Halloween is a holiday that has taken twists and turns over the years. Now it is known, to most people, to be more about candy and costumes than any religious celebration. Once upon a time, however, All Hallows Eve, the predecessor to today’s Halloween, was a religious celebration as All Saints Day and All Souls Day are still today.
“In the tradition of the Church, All Hallows Eve was set aside as a time to essentially laugh at death,” said Father Karl Burns, rector of All Saints Anglican Church. “We laugh at death because death no longer has a hold on us. That is where we get the tradition of wearing masks and dressing up like ghosts or skeletons. We were laughing at death.”In the Reformation period, the Church saw a split in many different ways. One of them was how All Saints Day was celebrated.
The Catholic Church continued to celebrate the day each year on Nov. 1, recognizing those who have attained the title of saint through the process of beatification and all who have gone on to heaven. The Anglican Church also began to celebrate all people who have been saved, considering them all to have become a saint through their salvation.
“It started as a day to honor Christian martyrs,” said Jane Lewis, Senior Warden at St. Catherine’s Episcopal Church. “After the reformation, it expanded to include all Christians past and present. At St. Catherine’s, we honor our members, their family members and those who have gone on before us.”
Lewis said that during their Sunday service, St. Catherine’s will read a special prayer, from the Book of Common Prayer, for all of the saints who have passed away.
Another thing that sets the Catholic Church apart from the Episcopal and Anglican Churches is the belief in purgatory and the commemoration of All Souls Day each year on Nov. 2 .
The Catholic Church uses the day as a day of prayer for people who have died but may not have been saved, ending up in purgatory.
While there might be differences in their beliefs and doctrines, many denominations – including Methodist, Catholic, Episcopal and Anglican – continue to celebrate All Saints Day, recognizing that if it were not for the Christians that have come before them, the faith would be much different.
"It really is remembering what they have done on earth, remembering the things they’ve done for the faith and how that has impacted us” Burns said. “It is also remembering that this life isn’t the end all, be all. There is life eternal that awaits us in glory with God. We know that they have gone on to that, and we are in great anticipation for that reuniting.”