It is possible to have a Catholic Halloween for kids!! One of the best activities to do is trick-or-treating for souls. The kids do ask for candy, but with that candy they get souls as well. Souls that are prayed for with sweet sticky candy on their hands.
Somehow, despite our tiny size, we’ve managed a fantastic, fair-like All Souls/All Saints Party every year on the Monday before Halloween. When we first decided to make it happen (I say “we” because we have three moms that run our group, never just one), I took on the task of thinking up activities to really bring home what All Saints and All Souls Days are about.
At the same time, I wanted to be in direct competition with the fun and excitement of secular Halloween celebrations. With some time devoted to internet research, and a God who graced me with a talent for coming up with ideas of my own, I had soon compiled what you’ll see below. If the original idea came from a particular source, I did my best to list it. At the bottom of each idea is a hyperlink to the next, just so this post isn’t so overwhelming.
Trick-or-Treating for Souls
The main event for every kid is getting to knock on doors and have candy handed to them for no better reason than the fact that they’re in costume, or smiling, or just shorter than the person handing it to them. To bring it to church, and really elevate it to a Catholic event, our group created what we call “trick-or-treating for souls”. We hand out paper people to every office in the church and school a week before the party.
There happens to also be a retirees group that does exercise at the same time as our meetings, and they like to participate, too. They are actually our most avid supporters. All year, they get to see us lug our kids, strollers and stuff through the doors while they do light aerobics, until finally, we bring the joy of cute kids right to them during the party.
Then they lavish our kids with ridiculous amounts of treats and the best oos and ahhs you’ve ever heard. They, like all those in the church and school offices, including the priests, write names of their dearly departed on the paper people. Those names on people cutouts (which I buy from the local teacher store) are then deposited in trick-or-treat bags held by our Saintly, Disney-y, or pop culture-y clad children.
Because these are real people who truly need prayers, we take them back upstairs and gather up all the paper people. All the kids get to put their stack of them into the arms of a poster board Jesus who is secretly strung up over the movable wall in our room. When they’re all in his arms, we sing part of the Divine Mercy Chaplet.
If you repeat, “For the sake of His sorrowful Passion, have mercy on us and on the whole world,” over and over, the kids can usually catch on. If you’ve never heard the Divine Mercy Chaplet, you can listen on EWTN at 3 p.m. every day (at least in San Antonio on 89.7 FM). Or, you can find it on youtube, order a free CD from the Mary Foundation, or get kid-appropriate books and CDs on it from Holy Heroes. I personally like the version I first heard by a North Texas praise and worship band named Remnant.
As everyone sings, someone pulls Jesus up to the ceiling, where we have some version of a cloud to hide him. We tell the kids that through God’s mercy, all of the souls can make it up to heaven in the arms of Christ if we help them by praying for them. We bring Jesus poster board back down again, and the kids grab handfuls of souls to take home. (One year, part of the seniors group had extra souls that didn’t end up in our hands. To make up for it, we sent the names on a Holy Land pilgrimage with a woman from our church’s choir.) Moms are encouraged to tape one onto each treat the kids received and help them pray for that person at home when they are allowed to eat it.
Resources for Catholic Halloween for Kids
The second year we had our party, we ran across a phenomenal resource from looktohimandberadiant.com. Not only is it packed with information about souls and Saints, it also brought home the power of the Holy Spirit for us. In it, it described part of the history of Halloween, or All Hallows’ Eve. Low and behold, trick-or-treating started with the poor who would knock on doors and ask for food in exchange for praying for a households’ dead. That’s when we knew why we had had the idea at all – it’s what Halloween was meant to be.