Today is Halloween and celebrations will be taking place across the world this weekend to honor this occasion. Some of the celebrations will have secular focus, while other celebrations will have a sacred focus, and still others will be a wonderful combination of both. This unique combination of secular and sacred celebrations is due to the fact that Halloween is always celebrated one day before All Saints Day (November 1) and two days before All Souls Day (November 2), both important holy days in the Christian faith. Another name for All Saints Day is All Hallows, and so the evening before All Hallows came be known as Hallows Eve, which was then morphed to Halloween. These two holy days, All Saints and All Souls, are times when people remember and make holy (the meaning of the word hallow) the memories of the lives of the saints, known and unknown, and the memories of loved ones who have all departed this life.
So given the unique combination of secular and sacred celebrations that mark this time of year, how might we honor both? How can we make this a, “both and,” rather than an, “either or,” experience. One suggestion is to both fully enjoy the fun Halloween celebrations and activities that come our way and to at some point this weekend pause to reflect on what we hallow, what we hold to be sacred in our lives. It seems an especially appropriate time to pause and remember those whom we “love but see no longer,” those whom we miss and whose memory and spirit we wish to honor and celebrate. You might want to write about your memories or speak them out loud to a friend or loved one. You might want to say a special prayer of thanksgiving for their presence in your life.
This time of year might also be a good time to celebrate the sacred gift of the friends and loved ones who are still very much with us and without whom our lives would be greatly diminished. The saintliness and soulfulness of these people are what gives our lives their unique richness and thickness. There is no need to wait for our friends and loved ones to pass on to remind them of how sacred and hallowed they are in our lives.
So let’s live it up this weekend. Let’s fully celebrate the tricks and fun that are part of Halloween and let’s fully celebrate the treats of friends and loved ones, both living and departed, who make our lives sacred, hallowed, and holy.