Halloween, All Saints & All Souls

Resources to help you understand why and how the Catholic Church celebrates the saints and prays for the dead in the month of November.

Halloween for many marks the beginning of “the holiday season” which in America includes the celebration of Thanksgiving in November and, of course, Christmas on December 25. October 31 is a day to dress up, eat candy, and celebrate our affinity for all that is “spooky” and even a bit macabre. But why do we do these things?

The name Halloween is actually a contraction of the name “All Hallows Eve” which is the evening before All Hallows Day, an archaic way of saying All Saints Day. This commemoration of all the saints takes place on November 1, and is followed by the commemoration of all the faithful departed, or All Souls Day, on November 2. Many of our secular Halloween traditions have their origins in the traditional ways Catholic peoples have celebrated the souls in heaven and remembered to pray for the souls in purgatory.

What is the role of the saints, those souls who now enjoy the beatific vision of God in heaven? What is purgatory, and why is it a “good and pious thought to pray for the dead” as the scriptures attest (2 Mac 12:46)? To help answer these questions and to learn more about the Catholic celebrations of Halloween, All Saints and All Souls Day, we’ve put together a resource list of YouTube videos from our own channel and other places. We hope you enjoy!

Hallowtide & the Communion of the Saints – by Deacon Matt
Indulgences, Purgatory & Praying for the Dead – by Deacon Matt
The Catholic Origins of Halloween – from the Catholic Talk Show
How Should Catholics Celebrate Halloween – by Fr. Josh Johnson at Ascension Presents
Are Ghosts Real? – by Catholic apologist Jimmy Akin