“Halloween really is evil” stated the International Association of Exorcists in their Vatican meeting. “Many say Halloween is a simple carnival, but in fact there is nothing innocent or fun about it – it is the antechamber to something much more dangerous.”
Origins of Halloween
Halloween’s innocent origins can be found in a more Catholic age, when in preparation for the great feast of All Saints Day, children would go door to door receiving sweets or gifts in return for promising to pray for the dead of the family. “A holy and wholesome thought it is to pray for the dead, for their guilt’s undoing.”(2 Macc. 12 46) Families or parishes would organise parties with children dressing as their patron saint, and special prayers and Masses held to honour the Saints.
This tradition, much like the Easter Vigil or Midnight Mass on Christmas Eve, exists because of the Church’s custom to begin the feast at sunset the previous day. Interestingly, it seems we inherited this tradition from the Jews who count the day from sunset to sunset not midnight to midnight.
Some say that the Church inherited this feast from the pagans. However research indicates that although there was a minor festival in Celtic countries, the pagans celebrated every passing to a new month not only from October to November.
The Changing Face of Halloween
The first attack on Halloween or All Hallows Eve as it was known in 1647 was in Protestant Britain when not only the celebrations of Halloween and All Saints Day were outlawed but even Christmas was forbidden. In Catholic countries and in the New World the tradition continued unabated although slandered by the Puritans in particular who called it the “Devil’s Feast.”
Today’s Halloween owes its transformation to the United States where, with the horror film boom in the 1970’s, it began to take on a more sinister and even openly demonic form. Everyone has seen for themselves the witches and ghouls, little children vested with devil’s horns and youths sporting masks with monstrous features. Many shops people frequent, such as Lidls, now promote ugly and satanic costumes for children and adults. No wonder that the International Association of Exorcists report that the, “spike in demonic possessions in October is down to the phenomenon of Halloween.”
Fr Aldo Buonaiuto, who leads the Association, also warned that; ‘For the sects it is the best time of year to recruit new members. From here the door to the devil can be opened. For this reason it’s necessary for us to speak out and not play down the danger.’
This is not the first time that the Church has spoken out against the dangers of today’s decadent Halloween. The Polish Archbishop of Łódź stated in his 2013 letter to the faithful that; “acquainting children and young people, and even adults, with the practice of Halloween is incompatible with the teachings of the Church … a critical approach to Halloween is all the more necessary, as for some it is connected with the worship of Satan , the father of all evil , sin and death.”
In 2007, the Archdiocese of Mexico published on its website not only a condemnation of the secular celebration but also an alternative. “The worst thing is that this celebration has been identified with neo-pagans, Satanism and occult worship. Do not let your children wear Halloween costumes or go trick-or-treating;…. instead send them to Sunday school or costume parties where they can dress up as Biblical characters, or (give them) candy bags with instructions to give friends a piece.”
As Catholics we are called to live in society and make it more Catholic. This is the Christian Civilisation we strive for. We cannot join in a pagan festival however nor can we simply retreat and stay silent. No, we must provide a Catholic alternative, full of beauty and innocence, to inspire our families and society to truly prepare for the great feast of All Saints Day.