Every year Francis and I have a discussion about what to do for Halloween. We are both big fans of the Holiday. When we were younger we would hold a fair for the church and the neighborhood we called “Ghost Town” on the Saturday closest to Halloween. These were very elaborate affairs each with its own theme: Harry Potter, Arabian Nights, King Arthur, etc. They became legend in our town at that time with epic set designs, many games, and, one year, live camel rides around our large yard. It helped to build community and it was a lot of fun.
Since moving to CT we have toned down the celebration a bit but we always have a great display. We don’t do horror but we do do spooky. And we always hand out the BIG candy bars. Rain, shine or snow, we celebrate the day on the 31st of October.
We do this, in part, because Halloween, or All Hallows Eve, is originally a religious holiday meant to be celebrated on the same day each year. On Sunday I will explore some of the origins of Halloween (both Pagan and Christian) and some of the other Holy Days of the Dead, such the Mexican Holiday Día de los Muertos. Like many of our ancient Holy days, Halloween has taken on a decidedly secular meaning.
All Hallows Eve is actually a very UU holiday. On the eve of All Saints Day (November 1st), Hallow’s Eve is also known as All Souls Day; the day in the calendar where we remember those who have died before us and pay respect and homage to what they have left us. Many of our churches are named All Souls Church, including one of our largest churches in New York City on the Upper East Side. Halloween is the day before the saints’ day, when we recognize that all souls are sacred and worthy of memory even if we didn’t necessarily like a particular soul when they were alive.
It is fitting that we remember the holiday because we are, after all, Universalists in our faith that all people are worthy of life and memory. It’s a rare treat that Halloween falls on a Sunday. Our multigenerational service will include a costume parade, and everyone is encouraged to wear a costume to worship. Immediately after the service there will be Necrology, a reading of the names of all those who have died in our congregation over its long history.
I hope you will join us this Sunday for what will be a fun and Holy time.
Yours Always, Rev. John