As early as September, 100-yen shops have already prominently displayed their Halloween wares- costumes, masks, accompanying props of scary creatures. Next, the Mayor of Shibuya City released a directive addressing young peole, “Do not gather in Shibuya Crossing on the last weekend of October!” Shibuya is well known for rowdy crowds. Indeed, Halloween has become very popular in Tokyo. Social media and commercialism have made it so.
As Church, can we do something so that young minds and hearts get to understand that Halloween is linked to the Catholic Church? That the word “hallows” is just an old English way of saying “holy” for “saints”? Thus, All Saints Day was called “All Hallows Day” (November 1) and the night before came to be called “All Hallows Eve” (October 31) (Halloween)?
On October 29, a “Halloween Mass for Children” was celebrated in the 12 noon English Mass. The name probably raised eyebrows of some parents and adults. Well, during the Mass, no scary ghosts or pumpkins appeared. Children in cosplay costumes marched to the tune of “And when the Saints, Came Marching In”. It was actually an “ALL SAINTS’ DAY MASS” celebrated by Fr. Bony James, SJ and Fr. Iriniel Dobos, Franciscan Conventual. They explained to the children (and adults as well) the origin of Halloween and how it is linked to All Saints’ Day. And before the end of the Mass all children were blessed.
Third Sunday of October, the topic of the Sunday School class was on “SAINTS”. Our Catechists with much zeal and creativity talked about who are. Are they real? They were also asked who they know. Why did they become saints? Those baptized in Japan were asked if they know their Christian names (reimei), only to find out that most of them were named after saints. They were encouraged to look for more information about them or ask their parents why they chose that name for them.
It was the first time in St. Ignatius that an “All Saints Mass for Children” was held. St. Ignatius of Loyola, the Patron Saint of our Church, once said, “use, every method, every opportunity” to bring people to God. The Halloween event, held October 29, was one! It was to help our young generation to journey towards God. So, who says Halloween is not a cool Christian celebration?