All Saints Day is one of the earliest feast days celebrated by Christians. It officially began being celebrated on November first in 844 C.E., but it had been celebrated since the fourth century. Halloween is a combination of the words Hallow and Wen and means the eve before All Saints. Both Christians and non-Christians alike believed the end of October to be the beginning of winter. This was considered to be the season of evil spirits since it brought with it cold, hunger, illness, and death in the very dark days. So fires were light to ward off the spirits that they believed would come out on October 31st since it was the beginning of their season to dance and play tricks. It became customary to dress up as this evil and participate in the pranks. The people were even joined by a mythical character named Jack who scared off evil with a turnip he carved and put a candle in.
At midnight, the start of All Saints, Christians would process to the church, lay their costumes at the door, and have a prayer vigil renewing their baptismal vows. This was a time to remember that although evil existed in the world it was indeed defeated by the cross and that this was attested to by the great cloud of witnesses. Christians were encouraged to renounce evil and be holy as the Saints of the church had been holy. This celebration also continued into November 2, All souls day, when all of those who had died, but especially those who had died in the past year were remembered.
There has in recent years been some disconnect in these celebrations, especially since we celebrate All Saints/Souls day on the Sunday closest to November first rather than on the day itself every year. But the connection is a beautiful one. Even children understand the drama that is acted out on Halloween, sometimes better than adults. In this way, all who choose to celebrate Halloween are provided a rich opportunity to teach children that although we acknowledge the evil in our world we have the opportunity to take off our masks and remember who wins this world and our hearts.