St. Stephen, Anoka, promotes saints in Halloween Capital of the World

| Father Michael Van Sloun For The Catholic Spirit | October 26, 2010 | 0 Comments

All Saints Day votives

Halloween, Oct. 31, is one of Anoka’s claims to fame!  Many local folk believe Anoka is the original Halloween Capital of the World.

There is no place in America quite like Anoka! Where else can students get out of class to march down Main Street in costumes on a school day?

What city has not one but two other Halloween parades? Where else do people decorate their homes as elaborately for Halloween as the residents of Anoka?

Halloween is a fun. The kids dress up in costumes. Then it’s time to go out for trick or treats and collect bags full of candy.

Halloween is full of creepy things: ghosts and goblins, witches and vampires, spiders and bats, coffins and tombstones, haunted houses and scary movies. But these are recent developments, secular ways to celebrate what once was a very Christian feast.

Back to Christian roots

As the eyes of the state and the world look to Anoka, St. Stephen’s of Anoka is in a unique position to make a major statement, to remind people of the Christian roots of this festival and to call ourselves and others to a more wholesome spiritual celebration of this event.

Halloween is the night before All Saints Day. All Saints is such a major feast that the celebration begins with a vigil on the night before the actual day. The original name was All Hallows Eve and later shortened to Halloween. Hallow means “holy” or “sacred,” and “e’en” is a rough translation of eve or even, British equivalents to evening.

Therefore, Halloween means “holy evening,” a time of prayerful preparation for All Saints Day.

Costumes have long been a part of Halloween, but the Christian tradition has been to dress up like one of the saints, not in a funny or scary outfit like today. The whole idea was to honor the memory of the saint and inspire people to imitate the saint’s positive spiritual qualities.

Scare away evil with good

Masks have also played a big part of Halloween, but they were not worn to startle others or make people laugh. Instead, certain Celtic tribes wore masks to scare away evil spirits so they might remain pure and holy.

Trick or treats may have begun with the poor who went from door-to-door to beg for food with the promise to pray for the dead relatives and friends of anyone who shared with them.

I encourage you to have a safe and fun Halloween this year. Behave responsibly. But most of all, it is time to reclaim the Christian roots of the feast.

Reject everything Satanic or associated with the occult. Stay away from horror movies that glorify violence. Keep the focus on the saints. Have your children dress up like saints. Better yet, adults, wear a saint’s outfit to a costume party.

Honor a favorite saint. Imitate the saints. Pray for the dead. Share food with the hungry. Let Halloween be a reminder that we are called to be on the path to sainthood.

Father Michael Van Sloun is pastor of St. Stephen in Anoka.

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Category: Spotlight, The Lesson Plan