How Should Catholics Approach Halloween?

How Should Catholics Approach Halloween?

This month, I’ve been talking about our Blessed Mother, but today I want to talk to you about a different topic, namely Halloween, which is commonly celebrated on the 31st of October. Often, Catholics will say, ‘Oh all of these ghosts, witches and skulls and costumes based on these things are evil, we should stay away from all this’, and on the other hand, other Catholics will say, ‘I have faith in God, so I’m not scared to celebrate anything’. Let me offer you a middle ground by telling you a little of the history of Halloween.

As Catholics, we celebrate All Saints’ Day on the 1st of November, and All Souls’ Day on the 2nd. If you’re Catholic, I’m assuming you know this and are planning to go for the Mass on both these days. All Saints’ Day used to also be called ‘All Hallows’ Day’ because both words are ultimately the same, like we say in the Our Father, either “may Your Name be held holy”, or “hallowed be Thy Name.” The meaning is the same.

Another thing to keep in mind is that in the Church, we have the concept of eves and vigil Masses, like how we go on Saturday evening for Sunday Mass. Just like this, people can also go for Mass on the evening before All Saints’ Day, i.e. on 31st October and it used to be called ‘All Hallows’ Eve’. That’s where the idea and celebration of Halloween came from. It was our own celebration, not something started by some Freemasons to encourage demonic activity or something. So with this understanding of this day, I don’t think the celebration of the day in itself is wrong. That being said, let’s talk about some practicalities.

Although the origin of this festival has some Christian roots, today’s reality in the West is that it has become an excuse for all kinds of nonsense: sexual promiscuity, drinking and drugs, improper clothing, and even occult practices. All of these are obviously wrong and especially with that last one regarding the occult. Yes, the devil is real, and I don’t think I have to explain why you shouldn’t play around with him. In India, Halloween is not really a public affair, but young people do dress up in their costumes and go for parties and all. Whether it’s a Halloween party or any other kind of party, the usual reasoning and prudence will apply. But the question is, is it okay to dress up as ghosts and witches and skeletons? Or is there some danger in that?

It’s a complicated question: the answer is ‘maybe’. Some people might dress up like that for the sheer thrill of it, or to scare others or something else, and that might not be the best intention. But dressing like that can also serve as a reminder of our mortality. It can remind us of the souls in Heaven or Purgatory, and that even we will die and one day be judged by God. But remember that what matters is not just intention, but also context: whatever intention you’re wearing a particular costume with, will it be obvious to the people around you as well? That’s also something worth considering.

I want to end with a small suggestion that I’ve seen on various Catholic social media pages. Halloween was originally meant to commemorate the saints, so if you’re going to celebrate it, why not do the same? Dress up as a saint! I’ve seen so many adorable pictures on Instagram of children dressed up as Mother Teresa or the Pope, and you can do something like that as well. There are some pretty “spooky” saints too, by the way! If you don’t know what I’m talking about, just Google St. Denis. In any case, by dressing up as a saint, you don’t just keep your Faith intact, but you can also celebrate it publicly and maybe you’ll even get an opportunity for sharing the Good News.

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One thought on “How Should Catholics Approach Halloween?”

  • Halloween has nothing to do with the Catholic Church and its teachings as you rightly said it was celebrated to commerate All Saint’s Day. The concept of dressing up for it is purely cultural which keeps deteriorating by the year. Just another reason to party and make merry. Just like our church parishes in Mumbai are turning into a Parting Christians Club where everyone is singing, dancing and making merry. Crowds don’t show up for retreats and prayer services like they do for parties and DJ Nights. We need to stop dancing every month and revisit the teachings of the church. Community gatherings and bonding is needed and are ok twice a year but every second week is not good.


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