In England, saints or holy people are called “hallowed” (deriving from the Old English word meaning holy or sanctified). Hence the name “All Hallows’ Day” for the Feast of All Saints. The evening before the feast became popularly known as “All Hallows’ Eve” or even shorter, “Hallowe’en”.
Many recipes and traditions have come down for this evening, such as pancakes, boxty bread, barmbrack (Irish fruit bread), colcannon (cabbage and boiled potatoes). This was also known as “Nutcrack Night” in England, where family gathered around the hearth to enjoy cider, nuts, and apples. “Soul cakes” are another traditional food. People would go begging for a “soul cake” and in exchange would promise to pray for the donor’s departed friends and family: an early version of today’s “Trick or Treat.”
Catholic Halloween Facts…..Did you know???
- The true substance of Halloween belongs to the Catholic Church.
- Halloween is a derivative of All Hallow’s Eve. It is the vigil of All Saints (All Hallows) Day. All Saints Day is a Holy Day of Obligation, and thus a major feast on the Church’s liturgical calendar.
- Halloween is indeed connected with All Saints Day (Nov. 1) and All Souls Day (Nov. 2). These three days together are the “Days of the Dead,” a triduum of feasts also called Allhallowtide, Hallowtide, or Hallowmas (“Hallow” means to honor as holy).
- Halloween is, therefore, the first day of Allhallowtide, the time of year when the living (i.e. the Church Militant) honor all the dead in Christ: the saints in heaven (i.e. the Church Triumphant) as well as all the holy souls detained in purgatory on their way to heaven (i.e. the Church Suffering). It is a beautiful celebration of the Communion of Saints!
- Catholics historically believed that on these “Days of the Dead,” the veil between heaven, hell, and purgatory is the thinnest.
- Halloween begins the celebration of these Christian holy days to 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.
- In the year 844 A.D. Pope Gregory III transferred the Feast of All Saints (which particularly honors the unknown martyrs and “hidden” saints whom we do not know by name) from its former day of May 13th to November 1st to coincide with the foundation of 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.
- In medieval times, churches often displayed the bones and relics of their saints on Halloween (i.e. the vigil of All Saints Day) for public veneration.
- Halloween is a Catholic holiday and does not have origins in paganism, Samhain, Celtic/Druidic festivals, the occult, or Satanism. This common misconception is modern anti-Catholic propaganda, with roots going back to the Protestant Reformation, and has no basis in historical fact.
- To avoid superstition and negative evil influences, Halloween should notbe honored or celebrated apart from Catholic truth. (In the same way, we should keep the birth of Christ at the center of Christmas, and the Resurrection of Christ at the center of Easter).
- Halloween is a day to reflect on Christ’s triumph over sin, death, and Satan; to meditate on our own mortality and duties to God; to shun sin and the devil; to give honor to the saints in heaven; and to pray for the souls of the faithful departed in purgatory. And, of course, to have fun with joyful feasting and merriment.
(Sourced/Cited from theCatholicCompany.com)