It has been reported in the news as of late that Connecticut State Representative, Tim Larson, wants to change the date of Halloween to the last Saturday of October because it would be easier for working parents, safer for children and boost the economy.[i] But, Halloween or All Hallows Eve is the night before All Hallows Day (All Saint’s Day, November 1st and All Souls Day, November 2nd. To change the date as a matter of convenience takes the true meaning out of dressing up and trick or treating.
Halloween has its roots within the Celtic festival of Samhain celebrating the end of summer and the beginning of a new year. It was believed that on this night the dead would return and people would wear masks to scare away the evil spirits. According to Wikipedia, however, there is no evidence linking the holiday to the dead or pagan rituals. Pope Gregory IV moved All Saints Day (All Hallows Day), celebrating the lives of martyrs from May to November 1st hence taking on the name All Hallows Eve. All Souls Day is the remembrance of all those, family and friends we have loved whom have passed on.[ii]
During the Middle Ages at Hallowmas (November 1-All Saints Day)) the poor would go door-to-door, “souling” (freeing souls from Purgatory) for food in exchange for prayers for the dead on All Souls Day.[iii]
Moving the day children spend trick or treating turns Halloween into just another day begging for candy. However, some young Long Island Catholics are turning this Halloween into a day of helping those in need. Instead of trick or treating for candy, the Frassati Youth Group of Holy Name of Mary Parish in Valley Stream will be going door to door on Monday, October 31, 2011 collecting cans and non-perishable food items such as peanut butter, jelly, toilet paper, boxed pasta, and soap to be donated to the Holy Name of Mary Parish Outreach which helps those less fortunate. The All Souls Day Mass will be celebrated Wednesday, November 2, 2011 at 7:30PM at Holy Name of Mary Church in Valley Stream.
Halloween may not be a Christian holiday, but the practices and customs relate specifically to the following Catholic Days of honoring the dead. It is already commercialized and moving the day children celebrate Halloween is just another example of how this society is turning into one about convenience and making money, rather than traditions and principles.
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