Wednesday, October 31, 2007

All Hallows' Eve

Growing up, I heard every once in a while that the word Halloween was derived from a contraction of the phrase All Hallows' Eve, but that never had much significance for me since I had no idea what All Hallows' Eve meant in the first place. It makes a lot more sense now that I realize that hallow is an old word for saint and that October 31 is the day before the Catholic solemnity All Saints' Day, a day when the faithful on earth remember and honor all those members of the Mystical Body of Christ who have gone before us and are now in Heaven. This feast has its roots in the Catholic understanding of the communion of saints. As the Catechism of the Catholic Church says:

"We believe in the communion of all the faithful of Christ, those who are pilgrims on earth, the dead who are being purified, and the blessed in heaven, all together forming one Church." (CCC 962, quoting Paul VI)

(Almost entirely unrelated side note: I have a vague memory of being chastised by my kindergarten teacher for spelling Halloween like this: Hall-o-ween. Come on. I think she should have been impressed that I got that close as a five-year-old. Or maybe I was in third grade . . . )

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