist on dressing their children only as saints or angels. This works very well for girls up to the age of ten and boys too young to pronounce the word “lame.”‘ Exactly! Even as a girl, once you’ve done Joan of Arc, the options get pretty lame. (Actually, I was Judith once, complete with bloodsoaked sack in hand, which was not bad either.) But I’m sure glad my parents didn’t have a saints-only policy. I love the case you make here for the good old-fashioned way.

  • Linda June

    While Halloween is fun for the pure sake of fun, one really ought not to dismiss the very real and very serious side of it. The satanic network (which is far larger and far more subtle than you can possibly imagine) does, indeed, sacrifice humans on this fabled night. Some of the lesser, more amateurish covens and want-to-be covens sacrifice animals because they don’t know how to get away with murder (yet) like the ancient and refined satanic network does. The real satanic network performs tried and true rituals to summon powerful demons in an effort to obtain from them magical power. Halloween is their highest “holy” day.

    For those who never have suffered under this network, Halloween is great innocent fun, a teaching time for children and all that, but go easy on those folks who choose not to participate, please. They may have reasons you really don’t even want to know about.

  • Linda June

    Add to the above that demons do, in fact, get summoned. They come, they’re real and they’re really bad.

  • Christine

    Just wanted to say it – one Addams to another. Thank you for making me feel a bit more normal.

    I will now wear my marxist Freida Kahlo outfit with pride at the party I am to attend this Saturday.

  • Erin Manning

    We do an All Saint’s Day party. So sue me. Trick or treating is a fun American custom dating back to the early 1930s. It’s never been particularly Catholic–ask any Catholic European. While I have no problem whatsoever with Catholics, Protestants, Muslims, Jews, or anybody else deciding to go trick-or-treating (though, interestingly, a Hindu family in our neighborhood never got into the whole thing), I’m getting pretty sick of the Catholic blogosphere chiding and lecturing those of us who’d rather do the “Saints’ Party” thing on how we’re missing out on the ancient/medieval mystic Catholic rite of ringing doorbells and getting free candy from strangers. Enough, already.

  • JZmirak

    Most of the time, I’m on here defending cooperation and friendliness between Catholics and Evangelicals, especially on political and economic issues–where American Evangelicals and their small-government, decentralist tendencies actually approximate Catholic social teaching much better than the socialist bloviations of our bishops.

    But we have to draw the line somewhere. And I draw it at Halloween. And the liturgy. Let’s end the happy-clappy Masses, and not mold our kids to fit some “Young Life”, squeaky clean, Archie and Veronica image.

    Much as we love our Evangelical neighbors, and can learn from them on some issues, if SOMETHING about us doesn’t creep them out, we’re doing something wrong.

  • Jamie

    I was an evangelical who went trick-or-treating, but our family definitely had reservations about Halloween. Why you ask? Well, for one, evangelicals have no theology of Halloween (All Hallows’ Eve) — none whatsoever. We have the absence of a theology for the day. So, put yourself in my family’s shoes a moment: we were a decent christian people living in a society that acts normal most of the year but suddenly goes all Freddy Krueger and Jason (Friday the 13th) while offering candy to kids. Lot’s of confusing messages there when you have no theology for the day combined with a rational fear of psychopaths, axe murders, and evil spirits (the exuberant celebration of which automatically seems sick and twisted).

    I do not recall *ever* thinking Halloween was a Catholic holiday. I cannot emphasize that point enough. By the way Hollywood and popular culture presented it, many aspects of Halloween appeared to be a bizarre pagan release of suppressed mental and spiritual darkness.

  • Becca Balmes

    My kids, with one exception, won’t let me dress them up as saints, priests, nuns, etc. The oldest is only 4! I think I might be able to convince them, with time and lots of parental enthusiasm, to accept a St. Joan of Arc or St. George, but that’s probably the extent.

    For us, since they’re young yet we tend to stick to heroic archetypes and classic childhood obsessions (we do only homemade costumes)–last year we had a cardboard-box-and-tinfoil robot, a fairy princess, and a mermaid. This year will feature a pteradactyl, a puppy, Mary Queen of Heaven (because our 1 yr old is OBSESSED with a prayer card hanging up in our bedroom), and an octopus (it’s hard to come up with costumes for a baby in a front-carrier).

    In the future, costumes having to do with death (literal or literary) are allowed and we’ll do more scary decorations. My main rule about Halloween costumes is that there will be no pretending to be Satan or devils, objectively evil and real people/creatures, or witches. The last because we have close friends who self-identify as neo-pagan and the relativism issue is therefore a little close to home for our family… I’d rather not use Halloween to explain to our children why “auntie” is wrong about God but doesn’t wear a black hat or fly around on a broomstick! Then you get questions about Harry Potter (which I actually love and think is fine for older kids), and the potential to sorely confuse them is real.

    Vampires, werewolves, Frankenstein’s monsters, etc are allowed (encouraged!) because they are fictional, and cultural shorthand for exploring questions about death, the afterlife, medical ethics, etc. Plus, they give a great opportunity for homeschooling parents to assign classic novels without hearing whining or groans. 😉

  • Charlotte

    Mr. Zmirak,
    You obviously don’t have any children who are extremely sensitive to ghosties, ghoulies and general creepiness and who struggle with nightmares and terrors. Bully for you! For those of us who do, an All Saints Party allows our children the fun of candy and games and celebrations that inspire them instead of terrify them, and follows the order of the liturgical year which does actually begin with celebrating the Church Triumphant before moving on to memorializing the Church Suffering. So please, leave us alone. It would be the charitable thing to do. It has nothing to do with subtle Protestant influence or any kind of moral superiority. Our theology is quite sound, thank you. We will leave a bowl of candy outside for your kind so acts of vandalism need not be encouraged but we politely decline to participate in any other way. As a side note, when that “Veterans Day Parade” of sinners comes marching down my street which soul in Purgatory should Sponge Bob Square Pants inspire me to pray for? The soul of a bad cartoonist or Jacques Cousteau?

  • jacobus

    Really wonderful article, much better than that political stuff you’ve been writing.

  • CK

    My wife an I have been discussing this, and I suggested when the boys enter the inevitable gory stage, they can be something like a headless John the baptist, preferably carrying the head.

  • Sandra

    And I thought I was pretty good explaining that if you dress-up in what you fear, you conquer it, this is MUCH BETTER!

  • Samuel

    good article Doctor. I’m going as the Joker from the recently released The Dark Knight.

  • Dave Pawlak

    – St. Peter of Verona, with scimitar stuck in head…
    – St. Sebastian – arrows, lots of arrows.
    – St. Stephen – dressed as a deacon, but give your friends Nerf balls to throw at you

    – St. Lawrence – scorched dalmatic and meat thermometer glued on

    – St. Benjamin the Deacon – this one would be tricky, as the placement of the wooden stake would be a tad uncomfortable…

  • Tammi

    “What’s a Nice Jewish Girl to do about Halloween?”

  • Ellen

    Kateri Tekawitha. It gave us girls a chance to dress up in Indian garb.

  • Fr Eric

    “This holiday, the night before the Feast of All Saints, has always been our way of confronting the eerie, appalling fact of death — the uncertainty of our individual fates, our powerlessness before the scythe that cuts down the just and unjust alike.”
    Do you really think anyone, Catholics in particular, can make this connection with Halloween? With Mass attendance at less than 25% on a Sunday in the NE? With peyote smoking nuns doing liturgical dance, every Sunday is Halloween for friends in the Pacific NW.

    The numbers are growing for those who make this a satanic/animist/wiccan holiday. It is safe to say the Wiccans will take the Autumn Equinox and a full moon over Easter or Christmas.

    I know quite a few families where the kids dress up as saints. St. Lucy walking around with her eyeballs on a tray works pretty well.

  • trespinos

    I’m extremely lucky not to have been drinking anything when you threw the Annibale Bugnini reference in there. It could have been curtains for my laptop! Great, great piece, Mr. Zmirak. {bows in the author’s direction}

  • Ghoulish Gertie

    Oh, I wanted to be Morticia Addams – she was way better than Lily Munster! – because she wasn’t a shrewish scold; she was hot, and she and Gomez (a mixed marriage!) were totally in love with each other. None of them were cynical (except maybe Lurch?), they were devoid of irony, all were earnest and I loved that family; thanks for pointing out how medievally Catholic they are! Now it all makes sense.

    I think I just figured out my costume for this year.

    (And I agree 100% about the constant protestantizing of Catholics that’s been going on in the past few years! Make it stop.)

  • Andrea

    “Now, I’m very much in agreement that two-year-old children should not be dressed as Satan. For one thing, it’s a little bit too realistic.” HILARIOUS!

  • Marilyn H

    Mr. Zmirak,
    I really enjoy your sense of humor. I think some of the commenters are being a little too sensitive about your pokes at dressing up as saints and angels. Lighten up! Very much enjoyed the analogy of purgatory to a VA hospital after the years of combat as members of the Church militant are over. Excellent.

  • Charlotte

    Well, sorry, Marilyn, but is seems as though there are an awful lot of posts like this one right now taking pot shots and making digs at their fellow Catholics. Humor is truly funny when it doesn’t happen at the expense of others. So, thanks for that.

    And, just for the record, I agree that Mr. Zmirak’s analogy was the best part of his article.

  • Daria Sockey

    I love your making the A-family homeschool connection, and by happy coindence my daughter and I were enjoying this exact episode from our dvd collection the day before your story appeared.

  • Reader John

    I don’t know what you find in Orthodox piety that implies Immaculate Conception. I think y’all need that dogma cuz you insist on explaining the inexplicable.
    Nor do I understand how the bizarre commercialized and stylized thuggery of Halloween enhances your day (only one?) of praying for the Reposed.
    But your spirited defense was amusing, and I wish you a happy All Saints Day.

  • Gail F

    What a great post! So much funny stuff it’s hard to pick (Bugnini??) and much that’s profound also. Halloween is a very American holiday with entirely Christian roots — whatever people say, it has NO pagan basis at all, and certainly is not a 2000-year-old pagan worship of evil that has somehow survived by being celebrated by people who have no idea they are doing it. Does that even make sense? It’s the kind of thing people repeat without knowing what they’re talking about. As a holiday it’s less than 200 years old, although it combines elements from severel European holidays. And no, people do not engage in human sacrifice on Halloween. Finally, I always wanted to dress up as Morticia. Now I know why!

  • John

    Our sacred All Saints Day and the following All Souls Day have been prostituted beyond what is decent by the moder American culture. A day that was celebrated for over a thousand years as a day of recalling to the faithful that the four last things are not far off has been transmogrified into a cheap baccahanal by the pleasure loving Americans and their desire to destroy everything that is sacred in life. The dressing up of chlldren in ridiculous movie inspirted costumes in order to sell things or the dressing young girls up as young tarts cannot be anything but offensive. And the profanity laden dias de mortuous from Mexico has degenerated into a beer selling day for the American bars and liquor companies.

  • JZmirak

    what you find in Orthodox piety that implies Immaculate Conception.

    How about this (emphases mine):

    Hymn to the Theotokos
    (from the Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom)

    It is truly meet to bless you, O Theotokos, who are ever blessed and all-blameless, and the mother of our God. More honourable than the Cherubim, and more glorious beyond compare than the Seraphim, you who without stain barest God the Word, and are truly Theotokos: we magnify you.

    Now, unless one thinks that childbearing is somehow sinful, “without stain” does NOT refer to the manner of her childbearing, but to Mary’s moral state. She is “all blameless” and “without stain.” What are the logical implications of that prayer?

  • Mark Cunningham

    Good stuff, John.

  • Fr. Joshua

    Love it! I’ve been a priest for over a year and was wondering if I had to give up all hallow’s eve. I have tried to explain to people that see my skull bumper sticker that Catholics invented gothic. Reflecting on the ugliness of death and this world compared to the beauty of heaven. That Catholics preach and show Christ crucified in order to show that death has lost its sting. So I am going out to the costume contests tonight in my priest vampire hunter costume. Or technically I am a priest dressed up as a vampire hunter with collar and all. People will figure it out because I’m the only one in costume not making fun of the priesthood. Only real priests do that.

  • Joyful Papist

    NZ doesn’t have much of a tradition of Halloween, but we’ve been picking it up in recent years.

    Our grandchildren have been going in for saints parties since the cultural import started to take hold – but we certainly haven’t expected them to forgoe the gruesome. St Stephen with arrows is pretty good; a favourite so far was St Peter Chanel, complete with axe through the skull (a bit tricky keeping the hat on). We’ve had a Joan, with cellophane flames licking up from the bottom of her skirt, and a (short) stake tied to her back. And if you’re happy to go Old Testament, Judith covered in blood carrying Holofernes head is a lot of fun. The best part is seeing them reading up on the lives of the saints, even if it is just to see what horror they can find. No-one has suggested St Agatha yet.

    I enjoyed your points in favour of the gruesome and ghastly – and look forward to trying them on my evangelical relatives.

  • JZmirak

    I’ve noticed a statement in L’Osservatore Romano on this subject, which I think I should link to here:

    The Vatican is right to try to stop American customs from displacing the native French, Italian, Spanish customs of celebrating the holiday. In Italy, Halloween American style is displacing an existing All Saints tradition–so it’s a negative development. In America, if we suppressed Halloween, it would be replaced by…nothing at all. I think that here, in OUR cultural context, we should keep it creepy AND make it more theological. Various commentors here had the idea of dressing kids as martyrs–complete with gory implements of their deaths. Brilliant! I wish I’d thought of it myself.

  • Suzanne

    There is plenty of room for legitimate disagreement on this subject. I get upset when I see articles where one set of Catholics with one mindset decide to belittle through mocking humor Catholics of another mindset. Not all of us who dislike Halloween do so because of some presumed historical “ties to ancient paganism.” (I dislike it because of what it has become today, and I think our culture uses it celebrate to celebrate the evil and macabre, not as a momento mori.)

    Let’s respect our fellow Catholics who are trying to pray and reason their way through the cultural decisions they make for their individual families. How about I don’t call those of you participating in trick-or-treat “evil pagans” if you don’t call those of my mindset “Puritans” for opting out of Halloween for for All Saints Day celebrations instead? There is no need for divisiveness or being insulting.

  • JZmirak

    Hey, I didn’t mean to insult anybody’s “parenting styles.” But I emphatically DON’T think it’s our job as Catholics to walk around on eggshells trying not to hurt each other’s feelings by saying what we think. This is a Church for adults trying to evangelize the world and defeat its enemies, not a Girl Scouts meeting intent on keeping the shyest girl from bursting into tears. We live in a world of sharp elbows, which requires thick skins. I consider myself called to “callousness training,” helping people develop those necessary callouses by rubbing them, energetically, with sandpaper.

  • JZmirak

    Or lazy journalism, anyway:

  • J de la Cruz

    If you’re feeling puckish, it’s in much better taste to dress up your kids as Osama bin Laden, Annibale Bugnini, or some other of the Evil One’s lesser minions. If you must dress your boys as saints, choose military martyrs, canonized crusaders, or patriarchs from the Old Testament. One suggestion I made as editor of the Feasts and Seasons section of Faith & Family magazine was this: Dress up your daughters as early Roman martyrs, like Agnes and Agatha, and your sons as the Roman soldiers, gladiators, and lions that sent them to heaven. Stock up on lots of fake blood for the girls’ machine-washable tunics, and let the games begin! (Alas, this idea never saw print.)


  • Anthony

    “Whereever the Catholic sun doth shine
    There is love and laughter and good red wine”

    I think Belloc would not be trilled with the commercialization of Halloween, but would have enjoyed the day (especially the children running around shouting BOO!)smilies/wink.gif

  • Clinton

    I don’t have a problem with All Saints Day or with Halloween celebrating the Victory of Christ and the Saints over evil. In fact, I love this feast of the Church! But when you’re telling me the commercialization of Halloween is a great thing, sorry I don’t agree. You are suggesting that kids dress up as Osama or one of the Evil One’s lesser minions, even Lucifer himself! What message are you sending these kids? Do you think they are thinking of Christ and the Church and His victory over sin and death? Or are they being led to think that expressions of evil in jest are alright? (like some kids destroyed my friend’s pumpkins this Halloween, put toilet paper all over his yard and destroyed his mail box…who knows for what reason? He just moved there maybe…what is this Evangelical friend of mine going to think about Halloween and Christianity?) Or what about Charlotte above who mentioned dreams and nightmares that kids have?

    In the end, how does Halloween as we celebrate today reflect Paul’s injunction: ” Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable