Updated: Oct 20
Last year around this time I was planning an All Hallows' Eve celebration for a Catholic parish and school with over 6,000 families! (While my degrees are in Theology and Education I learned the trade of event planning and have been able to serve the Catholic community in that way for over 5 years now.) I have had more fun than you can imagine as an event planner and I've been able to combine that with my Masters in Theology to provide meaningful family and community celebrations and educational experiences. For the All Hallows' Eve celebration I did an outdoor trunk-or-treat with community prayer, Catholic games, saint costume contests, an outdoor movie, and food trucks. Due to Covid we aren't able to do that this year but it occurred to me, why don't I give you some of the fun resources that I used to do this at home with your own family or a small group of your close friends! I hope you enjoy this resource guide and learn a little bit about the meaning behind this season.
The Meaning of Halloween!
Halloween translates to All Hallows' Eve, or the eve of all holy men and women. During this time we are called to remember and celebrate the communion of saints, communio sanctorum. This terminology refers to the church militant for those living on earth, the church suffering for those in purgatory, and the church triumphant for those in Heaven. For Catholics, October 31 is supposed to be the celebration and liturgical vigil of All Saints (November 1), which is a solemnity and a holy day of obligation. We honor the Church Triumphant and recall the many great saints that we love and seek to be like. Following that we celebrate those soon to be saints on what is known as All Souls Day. We pray for the suffering church, those in purgatory, and especially our loved ones that have gone before us.
All Hallows' Eve & All Saints
1. Catholic Saint Snacks
These are adorable ideas from Catholic Icing but here are a few more.
St. Bernadette's Firewood (Jumbo Pretzel Sticks)
St. Isadore's Pumpkin Patch (Small Candy Pumpkins)
St. Francis (Animal Crackers)
St. Nicholas (Candy Canes)
Our Lady of Mt. Caramel (Caramel Squares)
St. Joan of Arc (Flaming Hot Cheetos)
St. Lucy (Grapes or Olives for eyes)
St. Elizabeth of Hungary (Small Sandwiches)
St. Peter or St. Lawrence (Waffle Pretzels)
Mary, Mother of God (They have no wine, water bottles)
Photo Credit: Catholic Icing
These printable saints from Happy Saints are perfect for cupcake toppers!
Photo Credit: Happy Saints
2. Play Guess How Many
Following the same food themes you could make a game out of it as well. Put those items in a jar and have your children or your guests guess how many!
Photo Credit: Shower of Roses
3. Decorate with the Saints
I like to do a mix of decorations but this year I integrated a Saint Shrine as well as a Saint Card Wreath to serve as reminders of the holy men and women that we are striving to be like.
You could also hang these adorable All Saints prints from KolbesLittleFlowers! Here is the Etsy link, go check them out.
4. Dress Up as Saints
Pick a saint to learn about during this season and dress up like them. I love St. Rose of Lima so a few years ago I pulled together some things that I had at home and borrowed an altar server robe to look like her for Halloween. I made the veil out of a headband and fabric that I hot glued together!
Confession... I dressed up like her for a school function, after I got off work I had to run by a parish that my husband was working at to pick something up. As I was waiting for him an older lady came up to me and began telling me how much she loved the Dominican sisters and how she was taught by them as a young girl. She went on to tell me her fond memories of the sisters and how happy she was to see one around, mind you this parish hardly ever has sisters at it. Y'all, I didn't have the heart to tell her that I wasn't a sister so I just stood there with a stupid smile on my face! Lord help me! Moral of the story, I am the queen of the hot glue gun.
5. Make Your Own Saint Shrine
I found this PDF template that you can download, color, and cut out. Place your favorite saint card or print in the shrine and add an electric tea light in front of it.
6. Read a Saint Story
One of my favorite things to do is to read about the lives of the saints. Seeing that they could love God and strive for virtue in their own circumstances gives me hope and courage to do the same.
7. Go To Mass
All Saints is a solemnity and a holy day of obligation so go to Mass together. If you are social distancing take time to pray the Liturgy of the Hours as a family or pray a rosary.
8. Make a Saint Craft
Engaging children in hands on activities can help them learn about and retain information in a more meaningful way. Pick a saint that you are going to learn about and create something together that you can display or play with.
Photo Credit: Catholic Icing
Photo Credit: Catholic Playground
9. Paint Saint Pumpkins
While I suppose you could carve a saint pumpkin, why not have some fun with paint. You could trace an image onto a pumpkin or draw it free hand.
Photo Source Unknown
Just, wow... guess I should have started working on my pumpkin back in January.
10. Play Saint Games
Whether you are having a big party or at home with your own kids these games from Happy Saints look like a lot of fun.
Photo Credit: Happy Saints
All Souls Day Activities
11. Pray for the faithful departed
Put up pictures of relatives that have passed away with a small tea light in front of each picture. This way your family can remember to pray for their souls and discuss fond stories of your passed loved ones. Keep it up all November!
12. Make a Memorial Candle
Purchase a glass candle from the dollar store and write their names on the outside or you could print their picture and names then tape it on. This is an easy and inexpensive way to honor the souls that we are praying for in our home.
13. Visit a Cemetery
Visit the cemetery of passed family members and pray for their soul. You could also read from scripture, pray a litany of the holy souls, walk around, or bring flowers to freshen up their grave.
14. Pray the Requiem Aeternam
This is a traditional prayer for the poor souls in purgatory that you can pray on All Souls Day. My family prays the second half of this prayer every time we say grace over our meals.
15. Learn About the Phrase "Memento Mori"
This means that we are to remember our own death, not out of a negative sense of fear, but a holy fear as a way of drawing us into a deeper relationship with Christ and virtue. When we meditate on our own death and the death of Christ we are to remember the victory that was won for us, and live in accordance with that. There are lots of Memento Mori products out there to help remind us of this, check out some of them.
Product by: Sr. Theresa Aletheia Noble, FSP
Make Soul Cakes
During the Middle Ages, peasants and children called "soulers" would go around singing and praying for the souls of the dead. They would go door to door and beg for a soul cake in exchange for praying for that person's deceased family members. The story tells us that if the family did not give them a soul cake, their house would be cursed! This is thought to be the beginnings of what we now know as trick or treating. Here is a delicious recipe that I have from Lavender and Lovage.
Photo Source: Lavender and Lovage
The Traditional All Hallows' Eve Song for Soul Cakes
Soul, Soul, a soul cake!
I pray thee, good missus, a soul cake!
One for Peter, two for Paul,
three for Him what made us all!
Soul Cake, soul cake, please good missus, a soul cake.
An apple, a pear, a plum, or a cherry, any good thing to make us all merry.
One for Peter, two for Paul, & three for Him who made us all.
“The only real sadness, the only real failure, the only great tragedy in life, is not to become a saint.” - Leon Bloy