…but you’d never know it when walking down the street in October, seeing houses gaudily strewn with fake spiderwebs, skeletons, and repulsive cadavers. Some Christians have considered withdrawing totally from this “holiday,” since it seems like the domain of the devil.
But the proper celebration of Halloween is very much a part of Catholic tradition.
Halloween is another word for “All Hallows’ Eve”—the eve of All Saints’ Day. In the old Church calendar, the Vigil of All Saints was a liturgical event. It had its own Mass, where the priest would vest in penitential purple, the usual color for vigils. He would don white in the evening for the First Vespers of All Saints, which marked the beginning of the Church’s celebration of this great holy day.
Together, the Vigil (October 31st), the Feast of All Saints (November 1st), and the Commemoration of All Souls (November 2nd) formed a comprehensive picture of the Catholic view of the afterlife.
Then, there are the Vespers of the Dead—sometimes called “Black Vespers,” since the priest would vest in black, the color of death and mourning. These Vespers were not officially said on Halloween, but rather after Second Vespers on All Saints’ Day, looking toward All Souls’ Day. In the Catholic region of Brittany, a devotion developed of saying these Vespers on Halloween itself. It seems these Breton folk were quite solemn on Halloween and kept the importance of praying for the dead at the forefront of their Vigil doings.
In the British Isles, festive All Hallows’ Eve traditions arose that will sound familiar to you. Children would go door-to-door begging for a “soul cake” and promising in return to pray for the deceased of the giver’s family. The Halloween tradition of dressing up is also potentially connected with this custom (pictured below: an excellent Halloween/All Saints costume—St. Michael!).
Because of her Protestant leanings, Queen Elizabeth I forbade the traditions associated with All Souls’ Day. But these customs escaped her anti-Catholic, anti-fun edicts and have made their way down the centuries to us today.
In the spirit of fall and Halloween, let’s embrace the warmth and joy of this beautiful season! Settle in with a good book, some cozy fall décor, and a good cup of coffee! At The Catholic Company, we have a great collection of Christ and Coffee Coasters that make the perfect addition to a cozy fall day! Great as an addition to your fall décor or as a gift for a friend, these coasters will bring the joy and beauty of Catholicism into every day! Get yours today at The Catholic Company!