Halloween is a lot like the Christmas season.
There are a number of different groups of people celebrating around the same time for different reasons. Just like at Christmas time, there are a number of different religious holidays and observances that take place around Christmas time and it’s important to know what you are and are not celebrating.
Today is, for us Catholics, All Souls’ Day. It’s a day when we remember and pray for the dead. Tomorrow is All Saints’ Day, when we go to Mass and celebrate the Communion of Saints. Pagan sects such as Wiccans also observe this day, but for other reasons. Satanists, or so I’m told because I have not researched this, also observe this day for their own reasons. Our observance of this day is not an endorsement of their observances nor are theirs an endorsement of ours.
****** Update: All Souls’ Day is November 2nd. Oops.
Just like around Christmas time, the majority of regular people partake in the fun of the Halloween season that surrounds the observances and traditions, some of them pagan, some of them Christian in origin. Most people who observe Christmas observe it this way — it’s not a particularly religious holiday for them, but they enjoy the fun and tradition associated with the season.
Halloween is like that for us — we enjoy some of the fun of trick-or-treating, carving pumpkins, and dressing up in costumes but do not subscribe to any of the religious belief that originated the traditions.
Halloween should be fun and, as long as you know which things you are actually celebrating and which things are just secularized fun, it is not “against our religion” like some kids at school will tell you.
But there is one real gift of Halloween to give praise for. A long time ago, people were in real fear of their lives on All Hallow’s Eve or Halloween. Today is is mostly just fun.
The fact that we can scare ourselves for fun, the fact that we can confront demons and ghosts and laugh at them, the fact that we don’t *really worry* that a disembodied soul will take our body on All Hallow’s Eve, is a testament to the reassurance and protection our faith gives us. We know that as long as God is real, these things hold no power over us. We have the luxury of laughing at death for one night a year.
So it’s okay to dress up on Halloween as someone or something else — as long as we are firm in the knowledge of who and what we really are.