All Saints Day is a Catholic holy day of obligation observed every year on November 1. This day of solemnity is a time to honour and celebrate all of God's saints, whether they are known to the church and canonised, or have not yet been recognised. Engage children in activities to celebrate the saints on this day and help establish a tradition of observing All Saints Day.
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All Hallow's Eve, better known as Halloween, is the eve of All Saints Day. Originally a pagan festival, the church Christianized the event to keep people's focus on God by honouring his saints. In modern times, however, Halloween has become a secular celebration of horror and gore. Christians can reclaim this holiday for their children by combining All Saints Day with some clean, fun Halloween traditions. Instead of devils and ghouls, have children dress as saints and other religious figures. Play religious trivia games and take time out for a prayer, such as the "Litany of the Saints."
Get out the arts and crafts supplies and make saint displays for your home or classroom. Allow children to decorate paper dolls, craft spoons, finger puppets or cardboard human figure cut-outs as their favourite saints. Make a display of the saints on your notice board, in a window or on a shelf in your home. If you have many children gathering together for this activity, hold a parade of saints so that they can show them off to parents and parishioners. Let children walk through the hallways or around the grounds holding up their saint crafts.
A traditional treat for this feast is known as a soul cake. During the Middle Ages, children and poor people would go door-to-door singing prayers for the dead, and people would offer them a soul cake, a little spiced pastry with a cross on it. This is the origin of trick or treating. As tradition held, each cake given represented a soul being freed from purgatory and going to Heaven. Bake soul cakes with your children and wrap the cakes in treat bags to share with friends and family.
Make a special effort on All Saints Day to attend Mass with your children. Being a holy day of obligation, it should be treated with reverence and respect; going to Mass not only demonstrates the solemnity of the occasion, but helps bring Christians together in community to honour those who have followed the will of God. While there, take some time before or after Mass to light a candle and say a prayer in honour of your favourite saint.
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