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Throwback Thursday: Halloween a mixture different traditions

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A clipping from the Oct. 28, 1949 edition of The Catholic Telegraph-Register contrasts Christian and pagan imagery associated with Halloween. (CT File)
A clipping from the Oct. 28, 1948 edition of The Catholic Telegraph-Register contrasts Christian and pagan imagery associated with Halloween. (CT File)

Staff Report

Though the origins of Halloween are tied up with the Christian feast of All Saints on Nov. 1 (hence All Hallows Eve, Oct. 31), the present celebration of the holiday is often more focused on candy and costumes. The full history of the celebration of course goes back further than this Throwback Thursday is meant to chronicle.

Dressing up as a superhero, prince or princess, or even one’s favorite saint is a fairly harmless way for children to have some fun. 

However, the holiday has also been a source of mischief. Today is Oct. 30, often called “Mischief Night” in the U.S. As far back as the Oct. 28, 1948 edition of The Catholic Telegraph-Register, stories chronicled the Catholic response to some of Halloween’s less savory antics.

The main image with this article is from the aforementioned 1948 edition that asked the question, “Halloween—Christian Vigil or Pagan Revel?”

A young boy dressed as the superhero sidekick Robin rests in a pumpkin patch in this undated CT file photo.

The clipping contrasts an image of a witch with an illustration of a passage from the text of the Mass of the Vigil of All Saints. The Latin translates as “The saints shall rejoice in glory.”

Below the images reads the following:

Shopkeepers who grumble as they wash soap from their windows on Nov. 1 should know that the real source of Halloween shenanigans is the un-Christian spirit that has distorted a Christian observance, the vigil of All Saints’ day, to a night for pagan pranks. Halloween was originally observed with reverence as the eve of All Hallows, or All Saints’ day. Superstition led to the belief that spirits, particularly mischievious spirits whose sanctity could be doubted, were abroad on Halloween and that they played damaging tricks. To lend credence to this belief, flesh-and-blood allies of the imaginary spirits began the vandalism that now marks every Halloween.

Brother Joseph Gripkey is shown with part of the harvest of his pumpkin crop at national headquarters of the Glenmary Home Missioners. (CT File)

The Nov. 6, 1953 edition discussed Holy Family parish in Cincinnati’s efforts to thwart vandalism with a “No Damage Club” for students. The club members sang a “No Damage” song to the tune of the Marine anthem and signed pledges remembering the golden rule. According to the story, it worked and less damage was reported.

In the Oct. 8, 1966 edition,  the Archdiocesan Schools Office recommended curtailment of trick or treat and other Halloween activities to daylight hours only because of a rash of crime in Hamilton County.

But it isn’t always doom and gloom in the Halloween archives of The Catholic Telegraph. We’ve included several photos of youth and adults having fun with pumpkins with this post. Similar photos fill more than one folder of space.

Finally, this Halloween-based Throwback Thursday ends with a recipe from the Oct. 31, 1958 edition for “Spooky Treats.” According to the accompanying story, “these candies, although they look a mystery, are easily made.”

1 pkg Betty Crocker peanut creme or chocolate fudge frosting mix. Empty contents of frosting mix package into top of double boiler. Stir in 1/4 cup boiling water. Heat five minutes over rapidly boiling water, stirring occasionally. Stir in 2 cups of cocoa puffs. Drop by teaspoonfuls onto waxed paper. Makes four dozen.


A recipe from 1958 for "spooky treats." (CT File)

Welcome to The Catholic Telegraph’s edition of Throwback Thursday. Throwback Thursday is a weekly online activity wherein users of social media share an old photo or anecdote about times gone by. We use Throwback Thursday to highlight the history of the Archdiocese of Cincinnati, and our publication.

Previous Throwback Thursdays
Four area bishops installed in 1945
Habemus John Paul II

The death of a Pope
Guardian Angels artist was spot on
Catholic prep football in the CT
Archbishop Bernadin makes the Tribune
Sept. 11, 2001
Computers all the rage in 1983
English permitted in some rituals

Posted Oct. 30, 2014 


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