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Halloween – All Saints – All Souls

All Saints

I read that in USA, it is expected people will spend $US 9 Billion. With the Americanisation of NZ, I’ve noticed many people in different places dressed up for Halloween – and that started about a dozen days before Halloween. Just as for Christmas, in NZ many would see the dozen days leading up to Christmas as “The Twelve Days of Christmas” (a sort of secular intense Advent), so it seems there is a copy-and-paste “preparation” for Halloween developing, a sort of “Twelve Days of Halloween” culminating in Halloween itself.

It is time to put the ‘Hallow’ back into ‘Halloween’.

Halloween, All Saints, and All Souls forms a triduum (three days of liturgical observance). ‘Halloween’ is a contraction of ‘All Hallows’ Eve’ (the ‘eve’, the day before All Hallows – All Saints). This triduum can be a celebration of past, present, and future Eternal Life in Christ. [Día de los Muertos, literally, the Day of the Dead, is a Mexican celebration on All Hallows’ Eve spreading from Mexico through USA and beyond – including within church celebrations.]

Some communities will celebrate All Saints’ on Sunday. Others will celebrate it on Thursday, November 1st.

ALMIGHTIE God, whiche haste knitte together thy electe in one Communion and felowship, in the misticall body of thy sonne Christe our Lord; graunt us grace so to folow thy holy Saynctes in all virtues, and godly livyng, that we maye come to those inspeakeable joyes, whiche thou hast prepared for all them that unfaynedly love thee; through Jesus Christe. (Thomas Cranmer, 1549)

I suggest we can begin recovering some of our All Hallows’ Eve tradition by having an All Saint’s Vigil (Halloween).

I am not in favour of the recent Church of England practice of counting from All Saints’ Day backwards to Advent: The Fourth Sunday before Advent, The Third Sunday before Advent,… Nor am I in favour of the NZ Anglican mimicking of Mummy England and making liturgical Red an optional alternative to Green at this time [“Oh – we’ve had Green long enough now – what colour haven’t we used much this year?…”] There are other ways of changing the texture of services that acknowledges a change in the weather (to Spring or Autumn).

Further resources and reflections:

All Saints Reflection
All Souls Resources
Halloween & All Saints
All Saints – Beatitudes
A Great Cloud of Witnesses
Kontakion of the Departed – All Souls

Please add your ideas and resources in the comments below.

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3 thoughts on “Halloween – All Saints – All Souls”

  1. I’m in Texas now, so we do commemorate Dia de Los Muertos. And one of my neighbours lost her brother just last weekend so we sat up one evening watching his videos, singing his songs and put out the traditional crysanthemums. The local children came out to sing for her and give hugs and little drawings.

    It happened the same way in UK, Halloween, once Wal-Mart bought out one of the national supermarkets, suddenly the children were buying overpriced commercial costumes and we were handing out sweets and stuff.

    When I was a child growing up in England we did Bonfire Night, not Halloween, a rather macabre celebration I guess in that it commemorates the failed attempt to blow up the Houses of Parliament in 1605 https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Guy_Fawkes_Night and the subsequent hanging of the criminal.

    As children we would make a stuffed effigy with old clothes and put it on a bonfire, asking ‘penny for the Guy…’ then even that turned more commercial with the sale of fireworks.

    There would be no Protestant churches without Thomas Cranmer I don’t think, he was the man who negotiated Henry V111’s divorce though he isn’t often given much credit for The Reformation. But he wrote the original new liturgies for the Church of England.

    As you know : )

    Beautiful writing.

    1. There would be plenty of Reformed and Lutheran Churches without Thomas Cranmer, not to mention the protesting churches in the West that predate the Reformation; the Moravian Church is one.

  2. Thanks David. I haven’t seen any historic documentation on the Moravian Church before the 1800s, they don’t seem to have kept records, though I am sure I would approve of them since they based their religion on Sermon on the Mount!

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