Is Halloween the Devil’s Day? Catholic Perspective from Dr Taylor

Panagium vs Pandaemonium?

Is Halloween the Devil’s Day? Let’s break it down and see how Satan is trying to steal our Catholic holidays. Ready?

As you know, Halloween is short for All-Hallows-Even. “Even” or “Eve” refers to the evening before the day.

halloween saint

Christmas Eve is the night before December 25. Similarly, Hallows Eve is the night before November 1, the Catholic festival of All Saints.

This holy day of obligation was once known as “All Hallows” since “hallow” is a more ancient form of “holy.” For example, “hallowed by thy name” means “holy is thy name.”

All Saints = All Hallows. In fact, November 1 was once called “Hallowmas.” For those linguists out there, hallowed comes from the Old English word haligra which fell out of use before AD 1500. Those who know German will recognize it’s similarity to heiliger.

Is Halloween the Devil’s Day? Is it Evil?

There are some Christians who have written off Halloween per se as some sort of diabolical black mass.  This interpretation usually includes a legend of how the Catholic Church conspired with druids to corrupt Europe, or some other nonsense.

To be clear, it’s the vigil of a Christian holy day: All Hallows’ Eve or All Saints Eve. Has it been corrupted by our culture and consumer market? You bet. But they have also attempted to redefine “marriage,” Easter, Christmas, St Valentines, and increasingly Ash Wednesday.

Yes, Christmas has also been derailed by the culture. Does that mean that we’re going hand over Christmas? No way! Same goes for Halloween. The Church does not surrender what rightfully belongs to her – she wins it back!

Hell is on defense since Jesus Christ came. It’s the “gates of hell.” Gates are defensive. We are supposed to be storming the gates of hell. The sacrament of Confirmation commissions us as soldiers.

Pandaemonium: Here’s your Greek word of the week

The word Pandaemonium derives from Greek “παν”, meaning “all” and “δαιμόνιον”, meaning “little devil.” Pandaemonium means “All Devils.”

John Milton imagined Pandaemonium as the capital city of Hell in Book I of his Paradise Lost (1667).

Milton was an Arian, but his Paradise Lost is a pretty cool book. If you’re a Member of NSTI, you should read it and let me know if you think his Arianism bleeds through the pages. Also, check out Milton’s Satan Trinity.

The Devil would love to take over the feast day “All Saints” and rebrand it as “All Devils” or “Pandaemonium.” Are we going to let him? Hell no [pun intended]. All the Saints are ready for battle.

Watch Dr. Taylor’s Youtube Video: Dracula vs. the Eucharist.
How do All the Saints hear us from Heaven? Free mp3 from Dr Taylor answering this question: Click here to listen (mp3).

Let’s take back the entire “Hallow Triduum” of:

  1. Halloween (Oct 31)
  2. All Saints Day (Hallowmas Nov 1)
  3. All Souls Day (Nov 2)

Celebrate Hallows Eve, but clarify “We don’t celebrate it by glorifying the demonic.” Dress your children as saints and be counter-cultural. Be leaven in the lump. Salt in the world. Be hallowed.

Oh, and don’t forget All Hallows (Nov 1) is a Holy Day of Obligation. It’s a mortal sin not to attend Holy Mass on this day (unless it is lawfully transferred by the bishops).

Don’t forget to read my 10 Tips for a Catholic Halloween by clicking here.

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  • Carol Streeter Fox

    Soon we will put all “to bed” outside, and we can be inside more. And I cannot wait to catch up on all that comes into my e-mail box from you. But I took the time to read this e-mail from you about Halloween. I was sure to post to my Facebook page. Dr. Taylor, you make it all so easy to understand. THANK YOU! So my learning continues, as does my evangelizing. God Bless.:)

  • TellUsAboutIt

    Thank you for explaining how Christians should view Halloween.

    The problem here, and with many other discussions of this type in the Catholic media, is that they neglect to discuss the real and present dangers in the way the vast majority, including Catholics, actually celebrate Halloween.

  • Kevin Richards

    In regard to the missing a Holy Day of Obligation as being a sin, just clarifying the 3 conditions for a mortal sin…it is not a priori a mortal sin but has the potential to be based upon that it is grave matter…

    • FourMysteries

      Any time an obligatory Mass is missed on purpose (Sundays & HDofO) it is a mortal sin.
      The only exceptions are when you are sick OR are taking care of a sick person. And if the reason is beyond your control (like your car breaking down on the way to Mass).

      • Kevin Richards

        I agree, it is gravely wrong to miss a Sunday/HDO Mass – as someone who works in the field of religious education where the majority of children/families do not regularly attend obligatory Masses, I have to wonder if they are committing mortal sins (the parents that is), not because it is not grave matter, but if they have full knowledge and consent to commit the sin, based upon cyclical ignorance/poor catechesis that perhaps could be a mitigating factor?

      • Aaron Siering

        It is true that it would be a mortal sin if things were always perfectly black and white, but it is also true that we sin whenever we aren’t perfect obedient to the Church. However at one point does this sin become mortal that is completely divorce us once again from a relationship with God? Most “Catholics” who don’t attend mass regularly don’t really understand what they are rejecting. So they aren’t really in possession of full knowledge of both the sin and the gravity of the offense. Nevertheless the weight of cumulative sins in people who miss Mass regularly will eventually add up to behavior the sinfulness of which can’t ignored and for which they know on some level is profoundly wrong. At some point their relationship with God really is severed so that only an act of contrition and confession can restore it.

        I guess my point with this comment is that it seems that a distinction between venial and mortal sin is a distinction that is often too unproductive to make. I side with the Eastern Catholic Churches on this question. Theologically it is interesting, but in practice it is often too simplistically conceive to be any real spiritual benefit for that person.

        We shouldn’t miss Mass. Every missed mass is an opportunity like no other. For those “Catholics” who do manage to make it even to purgatory ever missed Mass will be an object the profoundest regret.

  • Katherine

    I’ve read that the custom of trick-or-treating came from Europe centuries ago. The pagans used to go around to the Christian monasteries, all Catholic in those days, and beg for something. They knew that the Christians HAD to do something good for them. If they didn’t, the pagans would kill them, burn the monasteries down, or some other hideous act. I think they left some sort of mark at the place if they obliged or didn’t, which is where the pumpkin head came from. Nowadays, America has commercialised it to the nth degree. Unfortunately, it’s becoming popular in Australia now. Although, only in ad brochures. Only a few kids go around door to door here, and only very rarely. Praise the Lord.
    Please pray for my mother, Audiene, who died in March this year. Her first born boy died on All Souls’ Day in 1954, which she always remembered devotedly.

  • Lorry Davis

    I really wish these articles could have been posted a week ago, prepping for RCIA, would have been a lot better! All I could find on All Saints Day and All Soul’s Day was from years past! Good article!!!!!!

    • Stephanie

      Well, at least it will be up for next year’s RCIA classes. 🙂

  • Truth Seeker

    If you dress your kid up like a saint then they’re just going to get beat up by kids dressed like zombies and vampires.

  • Aaron Siering

    I am taking a class on John Milton now and we just finished up a fairly in depth study of Paradise Lost…. The whole phenomena of Protestantism is exceedingly complex and complicated. I have to wonder if not like the Crucifixion, itself, God brings a good, out of Protestantism, that is even more tremendous than its evil.

    I must add here that I understand both Rabbinical Judaism and Islam to be forms of Protestation as well, I call them proto-Protestantisms, and I am working on a theology of Protestantism that will define the patterns these three forms of protestation which all derive from different causes, e.g. the outright rejection of the Messiah or the acceptance of a false revelation about the Messiah.

    The things that all Protestantisms have in common is a lack of a single authority for their tradition and the privileging of scripture, which fundamentally distorts its very purpose that ultimately places it over the only true source of authority for tradition, which is of course the Church, who consequently is also the only proper source of all scripture as well. In other words one can’t adopt that attitude one does to the various texts, be it the Torah, the Qur’an or the canonical scriptures themselves without rejecting the Church the true container of “the word of God” which is the oral text Jesus actually spoke and those properly inspired by the Holy Spirit–ironically it has largely been evangelical protestant scholars who have been a major source of my understanding of scriptural authority given as understood as a product of oral culture.

    The end result of all of this is that all these forms of Protestantisms take an attitude to texts that Catholics should understand as inappropriate. It is interesting to observe that Protestants, Rabbinical Jews and Muslims all use their texts the same way, and in a way fundamentally different than do Christians, i.e. Catholics.

    Now, this has everything to do with John Milton because of the time he lived and the fact that he was dead smack in the middle of reformation Protestant thought.

    John Milton was as you say very likely an Arian, but regardless of this he was also a Protestant in the larger context of Protestantism. In studying Milton and the beginning of Western Philosophy (and science) through Francis Bacon, Issac Newton, and John Locke among others one becomes conscious of an underlying zeitgeist: it wasn’t only a Protestation against the Church but against tradition more generally especially scholasticism. In a nutshell the true object of the protest in the Christian Protestantism of the age was the way tradition works politically in oral culture. Something largely still retained by the Church and something for which we have to accept as Catholics as man’s proper political formation.

    Having said all of this it seems that in many respects Paradise Lost is suitably ambiguous to allow for a Catholic reading without too much strain. For example, in Milton’s mind there is probably little doubt that Pandaemonium is, at least in part, a symbol of both Pagan Rome and what he would consider the Pagan influences of the Church of Rome. It is easy however for Catholic readers to ignore this association if indeed it was consciously intended by Milton.

    What Milton gets right in Paradise Lost is human nature. It is a poem that is very novelistic in that it deals with expresses a deep understanding of the psychology of the characters and deals with their change.

    It is also a deeply ironic work. Almost no one is a trusted source of information in Paradise Lost–that is you can’t take what anyone says at face value. Even what God says in the poem has to be read in light that God was speaking to Adam in the context of Adam’s understanding. Meaning is really only to be found in the in-between of the various perspectives. It is very much a poem of difference. This is most notable in the changing and troubled relationships of Adam and Eve.

    One problem for me as a Catholic is that way that Adam and Eve relate even before the fall. It seems to be predicated upon a type of disruption of community, i.e. their communion, that I accept as consequence of original sin and not its cause. What I don’t know yet because I haven’t been able to do a close enough reading of the poem is if his gender theology and theology of marriage is really something that is fundamentally at odds with Catholic dogma. Again the poem through its use of irony is so ambiguous that many defensible readings are possible, and since he was such a keen observer of human nature it is possible that he got it all right despite himself.

    It is also possible that despite his Arianism and his Protestantism more generally he really was inspired by the Holy Spirit and got it right for that reason too. One of the things I wrestle with my theological speculations about Proto-Protestantism and Protestantism is that it is hard to deny that Protestants, Jews and Muslims do actually seem to be able to attain to true knowledge. I have learned many things about scripture from both Protestant and Jewish scholars, and I have to acknowledge that despite itself Islamic culture is, actually more often than not, not completely demonic.

    Science today informs my theology as much as any other source. It is type filter actually we place over the other sources to see them rightly, and even the political innovations of Protestantism have seem to have been of real benefit. It is hard to know whether this spirit of rebellion at heart of all Protestantism is being orchestrated by a supernatural intelligence that actually constantly works to undermine truth or if we have nothing to fear from such a spirit because God will always produce a greater good from it in the end despite ourselves, and so consequently it is hard to know if a book like Paradise lost is subversive or conducive.

    However maybe you were asking a much more simple question like is the work a Arian polemic? Well I can tell you that I’ve read the poem in some real depth and so far I can’t tell you if there is anything in it that logically contradicts a Trinitarian reading of it. Certainly then for a casual reader if they bring a Trinitarian belief with them will be able to read the work without be contradicted.