Friday, November 2, 2012

Celebrating Halloween and All Saints' Day Differently by Focusing on the Saints

I've mentioned in my previous post here that we don't participate in the usual Halloween costume parties or trick or treat activities.  You may click here to find out why.  This year, aside from our yearly tradition of having activities to introduce a saint or two to our kids, we decided to join a "different" Halloween party for our homeschooling group called ROCKERS.  Our group had this activity last year also but I was about to give birth then so we did not join. Last year we introduced St. Peter to our eldest son.  We made paper boats and he played with them, floating them in a basin of water last year after a storytelling session about St. Peter.  He got to "play" with his uncle's (my brother's) rooster. 
I was really looking forward to letting the kids join this "different" Halloween party as soon as my fellow homeschooling teachermama Tina announced it. But when I found out that my husband still has work on the day that the party was to be held, I wasn't sure anymore. The venue is quite far from where we live.  Plus commuting with two kids and their costume and props was something I wasn't enthusiastic to do. But God knows my heart and so He inspired and moved my husband to choose to file for a half day leave on the day of the party.  My husband told me about this decision he made a day before the party.  I was so delighted and excited!  I hurriedly checked around the house on the possible costumes and props the kids can wear and use.  Good thing I had been reading a lot of blog posts from other Catholic/Christian moms who had planned and participated in these kinds of parties.  By God's grace, I was able to put together costumes for my kids at the last minute.
What makes this Halloween party different?  Why did my husband and I choose to let our kids join it?
Our kids with their Dad who took a
leave from work so we can join the party.
The first reason is that it centers on the "hallow" or holy people who have gone ahead of us, the Saints, and kids are encouraged to dress up as one of the Saints.  No gory, scary costumes, not even superhero costumes.  The kids' focus are turned to real heroes, the Saints, who lived inspiring holy lives, doing good to others and loving God in their own unique ways.  The second reason is that there were activities that were designed to help the kids learn more about the Saints. And last but not the least, this was organized by parents who like me and my husband want to educate their children on this beautiful heritage and tradition of our Catholic faith.  As the saying goes, "It takes a village to raise a child."  We are grateful and glad that we are part of this "village."
Our kids had so much fun even before we got to the party.  They had fun trying out possible costumes and playing with their props.  Preparing for their costumes and props as well was a good opportunity to explain to my eldest son about the Saints and the feast day. 
So, which Saints did my little boys pretend to be?

Yanthy as little St. Joseph
with his carpenter tools.

Initially, I thought of dressing up Yanthy as St. Pedro Calungsod because I wanted to introduce this new Filipino Saint to our son and Yanthy already has a camisa chino, black slacks and sandals.  We even watched a video about him.  But I ended up dressing Yanthy as St. Joseph the Carpenter and Foster Father of Jesus.  I chose this Saint for him because he loved to pretend to be a carpenter/builder or handyman.  He has plenty of carpenter or handyman tools too.  Thus, my only challenge was his costume.  Good thing I read in several mommy blogs that an easy and environment friendly way to come up with a costume for a Bible character is to use old pillow cases.  That's what I did on the day before the party.  I chose two old pillow cases and cut holes on them (for the neckline and armholes).  Then, I reinforced the stitches.  I also looked for potential belts for their DIY robes.  I originally meant to use Yanthy's leather belt but my husband suggested that we use a cloth fabric instead. He suggested that we use one of our curtain ties. 
Our baby Mateo as little St. Peter
holding some keys.
For our baby Mateo, I used an old and broken curtain rope as his belt. I cut it short enough to be tied around his waist.  As for their cloaks, I used a old brown scarf with gold dust for Yanthy and a yellow baby blanket with red piping and rooster/chicken design for Mateo since Mateo is dressing up as St. Peter the Great.  Mateo's blanket was a gift from Max's restaurant where we held his baptismal reception.  I was also thinking of letting him hold a chicken/rooster stuffed toy (which was also a gift from Max's together with the yellow blanket) but he kept dropping it as he walked.  I got some keys for Mateo's props too and he was very happy to play with it and shake it as he walked around the house during our costume and props dry run. Then, I let them wear earth-colored sandals.  We were all set!
We arrived in the venue early.  The kids put on their costumes as soon as we arrived. Yanthy decorated his loot bag and Mateo's loot bag by sticking a picture of their Saints on a brown bag.  He did some coloring activity (a St. Pedro Calungsod coloring page) as well.  He was not able to finish it though because he was so excited to play around and with the other kids.  Mateo was busy walking around in his costume and playing with his keys. 
Yanthy playing Canonize a Saint.

The party started with a parade of the little saints, an opening prayer led by one of the older kids and some songs.  They played some games like canonize a Saint, St. Anthony de Padua's lost and found game and St. Paul says.  Yanthy got to "canonize" St. Therese and he found two medals, St. Martha and St. Lucy. 

Mateo played with Pedrito doll
while the games were going on.
Yanthy's eyes glued to the screen
while watching a video.
The last two activities before eating and free play were watching a video about a day in the life of St. Francis of Assissi and bookreading/storytelling by Teachermama Tina. 
Yanthy enjoys one of the goodies he got while listening to the story.
Mateo listens to the story while Daddy carries him.
The kids also got a lot of goodies and tokens (also related to our Catholic faith) for joining the activity. 
The children played some more before we closed with a prayer.  Our kids had so much fun!  I'm so glad that we got to join this year. 
Happy little saints!
My eldest son kept asking me on our way home when we'd see our friends again and when we'd go back to Medela house for our next homeschool group gathering.  I guess a new tradition for our family has been born this year.
Little saints of God, little friends of God.

The following day, we woke up our eldest son by playing the song Sing for Joy by Don Moen which is one of my children's current favorites.  Yanthy pointed out the other day that this song has the word saints in its lyrics.  So, on All Saints' Day morning, Mateo together with me and his Dad woke up Yanthy with this song. 
They also played some musical instruments while singing more worship songs like Friend of God.  I wanted our sons to get used to singing praise and worship songs here on earth since that is something we would be doing in heaven anyway. ;) So, why not get used to it or practice now?

While my sons were singing and playing musical instruments with their Dad, I was busy preparing for our art activity.  I printed some faces of Saints from  Yanthy and I used them in making a cloud of witnesses collage. 

It was also an opportune time for me to talk more about the Saints as Yanthy and I cut the circles and glued them on white cartolina.  In the past years, we only introduced one to two Saints to Yanthy since he was still very young.  This year, through this activity, I got to introduce more Saints to him.  But I still focused on St. Joseph and St. Peter.
Our cloud of witnesses/Saints collage.

Played with his tools for a few minutes
before taking a nap.
 Later in the afternoon after nap time, we had some chocolate donuts at a nearby store and talked some more about the Saints/monks who had hair styles that look like those donuts. :)
After dinner, we went to celebrate Mass as a family and ended our All Saints' Day celebration with a story on the life of the Holy Family with emphasis on the virtues of St. Joseph.
I slept with joy in my heart knowing that even with our simple activities, my husband and I have done our share in doing our best to raise little saints for God.  I pray that with these simple activities and family rituals/traditions, my sons would grow to love their faith and live holy lives for God. 

Let me end this post by sharing a very timely Bible verse (Psalm 90:12) as we celebrate All Souls Day here in the Philippines.

"So teach us to number our days, that we may acquire a wise heart." (God's Word Translation)

"Teach us to realize the brevity of life, so that we may grow in wisdom." (New Living Translation)

When we remember that our lives will end one day and that we do not know the time or the hour when this would happen, we would be more mindlful and deliberate with how we live our lives. We will live our lives with purpose. For life is too precious to be wasted on things or activities that will not bring us closer to our goal, which is heaven. 


  1. Celebrating Halloween and All Saints' Day Differently by Focusing on the Saints......that should be...thumbs up.