With less than two weeks until Halloween, some Catholic families are feeling torn about how to celebrate – or if they should celebrate at all. Some feel that participating in something that glamorizes the grotesque or opens up avenues to the occult goes against their values. Other families feel that Halloween is just good fun, but question whether they should be more spiritually serious about the holiday.
Patrick Madrid recently fielded a question from a listener who called in to The Patrick Madrid Show because her family does not celebrate Halloween and she is getting pressure from her family, her neighbors, and even her own kids to join in the festivities.
She told Patrick that the way she explains it to her kids is, “Halloween is something that is of the night, and as followers of Christ we celebrate the light. There’s a lot of bad things that can happen on that day, and I tell him we may not see it but there are evil spirits and we don’t want anything to do with that. I wanted to get your opinion. I know you have children and I wanted to know what your opinion was on that.”
Patrick responded, ‘The first thing I would like to do is praise you and your husband for being vigilant, careful, and really intent upon teaching your children the faith. But also guarding them from things that might harm their faith. I applaud you for that. Would that more parents took the kind of care that you and your husband are taking on this.”
Patrick went on to remind listeners of the origins of Halloween. He explained that it actually has its roots in the Catholic tradition of All Hallows Eve, the vigil of All Saints Day. For centuries in Europe’s Christian countries, this celebration took place at night and was in fact a religious celebration. However, as countries became more secular the religious aspects of the holiday fell by the wayside.
“So it’s not as though this is a wicked, pagan custom,” he said. “It’s just sort of stripped-down and devoid of its original meaning. It was a religious celebration and now it has become this secular celebration.”
Since the listener asked for Patrick’s opinion on Halloween, he offered it saying, “In my view, Halloween in itself is benign. I have nothing against Halloween. I trick-or-treated as a kid, I dressed up as a spaceman or a pirate. My parents would never let us dress up like a devil or anything Satanic. They always made it very clear that this is not about that. This is about having some fun, trick-or-treating, and enjoying yourself. Nothing more, purely secular.”
He went on to explain that he and his wife Nancy always let their kids dress up and trick-or-treat for Halloween, but they did something that was a little bit of a twist.
“We let our kids trick-or-treat, but we encouraged them to pick costumes that reflected our Catholic faith,” he said. “So my wife, because she’s a really good seamstress, made a pope outfit complete with the miter, chasuble, crozier, and all my boys wore it. We had a St. Michael the Archangel trick-or-treat outfit for Halloween. The breastplate, the sword, Nancy made these really big angel wings with feathers, and the boys would love to wear that. The girls would dress up as Mother Teresa, or one of the other saints.”
By approaching trick-or-treating in this way, Patrick pointed out that not only were his kids having fun, getting candy, and doing what the other kids were doing, but it was also an opportunity for them to evangelize and a fun way to learn how good it is to proclaim your Catholic faith in public.
“So we had the distinct sense that our children were learning a lesson, in a fun way, about how to proclaim their faith without even saying anything,” he said. “In my personal view, when you handle Halloween the proper way the kids know its actual history, and they are not being encouraged or permitted in any way to do anything that would be diabolical as some people do.”
Patrick concluded by telling the listener, “I think it’s entirely benign. I don’t have a problem with it as some people do. At the same time, I do respect your decision if you choose not to do this. I think it’s admirable that you and your husband are taking a stand to say this is something your children will not do. I have no objection to that whatsoever. But I personally don’t think there’s any problem with Halloween.”
Listen to the full conversation below: