This “Hallowed” Season

19 Oct

I don’t know about you, but I’m a little “halloweened” out–and the holiday is still nearly two weeks away!

All the same, since it’s not only a cultural phenomenon but even more importantly the eve of All Saints Day (“Halloween,” after all, is an abbreviation of “All Hallows’ Eve”), we can’t simply ignore it. I recommend this tract on Halloween for those who want to know more about the history of this day.

As for me, I’ve always been a little low-key about Halloween because it’s the birthday of a dear brother of mine who died when I was a teenager. Further, “trick or treating” was never an issue when my family lived in Steubenville, as we usually had multiple “All Saints Day” events to choose from that were both fun and reflective of the religious roots of the holiday.

Now for the past four years we have lived in a good community here in Kansas, but not a Catholic enclave like Steubenville, so we’ve been figuring out anew what to do about Halloween. We decided early on to participate in the neighborhood festivities, but we do what we can to ”re-baptize” the holiday.

For one thing, my kids still dress up as religious figures. So far we have had a priest, a Franciscan, St. Raymond of Penyafort, Moses, St. Elizabeth of Hungary, and Our Lady of Guadalupe, among others, with a couple other saints still in the making. The idea is that the kids need to be ready to explain who they are to others, which isn’t far removed from evangelizing their peers.

I will again dutifully give out treats (yes, that makes me a sugar daddy, I suppose!). One year I gave out second treats to those who could recite from memory a Scripture verse or answer a basic question about the Christian faith. Another year I gave out holy cards along with the candy. I’d like to try something new this year to keep things fresh, so I’d be interested in hearing our readers’ ideas and traditional practices when it comes to Halloween.

6 Responses to “This “Hallowed” Season”

  1. john0653 October 21, 2011 at 7:01 pm #

    I’d be interested to see saints costumes. I’ve thought about them before for my kids, but I always think of the saints as pretty much indistinguishable from everyone else. Yes, they led holy lives, but what fun is it to dress up as someone who looks ordinary? Perhaps I’m plagued with a lack of imagination.

  2. Leon Suprenant October 22, 2011 at 1:03 am #

    John, check out this site for a small family business that makes really nice religious-themed costumes: http://www.ourcoatsofmanycolors.com/main.sc

    Of course you can also find used costumes various places or make your own. I’ve seen many a makeshift Kateri Tekakwitha costumes, including some that looked suspiciously like the Pocahontas costume I saw in the store!

  3. john0653 October 23, 2011 at 7:17 am #

    Thanks. I’m trying to get on board with this, but I think that somewhat proves my point. The difference between many of those saints seem to be the color of their tunic and drape. With the same costume they could pretty much be one of any number of saints. Perhaps they might still have fun as a generic saint.

    I guess the saints have more interesting lives, but more ordinary costumes, while the other Halloween characters have more interesting costumes but shallow, one-dimensional lives. There’s got to be a way to reclaim the culture, but I’m not quite sure about this way yet.

    • Leon Suprenant October 24, 2011 at 3:34 pm #

      John,

      I see your point. But notice the CCC in its definition of the “communion of saints” doesn’t limit itself to the saints in heaven or even to all believers, but includes all “holy things.”

      I think there’s an analogy here. Of course some things that one might wear to a secular Halloween party or Mardi Gras celebration would be off limits at a “Catholic-themed costume party”–and rightly so. But we don’t all have to dress up as the Pope, Kateri Tekakwitha, or a generic Franciscan either (though there is considerable variety among various religious attire).

      Here’s just a quick handful of ideas, realizing I’m not even as creative as most when it comes to this sort of thing: “pew Catholic” with a cardboard pew attached to one’s back, Notre Dame football player, human bingo card, various biblical characters, an empty tomb, stone tablets, a group could go as Rosary beads or as the apostles, Christopher Columbus or some other explorer or a 4th degree K of C, a Catechism of the Catholic Church, a Catholic answer man, a fish, etc. etc.

      I think a collection of “Catholic things”–some serious, some more lighthearted (but never sacriligious) builds Catholic identity in a fun context and even has a gentle evangelistic and catechetical component.

  4. john0653 October 31, 2011 at 6:03 pm #

    I think there’s some potential there. I agree it’s important to reclaim a Catholic identity and culture.

    • Leon Suprenant October 31, 2011 at 6:40 pm #

      As it’s turning out, I have one son dressing up as a cardinal (Burke, not Pujols!) and another son is going as Padre Pio. He has a Franciscan habit, and he’s using lipstick and an old soccer sock for the stigmata. We also got some rose-scented hand lotion for him, so that, at least for the evening, he has the “odor of sanctity.”

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