Celebrating Halloween (Part One): A Response to Halloween From Four Catholic Moms

00000018In today’s changing world, Halloween has evolved along with society.  Costumes aren’t quite as innocent as they used to be, candy is blamed for contributing to childhood obesity, and trick-or-treating has become a concern for some people worried about what could be in candy...or worse, who could be passing it out!  Luckily there is also beauty in the holiday for Catholics, in fact, its origins began with us.  Innocent celebration can teach our children a special part of our cultural history and create lasting memories for years. Below are thoughts from individual Catholic moms about their feelings toward Halloween.

Focus on My Family

Halloween has always been my favorite holiday of all.  

 One of my favorite Halloween memories is a compilation video my mom always watched with us in the weeks leading up to Halloween. There was a Raggedy Ann and Andy cartoon, old-school Strawberry Shortcake, and a strange  video called the Halloween That Almost Wasn’t. I don’t have the video anymore, but my own kids love watching these “old” shows on YouTube. 
Halloween also meant the Halloween Camp-out with my dad. We would decorate our campsite to create a scary scene, carve pumpkins for the pumpkin contest, walk in the costume parade, and then trick-or-treat around the campsites.
Now that I have kids, we love to go see the “scary guys” at the costume store and pick out pumpkins at the pumpkin patch. They have learned 

IMG_9775about All Saints Day and since my mom has died, going to mass on that day has become a part of our Halloween tradition (although, admittedly, a much more somber part). I have tried to make Halloween as happy for my kids as it was for me, despite the fact that  Halloween here in Arizona isn’t nearly as exciting as it is in Ohio. Here we miss the cold air and falling leaves, but we do have the benefit of being able to wear costumes without bulky sweatshirts underneath.  Ultimately Halloween holds nothing but happy memories for me. There isn’t the pressure of gift-giving or making a big dinner; the focus is just on fun and time with family. –Jessica Breen, Mother of 3, Catholic school teacher

A Good and Faithful Halloween

The Fall season is the most beautiful time of the year in my opinion.  It is about this time every year, as I long for cooler weather that I reminisce about seasons past and look forward to the colorful world of another Fall.   My childhood memories are of chilly, windy days, jumping in piles of leaves, smelling the burning leaves (when that was allowed), and a sense that my world was changing again. There was also the anticipation of Halloween and all the excitement that promised.

IMG_0251I grew up during a time when Halloween was simple and great fun.  The costumes we fashioned were from items we found around the house.  We were allowed to wear our costumes to school for an afternoon of fun with our teachers, who were very conservative nuns.  It always seemed to me that they enjoyed the fun also.    At night we were allowed to go trick or treating as soon as it got dark.  Our parents did not go with us because we knew everyone on the street.  There were even times we had to carry umbrellas because of rain or wear coats over our costumes because of the cold, but that never put a damper on the fun of the night.  I always felt we were lucky that we did not have to go to school the next day (maybe that is why our teachers looked so happy) because it was the feast of All Saints’ Day and families went to Mass for the holy day.   

Sadly, over the years Halloween has transformed into something that is not so innocent.  As a teacher, I observed changes slowly happening year after year.  I saw these changes especially in decorations and costumes.  There were always the clever, wholesome, and well thought out costumes, but I also saw what I would consider the worse choice of costumes. Violence and a promotion of a sensual attitude even for young children have become more obvious and accepted by some.  When looking at it from these worse scenarios, I can understand why some schools have limited or eliminated Halloween fun and why some parents object to the holiday.  This holiday definitely has divided parents. 

If we teach our children about the Catholic origin of the holiday so they understand what Halloween is about there can still be fun with costumes, friends, and treats that reflect that true meaning.  And Mass on All Saints’ Day is the perfect culmination of the holiday.  It truly is one of the most beautiful Masses of the year.  Teaching our children what is true and good about their faith will help them make faithful choices and enable them to see the holiness of the day.–Colleen Mitchell, Mother of 3, Grandmother of 5

Through the Eyes of Motherhood

light-person-woman-fire

As the weather would shed its still lingering heat, the hint of crisper air and subtly tinted leaves gently ushered in the time of Halloween. I was but a child, and the sweetness of holiday joy was all I could focus on. So, here it came: a day of ghouls and goblins, witches and fairies. Skipping down my childhood streets, smiling faces beckoned me to partake in an event that to my youthful soul, was simple: dress up in mama’s clothes, or perhaps the costumes of nearby stores. Smile, chant a simple rhyme, and be gifted with generous amounts of pucker inducing War Heads, slowly melting bars of creamy chocolate, or crunchy crispy bars.

Trick or Treat, smell my feet, give me something good to eat!

In retrospect, why I thought anyone would be inclined to give me sweets after being taunted with that song is beyond me. The best explanation that I can muster is my naïve childhood self thought it was clever. And there lies the crutch of Halloween: when I participated, I viewed myself as a participant in something relatively innocent, a chance to spook your friends and gleefully organize piles of candies.

Like all things, as time passes and years pass by, your perspective changes. I saw Halloween morph from a time of fun and simple mischief into a night where some focus on horror, wear outfits that range from silly and juvenile to frightening or incredibly sexy (or, perhaps a combination of all those categories!) So, the question was broached: would my Catholicism impact my decision to participate in this once loved holiday? How would my faith in Christ, my attempts to cling to goodness and love, mold my practices for this national event?

light-person-woman-fireIn short, I still partake in this day. Like many things in life, something can be holy and good or sinful based on one’s intent and desire. I doubt the vast majority of participants are aware that their choices might negatively impact their soul. I understand: wrapped up in the fun and excitement of it all, the rush of adrenaline associated with parties, friends, and general antics leads to actions focused on promoting an environment of tempting fun.

As for me, I still love this day. Now viewing it through the eyes of motherhood, I am hoping and striving to let my kids experience this day in a way that is filled with fun and joy, while avoiding those habits that could open them up to temptation or sin (which isn’t hard for me at this point, as my babies are just 2.5 and almost 1). My advice? Focus on the positives associated with this event- dressing up in fun outfits promotes imagination. Counting and sorting bags of candies enhances organizational skills. Selecting candy to share with others fosters generosity. Greeting neighbors at their homes brings joy and gladness. And when it is all done, remember that those beautiful kiddos of yours will likely share a Reese’s or Snicker’s with their dearly beloved mother and father.–Elizabeth Badillo, Mother of 2, Nurse,  Fellow Blogger at With Great Love (Check her out!)

Passing on Traditions

IMG_3559I have very fond memories of Halloween and dressing up.  When I was a kid I always wanted to be something “pretty” so I could wear make-up.  I’m very excited as my kids are getting old enough to pick their own costumes for Halloween and to go trick or treating.  I’m looking forward to my husband and I passing on those traditions from our childhoods.  For my kids, Halloween is a time we will encourage them to use their imagination and use their creativity to be something special.   It will be a time that they can express themselves as something that they want to be, something they hope to be or even just something that will shock and have a fun reaction.  It’s a chance to live slightly outside of reality, be someone new and gives them an opportunity to have fun!–Maggie Brown, Mother of 3, Student Counselor

Part Two of our Celebrating Halloween post will be here on Tuesday with a list of great books to read with your little ones!

 

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