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Halloween & All Saints

all-saints

Halloween is a shortening of All Hallows Eve, the Eve of All Hallows, All Saints. Christians traditionally start celebrating a significant festival on the eve of the feast. A good example is Christmas Eve. All Saints is now often regarded as such an important feast that it is moved to Sunday so that it can be celebrated when most Christians gather together. This Sunday All Saints Sunday is also Halloween, the eve of All Saints.

Eastern churches celebrate All Saints on the first Sunday after Pentecost.

The first All Saints’ Day occurred on May 13, 609 (C.E.) when Boniface IV, bishop of Rome, accepted the Pantheon as a gift from the Emperor Phocas. This became the Church of Santa Maria Rotonda, honouring the Blessed Virgin and all martyrs. In the time of Gregory III (731-741), this began to include all the saints and a chapel in St. Peter’s church was so dedicated. Gregory IV further expanded this celebration in 837.

collect/opening prayer reflection All Saints Sunday October 31 and November 1

Obviously the collect is for the feast day – not for the week following, during which the collect for the Sunday this replaces is used

All Saints’ Vigil (Halloween)

Textweek resources

Readings

My reflection on All Saints – the Beatitudes

2009 reflection

Please add your own ideas, resources, hymns, prayers, etc. in the comments section.

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7 Responses to Halloween & All Saints

  1. Here in Mexico, the commemoration of the lives of the dead that have been celebrated for thousands of years by indigenous religions, have been transferred to 1 & 2 NOV. 1 NOV is dedicated to infants and small children and is called el Dia de los Inocentes (the Day of the Innocents) or el Dia de los Angelitos (the Day of the Little Angels). 2 NOV is el Dia de los Muertos (the Day of the Dead) and commemorates departed teens and adults.

    These are days of celebration and have many traditions attached to the celebrations. Some believe that the souls of the dead return to visit on these days. Families sometimes prepare well in advance for the parties.

    If the deceased have graves, the family goes to the cemetery and cleans up the grave. If it is a tomb where the body has decayed away but the bones remain, they may even open the tomb and wash and then return the bones. The graves and tombs may be decorated, especially with yellow marigolds, believed to attract the return of the soul.

    Families also build altars in their homes and in the cemeteries and decorate them with religious statutes, photos and other momentos of their loved ones, as well as offer gifts for the deceased; their favorite foods and beverages, fruit, and little candies made in the shape of skulls and skeletons. Or Pan de Muerte, which is are pastries made this time of year which have long bone-shaped dough and sugar sprinkled across the tops. This often replaces the regular pan dulces (sweet bread) that Mexicans traditionally eat with morning coffee in late OCT and NOV. (7-11 is selling them with the donuts this time of year!)

  2. There’s always a lot of discussion at this time about Hallowe’en (the seculkar feast) being a time of darkness and even Satanism. I’d been sceptical about this, but was recently speaking to a member of our church who had lived in the US for some time. She said it was REALLY dark over there, with toddlers dressing as the devil and stuff like that.

  3. Here in San Clemente California..we are celebrating All Saints Sunday on Halloween…as the Vigil for All Saints…and Bishop Mary Glaspool will be coming for our bilingual…celebration of Dia de Los Muertos…Tuesday…All Souls…in the evening. The Spanish component to our community and friends will put together our “ofrenda de muertos”…sunday afternoon after the Spanish Mass…and Potluck! These are festive times…and those who fear these celebrations as “pagan”…or “secular”…are so wrong..like Carnival…and Shrove Tuesday…and Ash Wednesday…they all melt together into one wonderful celebration of Life and Death….the heart of our faith in the Paschal Mystery!

  4. @Ed — Hello from the US. For what it’s worth, for every toddler who dresses as the devil (I’ve never seen one myself), there are plenty more who dress up as princesses and bumblebees. I can only speak for my experience, but Halloween is one of those things you can make as dark as you care to. So, not to discount your parishioner’s report, but it’s assuredly not the whole story. 🙂

  5. Henri Nouwen has a great 3 or 4 pages in his book “Gracias! A Latin American Journal” describing the traditions of the Day of the Dead. I really appreciated how he explained the melding of the indigenous traditions and the Catholic traditions.

  6. Growing up my parents did not allow me or my brother to celebrate any holiday on that day even though they have a Hispanic heritage. But as I grew up I have seen that its merely a cultural experience and really think the religious overtones have faded.

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About This Site Welcome to this ecumenical website of resources and reflections on liturgy, spirituality, and worship for individuals and communities. It is run by Rev. Bosco Peters.

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