Fill this year’s Halloween celebration for your kids with prayers for the dead on the Feast of All Souls Day. Kids go trick-or-treating to collect names of those who have passed away in addition to candy.
Somehow, despite our moms group’s tiny size, we’ve managed a fantastic, fair-like All Souls and All Saints Day Party every year on the Monday before Halloween. It’s our way of bringing Catholic traditions back to these Catholic feast days. 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. I wanted to be in direct competition with the fun and excitement of secular Halloween celebrations.
Trick-or-Treating for Souls
The main event for every kid at Halloween 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 make it something that honors those who have gone before us, our group created what we call “trick-or-treating for souls”. Years later, we would find out that trick-or-treating started with the poor who would knock on doors and ask for food in exchange for praying for a households’ dead.
A week before the party, we hand out paper people cutouts to every office in the church and school. We ask that staff and clergy write the names of any deceased family or friends on the little shapes, one name per cutout.
There also happens to be a retirees group that does exercise at the same time as our moms group 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. They lavish our kids with ridiculous amounts of treats and the best oos and ahhs you’ve ever heard in addition to the names of departed loved ones who need prayers.
Those names on people cutouts (which I buy from the local teacher store) are 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 gather up all the paper people, place them on a prayer table, and sing part of the Divine Mercy Chaplet when we’re done with our trick-or-treating.
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.
The kids grab handfuls of souls to take home after praying as a group. 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. 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.
All Saints and All Souls Party Ideas for Very Young Kids
While trick-or-treating for souls is a favorite event for the kids, the moms, and all of the church staff, we have a whole laundry list of things we pack into the small space we use each week. Want more ideas for All Saints Day games and crafts for your next party? In addition to handing out this awesome resource from looktohimandberadiant.com and letting them decorate bags with this free printable, here’s what we do for ages 0-5 and their moms:
Saint Walk (Cake Walk, but Saints!)
Future Patron Saint Photo Booth
Fishers of Men Fishing Booth
Dia de los Meurtos Wreath Craft