For me, Halloween or All Hallows’ Eve has always been magical -- and mystical. While Wikipedia is intent on explaining the difference between these two terms, I will explain how they are intertwined. I vividly remember my childhood Halloweens: the decorations, the costumes, going out after dark, and of course, the CANDY. So much candy! For me, there was magic in the air. Jack O’ Lanterns glowed on porches, children were transformed into costumed creatures, and did I mention candy? Full disclosure: I trick-or-treated until I was 28 because I loved it so much, and I didn’t want to let it go. All of this is the magical part. Even now as fall begins to encroach on summer, I sense Halloween in the air, dark clouds passing over the moon. The wind whispers “All Hallows’ Eve is coming.” Combine this with the colorful falling leaves, cooler air. and pumpkin spice lattes (!?), and I can feel the harvest season ending as the barren winter approaches.
Halloween bears the message that All Saints Day is imminent. As children, my brothers and I had to wait to trick or treat at our parish rectory until our pastor returned home from the Vigil Mass. So from an early age, the two days were connected for me. All Saints’ Day unites us to our spiritual ancestors—all the saints on the Church calendar and all the saints who are not, but who are no less important. This link to eternity and our complete union with the God who made us and loves us beyond all measure is the mystical part. I have no issue with going directly from the “secular” world of ghosts, pumpkins, and black cats to the sacredness of the saints. The whole ancient idea was on All Hallows’ Eve that the veil that separated the physical realm from the spiritual one was the thinnest. The two could intermingle. Magical meets mystical. This connection is why I carve Jesus pumpkins. It is my way of reminding people that Halloween is not merely a “secular” holiday. In Franciscanism, all of nature comes from God, so there is no secular. All created things are sacred. God’s fingerprint is on every living thing—when we choose to see it.