“Hey Dad, what’s a Saint?”

“Don’t bother me son, Kentucky’s in the red zone – oh, a saint? He’s a player for New Orleans. They’re called “Saints”. It’s an NFL team.”

Mom interrupted, “They’re not all “Saints”. Two of them just got arrested for domestic violence, for beating their wives.”

Dad said, “Them women were probably mouthin’ off and deserved it. Some women never give a man any peace.”

Mon answered, “Son, Saints are people who respect others, help their neighbors, and don’t sit drinking a six-pack all day. What makes you ask about saints?”

The son said, “You mean saints are people? I thought they were dogs. At school, Bobby said his Saint Bernard was going to have puppies and they would be little saints. If saints are good, can’t we get one?”

“Over my dead body!’ growled Dad. “It will grow to be bigger than you are and eat like a horse.”

Mom said, “OK, my son, sit down and we will have a little history lesson.”

“On Sunday?”

“Sunday is the best day for saints. In churches, a long time ago, they wanted to honor extra-good, loving and brave people as role models. They called them “Saints” and started to give each one of them a special day of the year: men like Saint Luke and Saint Paul, women like Saint Agnes and Saint Catherine. But they had a problem. They soon had more Saints than there were days of the year.

For a time, they tried to celebrate two or three on the same day, but that got contentious which is hardly saintly behavior. Finally they decided on one great big religious party day and called it “All Saint’s Day” to honor all the Saints in one big bang. It still is November 1. The tradition grew and by the year 1500 or so, All Saint’s Day was almost as important as Christmas and Easter. The Roman Catholic Church celebrated High Mass. People paraded through the streets with banners and statues of their favorite Saint. (Today we might imagine them singing “Oh When the Saints go Marchin In.)

Unfortunately, things got out of hand. The day got connected to the Rapture and Christ’s Second Coming with Christ coming down to drive out Satan in a glorious victory. They believed that since November 1 would be God’s triumphal day, Then October 31 would be Satan’s last chance to do as much evil and harm as possible. The Devil would be doing double duty to tempt people and to lead them to Hell. He would open the graves and the bones of the dead would haunt you.

How could they escape the Devil’s ugly clutches? They reasoned, “The Devil may have my name on his list, but if he can’t identify me, then I’m safe. So I’ll wear a disguise, a mask and costume.” The church called October 31 “Holy Eve” (like Christmas Eve), which means a hallowed evening and that’s how Halloween came to be. So, my son, be safe when you are out there with your begging bag. Don’t double dip from the candy or you will have a Devil of a bellyache.”  

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