Halloween 2020

Source: sooknewsmirrow.com

What will Halloween look like in this year of COVID? Some municipalities are being forthright about cancelling trick or treating or gatherings that are potentially problematic, especially as we deal with the second wave.

have fond memories of my Halloweens when I was a child, especially in the early 1960s. I don’t recall if stores sold costumes. Maybe masks! I really don’t recall. No two people remember things the same way!

In any event, we probably wouldn’t have been able to afford to buy costumes. We had to get creative with old bed sheets, cardboard, paper, string, crayons and other things to make a costume. I grew up in a close-knit neighbourhood, so it was fairly common for hordes of us to descend on a house, brandishing pillowcases that were quickly filling with candy, apples, cookies and other treats.

I’m not sure if this memory is correct either, but I seem to recall getting home and watching my father sort through our haul, taking out the pieces that he preferred. Those days were so innocent! I’m often struck by that fact as I watch children try to make their way in this culture – not just on Halloween, but concerning so many other facets of contemporary life.

We live in an entirely different environment today. It is anything but innocent. If I were a parent, I doubt that I’d be fun. I’d be reluctant to allow my children to roam the streets dressed in a costume. Also, it’s unlikely that they would have many companions to share the adventure with.

And, what about others out trick or treating? Can I really trust that there is a child behind that mask? Is that weapon that is part of the costume really just a plastic toy? Would I need to examine and X-ray every single treat, to make sure there are no blades or poisons given out by deranged neighbours?

Do I really want my children to eat all that candy? If I were a parent, I’d be tempted to go to a supermarket and purchase a load of relatively nutritious snacks and tell my children to avoid the fun of wandering through the neighbourhood. It’s no wonder that many parents forbid their children from trick or treating, except in the relatively safe environment of their classroom.  But, maybe I shouldn’t try to shelter my children so much.

Another Halloween memory. I recall my diaconate ordination on October 31, 1987. It took place in the early evening at Our Lady of Lourdes Church on Sherbourne St in Toronto. After the Mass we all walked to Regis College, just west of Yonge St, for the reception. That meant crossing Yonge St. Many of us were dressed in clerical attire. I’m sure that many of the Halloween revelers assumed we were just another group of trick or treaters dressed up for the evening.

There are some Christians who question whether we should celebrate a day that has become so secularized. But the Church has been celebrating Halloween for centuries. The real meaning of Halloween is All Hallows’ Eve or All Saints’ Eve. We are using humour and ridicule to confront the power of death. We are about to enter into a month of remembering: the faithful departed, saints, martyrs, and veterans of wars.

On Halloween, we are basically telling death that it has no lasting power over us. We just need to find ways to reclaim Halloween from our secular culture. There are creative Christian groups that have devised alternative celebrations for this day. For instance, some people throw an All Saints’ Party. Instead of costumes of ghouls, the participants come dressed as saints. Who would you dress as?

Philip Shano, SJ has many years of rich and varied experience working with Ignatian spirituality: teaching, writing and using it in his ministry. He resides in the Jesuit community in Pickering, Ontario.

  • Richard Grover
    Posted at 08:16h, 31 October Reply

    When I was a kid we would all yell out “Halloween Apples!”Only American kids would yell “Trick or treat”. And we really did get a lot of apples. Then some crazy put a thin razor blade in an apple(or so we were told) and so the shift began to chocolate and candies. Dentists must have loved this change. Actually I can remember a dentist’s home giving out tooth brushes…so they weren’t all evil dentists 🙂 Richard

  • John Montague
    Posted at 08:28h, 31 October Reply

    John Veltri s.j. funeral took place on this day in 2008. Requiesce in pace.

    • Vicky Chen
      Posted at 16:23h, 31 October Reply

      Yes, he passed away on Oct 27 2008. RIP

  • Catherine von Zuben
    Posted at 09:47h, 31 October Reply

    Thanks for this recall of your Hallowe’en. We loved the fact that there was no school the next day for the Catholics – Nov.1st the feast of All Saints. My siblings and I would congregate in the living room with our pillow cases of treats; set them all out in front of us; and trade for our favourites. Taffy apples were our most valued possession. As we grew older we were allowed to go on the street car with our older sister downtown to ride on the magic stairs – the escalators in Eatons and Simpsons. Those were very happy days indeed!

  • Connie SHAW
    Posted at 21:59h, 01 November Reply

    In High School, I attended a boarding school run by the Sisters. We celebrated Hallowe’en with a party. We were expected to dress as a saint and tell a little of the a saint’s story. We had no costumes. So we scrounged what we could. Certainly there were a lot of sheets and blankets pinned together along with cardboard props.
    Crazy costumes but great learning.

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