In this article, we’re going to talk about whether Catholics can celebrate Halloween or not. Around October, we start getting a lot of questions such as: Can Catholics celebrate Halloween? Can Catholics participate in it? Can they just go trick or treating? And so, in this article, we’re going to be answering these questions.
Yes. Catholics can celebrate Halloween, BUT with some qualifications.
But first, what is Halloween and why can we celebrate it? First, because Halloween is actually a Christian holiday called “All Hallows Eve”. It’s the Eve of All Saints Day. We celebrate All Saints Day on November 1st, and the eve before, we celebrate: The eve of all Hallows. This is a long-standing tradition in the Church going back to the Middle Ages or even further back when Catholics celebrated a feast day starting the night before.
The Latin word Sanctus is where we get the word “Saint”. But in German, which English derives from, the word “Hallow” means “Saint”. And you can even hear this in the Our Father prayer: Father, hallowed be thy name, which means, Holy be thy name. And this is what Catholics say about Saints because we call them the Holy ones, the Hallowed ones, or the ones who live for God, the ones who are set apart for God and his work.
So, we celebrate the Saints, their Legacy, how they lived for Christ, their inspirational lives, and how they gave up everything for Jesus. The inspirational lives that they live to die for Jesus and give everything for him. They lived some of the most heroic stories in history and so, we celebrate their lives on November 1st, and we celebrate the eve of all Hallows, the night before, which is Halloween.
Now, some people are very shocked by me saying that we can celebrate this, because they state that this Christian holiday came from a Pagan holiday, and in their opinion, it is really just a Pagan holiday in disguise. Jehovah’s Witnesses and many Evangelical Protestant religions (usually only in the Protestant religions, especially in some of the more extremist ones) say that you can’t celebrate these holidays because they come from paganism. But this is 100% inaccurate. It’s not true.
Christmas and Easter don’t come from paganism. They are Christian holidays. One celebrates the birth of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the other celebrates his resurrection, his glory and him conquering sin and death. Nothing to do with paganism. And the same thing with Halloween as well. We can go way back until like the earliest centuries of Christianity, the first few hundred years, Christians were already celebrating and honoring the lives of the martyrs. Those who died for Jesus. They would celebrate their heroic faith.
And even down through the centuries, until about the 700s, Pope Gregory III established All Saints Day on November 1st, to remember all the Saints. And this wasn’t a worldwide holiday yet. That would be about 60 years later, Pope Gregory IV would make it a universal feast day in the Catholic Church, where everybody celebrates and calls to mind all of the Saints, and the inspirational Holy lives that they lived. So, as you can see, this has nothing to do with Paganism. A lot of the connections that people try to make between the Christian holiday and the Pagan holiday just don’t exist. Moreover, most of the customs that we have here in the United States have also no connection to Paganism or very little. They really have to do with the ancient feast day of the Catholic Church.
But, of course, not everything about Halloween is celebrated that way. Much of it has become secularized. Just as St. Valentine’s Day has been hijacked by our culture. St. Patrick’s Day has been hijacked by our culture. Christmas and Easter have been hijacked by our culture. They have perverted the true meaning of these religious feasts. It is up to us, as Christians, to remember the religious feast and not to get caught up solely, or primarily, in the modern secular celebration of these things.
And obviously the powers of darkness try to claim this night for themselves as well. We know that Satanists love to perform rituals, graveyards, and other dark things like that. There’s a lot of death, ghosts, ghouls, goblins, blood, devils and Ouija boards. All of that darkness comes out on October 31st, but that is a secular, or even a dark, celebration of what Halloween truly is. They may be celebrating one thing, but as Christians, we are celebrating something completely different. And there’s nothing wrong with that. And in fact, there’s nothing inherently wrong with getting dressed up or going out, and getting candy for yourselves. And this is one way we could celebrate the feast of All Saints.
So, while trick-or-treating can be fun, and it can be a good time to celebrate with family and friends, there are definitely things we don’t recommend, and that we should not, and cannot participate in, and that’s really having anything to do with the dark side. So, we shouldn’t be dressing up as witches, the devil, ghosts, goblins, ghouls, etc. We shouldn’t be decorating our house with themes of death and destruction, with ghosts and possession, Ouija boards, decorations of people dying and blood everywhere etc. That’s not from God, that’s from the world. That’s from Satanism, that’s from the dark side.
We are celebrating, and we have to remember this, we are celebrating the light. We are celebrating the resurrection, the inspirational lives the Saints lived, and we are celebrating Jesus Christ himself, who is the king of All Saints.
So it’s okay to carve pumpkins if you want to, there’s nothing inherently wrong about that. There’s nothing wrong with dressing up and being imaginative. But yet, we should not only participate in the secular activities without any celebration and understanding of what the feast day is actually about: The Saints. So, we should take time on that eve to tell stories of the Saints. Many parents love to tell their kids Saints stories, and they can read together as a family to inspire them through the Saints lives. Many of them even have them dress up as Saints for Halloween, or maybe as an angel or something of the light. Others maybe like to go to Mass and instruct their kids what the Feast Day is about. I mean, imagine doing Christmas or Easter and you don’t ever go to Church, you don’t ever pray, and you don’t ever spend any time celebrating what the Feast Day is about. It’s an abomination. It’s a tragedy. We don’t want to do that. We want to focus and teach our kids what the Feast Day is about.
I remember back in the day, a priest used to open up the Church and a lot of us teenagers, college kids and people who were instructing them, used to go to adoration for about an hour. And then after that, we would have a party downstairs with food and candy, and we would all celebrate Jesus Christ and the Saints. Sometimes we would even have a costume party, even at the Church after adoration, where we would get dressed up or we’d have a dance or do something fun together. We would be in a community celebrating Jesus Christ, the Saints, and having a good time with each other as well. I know priests who open up the Churches for prayer or just for trick or treating there, telling kids Saints stories. So, there are ways to celebrate this holiday, that are religious.
So the bottom line is, it’s not just a frivolous, mindless night of candy and fun, that has nothing to do with the Saints. We can celebrate Halloween, but we should, and really have to, celebrate the Catholic side of it. We have to remember what all Hallows Eve is: The eve of the Hallowed ones or the Holy ones, the Saints. As Catholics, we should not miss this opportunity to tell our kids about the Saints, to read some stories with them, to go to Church, to say a rosary together, to do something special, as a reminder of their Holy Lives and of our call to holiness, of how we must follow in their path in imitating Christ to perfection.
So, can you celebrate Halloween? Absolutely. Can you celebrate the deeds of darkness, death, destruction and evil. No. And we should absolutely not do that. Can we celebrate the Saints, the Holy ones, the loved ones? Can we trick or treat? Can we carve pumpkins? Can we get together with family and friends and have a party? Absolutely. That’s all encouraged, and we should all do it in a spirit of holiness and in a way that gives glory to our Lord and Savior Jesus.