“Days of the Dead”
Hallow meaning Saint
The first day of Allhallowtide, the time of year when the living (i.e. the Church Militant) honors all the dead in Christ: All Hallow's Eve
All the saints in heaven (i.e. the Church Triumphant): All Saints Day
As well as all the holy souls detained in purgatory on their way to heaven (i.e. the Church Suffering): All Souls Day
Allhallowtide is a beautiful celebration of the communion of saints!
Halloween or All Saints' Eve
Halloween begins the celebration of these Christian holy days that remind the faithful of the reality of heaven and hell, the saints and the damned, demons and angels, and the holy souls suffering in purgatory.
Celebrate this feast by taking the family to Mass on All Hallow’s Eve, and pray for the intercession of the saints in heaven—especially those who are your patrons. Have fun with the family on this night either at church or at home all dressed up!
Halloween is a Catholic holiday:
In the year 844 A.D. Pope Gregory III transferred the feast of All Saints (which honored especially the unknown martyrs and “hidden” saints whom we do not know by name) from May 13th to November 1st to coincide with a chapel in St. Peter’s Basilica which he dedicated to all the saints in heaven. His successor, Pope Gregory IV, extended the feast of the dedication to the universal Church.
Old World Halloween connection aka ancient indigenous customs:
November 1st marked Samhain, the beginning of the Celtic winter. (The Celts lived as early as 2,000 years ago in England, Scotland, Wales, Ireland and northern France.) Samhain, for whom the feast was named, was the Celtic lord of death, and his name literally meant "summer's end." Since winter is the season of cold, darkness and death, the Celts soon made the connection with human death. The eve of Samhain, Oct. 31, was a time of Celtic sacrifice, and Samhain allowed the souls of the dead to return to their earthly homes that evening. Ghosts, witches, goblins and elves came to harm the people, particularly those who had inflicted harm on them in this life. Cats, too, were considered sacred because they had once been human beings who had been changed as a punishment for their evil deeds on this earth.
To protect themselves from marauding evil spirits on the eve of Samhain, the people extinguished their hearth fires, the priests and spiritual teachers of the Celts, built a huge new year's bonfire of sacred oak branches. People sometimes wore costumes of animal heads and skins. From this new fire, the home hearths were again ignited.
Particular ethnic groups developed their own lore, which was merged with the celebration:
In Ireland, people held a parade in honor of Muck Olla, a god. They followed a leader dressed in a white robe with a mask from the head of an animal and begged for food. (Ireland is also the source of the jack-o-lantern fable: A man named Jack was not able to enter heaven because of his miserliness, and he could not enter hell because he played practical jokes on the devil; so he was condemned to walk the earth with his lantern until judgment day.)
The Scots walked through fields and villages carrying torches and lit bonfires to ward off witches and other evil spirits.
In Wales, every person placed a marked stone in the huge bonfire. If a person's stone could not be found the next morning, he would die within a year.
Besides the Celtic traditions in place, the Roman conquest of Britain in A.D. 43 brought two other feasts:
Feralia was held in late October to honor the dead. Another autumn festival honored Pomona, the goddess of fruits and trees; probably through this festival, apples became associated with Halloween. Elements of these Roman celebrations were combined with the Celtic Samhain.
What it has evolved to today:
With the spread of Christianity and the establishment of All Saints Day, some of these old world customs remained in the English speaking world for All Hallows Eve (or Halloween, All Saints Eve), perhaps at first more out of superstition, and later, more out of fun without any real ties to paganism. For this reason, little ones (and some big ones) still dress in a variety of costumes and pretend for the evening to be ghosts, witches, vampires, monsters, ninjas, pirates and so on, without any thought of paganism.
Nevertheless, All Saints Day clearly arose from a genuine Christian devotion to honor Christian martyrs.
All Saints Day
This feast honors all the Saints in Heaven & Christian martyrs.
All Saints (which honored especially the unknown martyrs and “hidden” saints whom we do not know by name).
On All Saints Day thank the saints for what they have done for you; adorn their altars and images with flowers, venerate their relics, recite special prayers and litanies in their honor. Enjoy a special meal with loved ones.
Celebrate this feast by taking the family to Mass on All Saints Day, and pray for the intercession of the saints in heaven—especially those who are your patrons. Read about the lives of the saints, hand out holy cards, have a party with saint-based activities or costumes for kids.
All Souls Day
There is power in prayer!
All Souls Day is a holy day set aside for honoring the dead.
According to Catholic belief, the soul of a person who dies can go to one of three places. The first is heaven, where a person who dies in a state of perfect grace and communion with God goes. The second is hell, where those who die in a state of mortal sin are naturally condemned by their choice. The intermediate option is purgatory, which is thought to be where most people, free of mortal sin, but still in a state of lesser (venial) sin, must go.
Purgatory is necessary so that souls can be cleansed and perfected before they enter into heaven. There is scriptural basis for this belief. The primary reference is in 2 Maccabees, 12:26 and 12:32. "Turning to supplication, they prayed that the sinful deed might be fully blotted out... Thus made atonement for the dead that they might be free from sin."
All Souls Day, pray for the Holy Souls in Purgatory and make sacrifices on their behalf, especially those whom you have known and loved, and for those who have no one to pray for them. Visit graveyards and cemeteries to pray for the dead who can no longer pray for themselves.
Celebrate this feast day by taking the family to Mass on All Souls Day, and pray for the souls who still need to be cleansed. Go to the graves of loved ones and pray for them. Celebrate with stories of the departed. Cook a special meal and spend time with loved ones.