The practice of wearing costumes on Halloween may have originated in the Celtic festival of Samhain, which has ancient, pre-Christian origins and was celebrated in various Celtic nations. This time of year was a transitional season between the light of summer and the dark of winter, a time when the spirits could easily roam the world to seek final vengeance on their enemies. Costumes were a way for people to disguise themselves to ward off evil spirits as they believed the spirits would not recognize them in costume.
Another explanation for dressing in costumes at this time of year is derived from the medieval celebrations of All Hallows’ Eve. To honor the saints and martyrs, individuals paraded through the streets with statues and replicas of the martyred saints. Some of the less wealthy churches could not afford relics, and so the people dressed up like saints instead.
No matter which origin you believe, dressing in costume is part of the fun of our modern day Halloween celebration. The question is: Are you dressing in costume at Halloween or do you hide behind a costume at other times?
A few months ago during our ministry travels, we joined our host family for Mass. As soon as Mass was finished the youngest bolted into the men’s room to change his shirt. I asked his mom about it and she replied that he was uncomfortable in his “church shirt” and wanted to get comfortable as fast as possible.
At that time, I thought of what a great challenge this child presented to adults. How many times do we go to Mass and put on our “church clothes” of being pious and holy only to take those “church clothes” off the minute we walk out of the church doors? How often have we gotten angry with fellow parishioners in our rush to get out of the parking lot as quickly as possible? Can we even recall the message in the homily when our feet reach the parking lot surface? Do we leave church to go out to breakfast and spend money we don’t have? How do we live the message of the Gospel in our day-to-day lives?
Just like the emperor in the children’s story “The Emperor’s New Clothes,” we can fool ourselves into thinking that we are wearing our “church clothes” when we leave the church building, but others can see that we are really wearing nothing. They can see beyond our exterior to our heart and discern that we are not acting in a way that aligns with our faith. Many people wear costumes when it comes to their finances. They pretend that they have more money and resources than they really do. They put on their wealth costumes to impress friends and neighbors, turning away from their plans of Biblical stewardship.
Costumes are not made to be worn every day. Eventually you will have to face the reality that you are living a make-believe life. The longer it takes to face reality, the harder the recovery will be.
If you plan to put on church clothes, don’t wear them as a costume to impress others, but make those church clothes something you wear every day—something that will have an impact far beyond the fun of Halloween. “Put on the armor of God so that you may be able to stand firm against the tactics of the devil. For our struggle is not with flesh and blood but with the principalities, with the powers, with the world rulers of this present darkness, with the evil spirits in the heavens. Therefore, put on the armor of God, that you may be able to resist on the evil day and, having done everything, to hold your ground. So stand fast with your loins girded in truth, clothed with righteousness as a breastplate, and your feet shod in readiness for the gospel of peace. In all circumstances, hold faith as a shield, to quench all [the] flaming arrows of the evil one. And take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.” (Ephesians 6:11-17)
Dressing up in costumes is fun at Halloween, but in our everyday lives, we need to clothe ourselves in a way that every deed, thought and appearance clearly indicates we are children of God—even as it pertains to how we handle our finances. Learn more about Biblical stewardship from Compass Catholic today.