Many families have their doubts about celebrating Halloween. For some, the practice of trick-ortreating is seen as yet another invasion by American culture. For others, the association with pagan ritual is viewed as inappropriate and even dangerous for children. In fact, Halloween has deep Christian roots, dating back to the eighth century, when Pope Gregory III established All Hallows (known to us as All Saints Day) on November 1st. This was to be a day to honour all the saints who died with or without Church recognition. All Souls Day follows on November 2nd and is a time in which we pray for all the dead, including our own special friends and family.
Light, long a symbol of life in Jesus, was used on ‘Halloween’ (meaning ‘All Hallows’ Eve’) to welcome good spirits and ward off evil ones. Candles were lit and placed inside hollowed-out squash, turnips, or later, after the discovery of America, pumpkins. Children, wearing masks, would go ‘souling’ from door to door, begging for soul cakes for the those in purgatory.
Unfortunately, Halloween also coincides with a pagan festival honouring the God of the dead where customs intended to appease evil spirits, avoid hauntings and foretell the future are common. These customs and other occult practices can confuse children and should be discouraged.
Here is a document that provides information and tips for Catholic Families and Halloween.