The month of October is usually known for Halloween, and people often find themselves gearing up for ‘ghoulish’ and ‘freaky’ events and parties, with matching scary costumes to boot! While there is nothing ‘sinful’ per se about dressing up as ghosts and zombies, as Catholic Christians, we are called to do things differently — to be ‘counter culture’ and to try to remember the roots of traditions like Halloween.
In reality, the word “Halloween” finds its roots in “All Hallows’ Eve,” or “the eve before All Saints.” Thus, it is actually a time to commemorate the saints, before All Saints Day on November 1. Bearing this in mind, what then can we do to honor the saints as a family, especially this October? Here are some suggestions:
1. Honor the Queen of All Saints.
Our Blessed Virgin Mary is the Queen of All Saints, so let us give her honor by offering her a “crown of roses” every day — by praying the Rosary together as a family. If you already do this regularly as a family, good for you! If you don’t though, the month of October is a great time to begin doing so. (Yes, even if October is already almost over!)
Tip: If praying the whole Rosary is challenging for your family, especially if you have younger children, you can start out by praying a decade a day. The important thing is to pray with your hearts — and remember to teach the children why you are praying in the first place.
2. Read books about the saints.
Picture books about the saints are a great way to introduce your children to the “heroes” of the Church. They also become a great starter for discussions about how to be like the saints in our family life and elsewhere.
Tip: After reading about a certain saint, try to have a ‘follow-up’ activity, like a simple craft, game or song related to that particular saint. You can do a simple Google search and come up with tons of ideas on what you can do with your kids.
3. Watch videos about the saints.
Similar to no. 2, you can find children’s videos about the saints at your local Catholic store or even online. You may also look for videos on YouTube, but make sure that you preview the videos first, to make sure that they are suitable for your children, and that your children are old/mature enough to comprehend them.
Tip: Again, don’t stop at just watching a video — think of other ways that you can deepen your child’s knowledge about a particular saint.
Based on my experience, it helps to have a patron saint for each child. This way, the child will be more excited to learn about his/her patron saint. If your child doesn’t have a patron saint yet, you can choose one for him/her. (Usually, the patron saint is based on the child’s name, but if this is not applicable to your child, you can just select a saint for him/her.)
4. Pay a visit to the saints.
Every parish usually has statues or images of different saints, and even small chapels have them. Schedule a “field trip” with your children this October and “visit” the saints nearest you. If you can do this as a complete family, all the better!
While you’re there, don’t forget to say a prayer for all families everywhere, that God — through the intercession of His saints — will bless us and guide us in all that we do!
Tip: If you can, find out who the saints in your “field trip” venue are before you go there, and try to research about them. This way, your children can ‘connect’ the saints to the statues or images that they will see.
5. Plan and/or attend an All Saints Day celebration.
One of the best and most fun ways to honor the saints is to hold an All Saints Day celebration, especially as an alternative to the usual Halloween parties and celebrations. Ask your local parish if they will be organizing such a celebration, or hold a simple one yourself at home. You can refer to this page on Catholic Icing for ideas.
Tip: If your kids feel that they are too “old” or “mature” to have an All Saints Day party or celebration, you can still celebrate in your own way by doing something saint-themed with them, like watching a saint-themed movie together (check out your local Catholic bookstore for movies about saints) or a similar “family bonding activity.”
No matter what you choose to do, remember that we are all called to be saints, and that we should honor the saints in Heaven not just during October and November, but every day of our lives. All the Saints, pray for us!
Do you have your own suggestions for celebrating the saints as a family? Please feel free to share them with us in the comments! Oh, and if you are encouraged in any way by this post, please do share it with others!
Copyright 2015 Tina Santiago Rodriguez