By PPL Board member, Patricia Lee June, MD
The end of October abounds with preparations for Trick-or-Treat on Halloween and Day of the Dead parties, using skeletons, zombies, witches and other frightening death-focused images. How can parents promote a respect for life in their children during holidays that celebrate a culture of death?
Scripture refers to believers in Jesus Christ as “saints.” The first day of November is celebrated in the church as “All Saints Day” and the preceding day – that we now call “Halloween” - was originally known as ”Hallowed Eve” (as in “Hallowed be Thy name.” “Hallowed” is an Old English word for “holy” or “sacred.”) Use the open door of preparing this year’s Halloween treats to teach about All Saints Day and talk to your children about the saints of God – and especially the saints in your family.
Preparation: Think about your ancestors. Pick out two (one from their father’s side and one from their mother’s side) or one for each child. Find pictures, if available. Write down notes of what you know of each:
o When did they live and where?
o Who were their parents, siblings, spouse, children?
o What was their faith and how did it impact them and others? Did they suffer persecution for their faith?
o What were the major world events during their lifetimes that would have impacted them?
o What languages did they speak? Get a world map and maybe a more detailed map to find where they lived and moved. What kind of clothes did they wear? What did they eat? How did they prepare it?
o What are the family stories that have come down through the generations about them?
Older children can do research along with you – genealogy books, Ancestry.com, google maps, obituaries from old newspapers (which often contained character testimonials), older history books and even good historical fiction can include many details about ordinary life (but watch out, as many modern authors use “historical fiction” as a means to promote sexual misbehavior). Younger children will be more interested in hands-on, preparing food, dressing up, looking through family albums, playing games they played, etc.
Next year, ask the children what they remember and have a 2-minute review of your family saints. Then choose different ancestors for this year, preferably from a different line/time period.
An alternative is to pick some saints you know (maybe from your church) or from history and review their lives and how they witnessed to their faith.
October 31, Hallowed Evening, is also Reformation Day, the day Martin Luther nailed the 95 Theses on the church door that started the Reformation. You could have a party with each child dressing as a different saint (famous or familial) and give a brief story about the saint. It could also be a churchwide event, such as at the last Wednesday night supper in October. Finish with the hymn, “For All the Saints.”