All Hallows Eve
I often joke that one of the most Christian of all the popular holidays is Halloween. Though some make a connection to traditional Celtic festivals, All Hallows Eve was a day in which people would begin the celebration of All Saints Day, which would be November 1. While I was in college a friend of mine and I looked at how Halloween had morphed from the beginning of a “high-holy day” to the “scary” fear laden day it became (and maybe the caricature that it is today).
A big reason has to do with a sociological change in the perception of death among the Christian community that happens around the time of the black plague. At that time, science being what it was, people began to see that death begat more death. We know now that the reason was that the organisms moved from the dead body to the living ones, but at the time, death, which was a fairly accepted part of life, began to be feared as if death itself could bring more death. The logic is there, and even though we know that this is not true, we still fear death.
The fear of death is something that is really an anathema to Christianity. In the earliest days of the Christian movement, the churches would often meet in the catacombs. This was not for a special communion with the dead, but because they were safe places, because the Romans were afraid of the dead and what they represented. In fact, one of the fears bestowed among the earliest Christians was that they were death worshippers, and in a way that would be correct.
The dead play a very important role in Christianity. In fact, the story of Christ is a story of freedom from the fear of death. This is one of the promises of the resurrection, that death will no longer conquer and defeat those whom God has called, in a strange way even allowing us to celebrate death again as an important stage of life.
This is where the All Saints celebration comes in. In the Catholic tradition this was a day that people would set aside to remember the Saints of the church and celebrate them. Obviously, the eve of All Saints Day plays a role in the celebration, even conjuring up specific Saints to do acts or perform miracles. Thinking about it, it is not that different today, except for the fear. And that is unfortunate, because death is not something to be feared. It is something to be remembered, even mourned, but not feared. So we celebrate Halloween for all the fun it may be, and we recognize All Saints Day and its special place in our faithful life.
As our book of common worship writes:
Bryan  From Companion to the Book of Common Worship, edited by Peter C. Bower, © 2003, Office of Theology and Worship, Congregational Ministries Division of the PC(USA).
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Rev. Dr. Bryan James Franzen