Tuesday was All Saints’ Day. It gave Monday’s holiday, All Hallows’ Eve, its name, “Halloween.” I have nothing against the practice of dressing kids up and sending them around the neighborhood to acquire (extort) candy from people. I think it is great. How else would I get my whopper and Reese’s fix? But there is a reason the two are one after the other.
See in the early Church, and still in many Eastern Churches, All Saints’ Day was shortly after Pentecost. That timeframe makes sense. If we are going to celebrate the coming of the Holy Spirit then we should be quick to celebrate how effective He has been down through the ages in the lives of believers.
That changed in the Eighth Century. At that time, the feast was moved to be the day after a Celtic festival that was based on the belief that on October 31 the veil between the worlds of the living and the dead was thinned. Whether this was done to ease people’s conversions or to combat this pagan feast is beyond my area of expertise and I have little regard for ‘.com’ opinions regarding the motivations of historical figures, particularly Popes. Instead, I want to point out what we have available to us in these two days.
In essence we have a mini-Easter in the fall. In Halloween we have a holiday based on the veil between the living and the dead being thin that is immediately followed by a celebration of that veil being torn. The original Celtic festival said death is on that side of the veil and life is on this side. That was overcome by a feast that declares that life, and not death, came through the torn veil. That truly we were the land of the dead but now have access to the Spirit of Life.
The origin of October 31 was that the veil was thin and we hid in costumes of the dead to conceal ourselves from other spirits. We celebrate on November 1 because the veil was torn, we can shed our costumes of walking death, and the Spirit of the living God resides in us. We declare that His love overcomes all fear, and that we look for the Lord of Life in His distressing disguise of the poor and under the guise of bread and wine.
The land of the dead was invaded by Life and we celebrate all of those who have been brought to life.
All Saints’ Day, it’s like the Zombie Apocalypse… in reverse.
Used to confirm that my memory served me correctly: