Virtually everyone knows that the word “Halloween” is derived from “All Hallow’s Eve”. What is less-commonly remembered is that this is a real Church holiday: the Eve of all the Hallowed Ones – that is, of All Saints. Yes, in the liturgical tradition All Hallows Eve is a real thing, it is the beginning of the All Saints celebration!
This doesn’t mean you need to be a party-pooper and boycott all vestiges of secular Halloween – the costumes, the candy, walking the neighborhood, all of these can be great family fun. However much you do or do not take part in these activities, they can be a launch point and reminder for celebrating this church holiday. Candy and sweets are one of many ways that we can “feast” on a feast day.
As the evening quiets down, think about the costumes you saw today and what variety of saints the Church has enjoyed in years past. Saw some superheros? Take a moment to think about some of the “superheros” of the faith like Ignatius of Antioch, Martin Luther, or any number of the 19th century missionary martyrs. Saw some children dressed up as doctors, train engineers, or other professions? Take a moment to think about the saints who came from various walks of life – not just the lofty kings, bishops and monastics, but also Mary Magdalene with her colorful past, Caedmon the farmer-poet, or Florence Nightingale the nurse of great renown. Granted, not all costumes can be so fruitfully inspiring (I’ve seen some truly obscene items out there, without even getting into the “sexy” versions of various outfits), but make use of what you can.
And, of course, don’t forget to pull up the All Saints Collect of the Day at Evening Prayer tonight!