As a child growing up in a Catholic family, Halloween took on an air of a religious holiday more than the traditional trick or treat. Although we still observed this practice of going door to door, we also partook of the practices of the church.
Allhallowtide is the days of Oct 31st known as All Hallows Eve, November 1st as All Souls Day and November 2nd was All Saints Day. It was believed that souls who did not go straight to heaven would wander the earth until All Saints Day when the heavens would open up for them. It is believed that these souls could seek vengeance on other living souls during this time. For this reason, people would disguise themselves to hide their identities. Others would wear the costumes of the Saints to honor those already in heaven. If a person was considered a saint, martyr, or holy person, their souls went directly to heaven upon their deaths.
On All Hallows Eve, in the early Christian times, people would bake soul cakes. Children and the poor would go begging door to door to offer prayers for the families departed and were given soul cakes in exchange. On All Souls Day, families would visit the gravesites and purify the ground. They would also walk the streets with candles to light the way for the souls preparing to go to heaven on All Saints Day. On this day, the parishes would pray for all departed souls. On All Saints Day, the parish people would pray for all the saints, thanking them for their guidance, their sacrifices on earth and to ask their aid in delivering the souls of the departed still on earth into heaven.
So although we would trick-or-treat like all the other children in the neighborhood, we would also spend a lot of time in church services and in prayer for those who had gone before us. Unlike today, we not only received candy, but many families would bring us into their homes to share in warm cider, apples, cakes and breads. It was a special time to remember our friends and families still with us and share in our love for each other.
Many persons believe that Halloween is taken from a pagan holiday which it may be for some. But I prefer our way only because it recognizes and remembers those who were part of our lives or shared in our lineage so they would not be forgotten. It was a time to give thanks to those who laid down their lives for our religion and for world peace, and a time for those who devoted their lives to spreading the word of faith, even if it cost them their lives. It is a time for prayer, laugher, tears, and sharing. It is a time for those who passed and those who still surround us.
Happy Allhallowtide to my friends and family. Prayers and thank you, to all those who have gone before me. Love and peace to those who still share this world with me.