Being Christians, Catholic Christians, should we celebrate Halloween? Is this "ghosts and goblins, witches and spooks" holiday one we should avoid or is there some value in it for us Christians?
Halloween actually has dual origins. The first being a pre-Christian Celtic feast which is associated with the Celtic New Year. The Christian aspect of the holiday is the second. Pope Gregory IV, in 835, changed the celebration for martyrs (and later all saints) from May 13th to November 1st. All Saints Day is a holy day of obligation where we honor all saints, not just those canonized. Saints and holy people are called "hallowed" in England, thus All Saints Day is known as "All Hallow's Day." The evening before "All Hallow's Eve" or "holy evening." Later this was shortened to "Halloween." All Souls Day is celebrated on November 2nd. The church's reason for these feasts is to remember those who have died, whether canonized or not. We celebrate the "communion of saints," reminding us that the church is truly one and not limited to time or space.
For more about Halloween's origins, read Halloween: Its Origins and Celebration - a very informative article from the EWTN Library.
Another very detailed resource is the article, Ideas for Sanctifying Halloween, All Saints Day and All Souls Day found on the Catholic Culture website. Author Jennifer Miller gives an outline and time frame for planning a truly Christian Hallowe'en party, a sample invitation, recipes, prayers, as well as a history of All Hallow's Eve and more.
Halloween or All Hallow's Eve Activities - also found on Catholic Culture offers a good description of the Christian origin of Halloween and traditions of the holiday.
As Christians we can not only celebrate this holiday, but take advantage of the occasion to educate our children (and even ourselves!) about All Saints Day and All Souls Day by focusing on the Christian origin of October 31st. One idea is to have your children dress up as saints instead of ghosts and witches. Teach them about the saint they've chosen. Together research that saint's life and make their costume. It's a great opportunity to make this a real family affair.
Illustrated Lives of the Saints - Reference book on the lives of the saints.
Peace in Christ,