What do trick-or-treating, Christmas-gift exchanging and Easter-egg hunts have in common?
They’re customs related to observances steeped in Christianity — yet in popular culture, the religious aspects routinely take a back seat, if they get acknowledged at all. What can we, as Catholics, do?
For starters, perhaps we could view Halloween not as a one-day fun fest but the beginning of an important three-day stretch next week honoring the faithfully departed. After all, Halloween — also known as All Hallows’ Eve — was established to note the eve of All Saints Day. In fact, the word "Halloween" is derived from an Old English word referring to saints and saintliness. All Saints Day is then followed on Nov. 2 by All Souls’ Day.
Of the three, one is a day of obligation — and we’re not talking about the obligation to don costumes and go door to door for candy. It’s to attend Mass on All Saints Day.
Yes, this is an extra hour out of people’s already busy schedules that include work and school next Tuesday. But consider the immense amount of time and effort devoted to the secular aspects of Halloween. A few weeks from now, many of us will be willingly off to the malls at 5 a.m. on Black Friday to jockey for the best deals and latest gizmos leading into Christmas.
By putting just a fraction of that sweat and toil toward observing All Saints Day, wouldn’t it be worthwhile to keep the observance in its rightful place as an obligation rather than an option?