Growing up Protestant, Halloween was confusing. Our church had a party on Halloween called a “Victory Party” so that families in the church wouldn’t have to participate. My family always rejected costumes that involved devils or scary creatures (I’m pretty sure one year I was literally an angel, so…). When I became Catholic, I saw that Halloween preceded All Saints Day and thought that this was some dichotomous coincidence (a pretty weird and sometimes evil holiday, followed by a Holy Day). However, after reading up a bit on the topic, I realized that Halloween is truly a CATHOLIC HOLIDAY!
In this amazing article from Word on Fire, the priest connects Mardi Gras and Halloween (originally called “All Hallows Eve”). He connects the secularization of both holidays and the loss of the original meaning of both days. He also connects the “celebration” before a solemn feast. Halloween should be about victory over death. Halloween is like the Christmas Eve for All Saints Day! It should be a preparation to celebrate the saints of the Church and the souls of the faithful. It should help us remember the natural and supernatural. All Hallows Eve should inspire us to ask for the intercession of the Saints and remember that they intercede for us.
Dia De Los Muertes
I was also confused about the Day of the Dead (Dia de los Muertes), another celebration that happens this time of year. Obviously, growing up Protestant, we never prayed for the dead. I would see those awesome painted skulls (called calaveras) and just think it was some weird cultural tradition. Celebrating Dia de los Muertes is a cultural reality for most Latin American countries, and especially Mexico. But, it also has deep, Catholic roots.
During the celebrations, which begin on October 31, the dead are honored with food, parties, and hobbies they enjoyed when they were alive. People put up pictures of their deceased relatives to remember them. It brings to mind the phrase, “Momento Mori”: “Remember Your Death“. Dia de los Muertes helps to remember those souls who have passed away. But, it also reminds us of the life we have now and the importance of living it for the Lord.
In popular culture, we see calaveras EVERYWHERE around this time of year. Now we also have the awesome movie Coco to celebrate this part of the collection of celebrations (if you haven’t seen Coco, you must see it!). National Geographic has a slideshow of some gorgeous photos from Dia de Los Muertes here.
So, as we approach this awesome cluster of really cool Holy Days and celebrations, remember that Halloween is a Catholic holiday! Maybe share this with your friends who are hesitant about Halloween and Dia de Los Muertes. Maybe they’r like me and have some pretty ingrained beliefs from childhood. Why not put out some photos and items that belonged to your deceased relatives this Halloween? Maybe make some food that they loved, to help “Remember Your Death” and to celebrate their souls.
Also, get pumped for our huge All Saints Day sale (our Black Friday) where everything in the shop will be on sale! Don’t miss out on this opportunity to grab all your favorites and get some holiday shopping done early. Visit our website to make your list!