Note: Yes, I know that Halloween isn't our All Saints Eve...we Byzantines will celebrate this on the First Sunday after Pentecost. We CAN, however, either use this planner to celebrate along with our western friends, OR plan our own All Saints Day party in June! (Watermelon O'Lanterns are so much more fun anyhow!) Both eastern and western saints are honored, making the planner useful for Homeschool, playgroup, or any at home Halloween parties!
Several years ago, when my teens were still quite small, I became active in the planning of our parish Halloween party for our ECF students. While setting things up, I was holding my youngest at the time, who was a baby boy of about 6 months. One of the students approached me wearing his costume, a bloody mask and mummy outfit, and my poor little one shook with fear, burying his sweet face deep into my shoulder! I was stunned that he, being as young as he was, would even notice, let alone feel such fear, and as his mother, I was ashamed. I never forgot that and I vowed from that moment on to be a better guardian of the sights my children would see at Halloween. We teachers discussed this experience at our next meeting and unanimously agreed that the pagan society in which we lived was gaining too great an influence on our parish children and that we would begin to do our very best to curb it in our classes.
Along came our annual All Saints Day Party! Gone were the witches, devils and ghouls! In came the Saints! Lots of them! Our children had tremendous fun and learned about the lives of some of the greatest witnesses for Christ and the most influential role-models of all time in the process. Over the years, my five children and dozens of students have come up with some really great costume ideas. We've concocted some really great activities, crafts and games to further cement the idea of holiness in the minds of our little party goers, and have fed them some great dishes from our "Saintly Buffet", as we liked to call it! I'd love to share some of these ideas with you.
Our Saintly Buffet
Each of the mothers in our group volunteered to send a dish. We marked it with an icon of the patron of the item and a brief description of the reason why.
St. Augustine Stuffed Shells: basic stuffed shell recipe.
St. Augustine was at the sea shore one day when he noticed a little child taking water from the ocean with a shell and pouring it into a hole in the sand. He approached the little one and said, " You'll never fit the entire ocean into that hole!" The little one, an angel in disguise, responded by answering the very question he had been pondering, "Neither will you fit the concept of the Trinity into your little human mind!"
St. Joseph's Sawdust Pasta: baked ziti topped with breadcrumbs
Saint Joseph was a carpenter who taught Our Lord to build things out of wood. How often the floor of his workshop must have been covered in sawdust!
St John Bosco's Grigio Dogs: hot dogs wrapped in biscuit dough
St. John Bosco had a grey dog who mysteriously appeared when danger would arise, and would disappear when he wasn't needed. He named him Grigio, meaning " Grey One" in Italian.
St. Lawrence Grilled Cheese: grilled cheese sandwiches
St. Lawrence was condemned to martyrdom by being grilled alive. He was so filled with the grace of the Holy Spirit that he reportedly told his executioners, "Hey, turn me over! I'm done on this side!"
Blood of the Martyrs: it's just ketchup! You need ketchup with hot dogs and grilled cheese, and when you label it this way, it not only reminds us of our friends, the martyrs, but it appeals to the older kids' sense of halloween macabre.
St. Andrew's Loaves and Fishes: tuna fish sandwiches
After hearing the Sermon on the Mount, the crowd that had gathered was hungry. A little boy offered St. Andrew his 5 loaves of bread and 2 fish to share. Christ used this gift to feed 5000 families!
St. John Chrysostom Golden Tongues: noodles and cheese
Chrysostom means "golden tongue". Our saint was often called this because of his excellence in communicating. He not only wrote our beloved Divine Liturgy, he gave wonderful sermons too!
St. Longinus Asparagus Spears: asparagus seasoned with lemon zest, s&p, wrapped in buttered phyllo and baked.
Longinus was the nearly blind centurion who plunged the lance into the already dead heart of our Lord on the cross. Legend has it that when the blood of Christ splattered into his eyes, his sight was restored and he converted on the spot.
St. Zacchaeus Broccoli Trees: broccoli floret "trees" with ranch dip. Zacchaeus was a tax collector who climbed a tree in order to see Our Lord who was passing by. Christ called out to him and forgave his sins.
St. Gianna Snap Peas: baby snap peas ( be sure to use the ones with the little peas inside!). St. Gianna was a physician who found she had cancer when she was expecting her fourth child. Rather than harm her baby and accept the harsh cancer treatment, she gave birth to a healthy baby girl and gave her own life in exchange.
St. George Shredded Coleslaw: When the emperor Diocletian issued a formal edict against Christianity and posted it in the central market place, St. George boldly took it down and tore it to shreds in the sight of everyone....shredded it, just like this coleslaw!
St. Lucy's Eyeballs: eyeball shaped candies, or cheese puff recipe stuffed with a pimento filled green olive to look like an eye. St. Lucy was sentenced to having her eyes put out as part of her martyrdom.
St. Dorothy Apple Cider: cider
St. Dorothy was sentenced to martyrdom in the dead of winter. A young man, Theophilus, scoffed at her, asking her to prove her God to him by sending roses or apples to him from the beyond after her death. She did, and he was converted.
Pope St. Orange Julius: In honor of Pope St. Julius the Great, its simply orange punch with vanilla ice cream!
Soul Cakes: Cupcakes! These look great mounded with ghostly white icing and two chocolate chip eyes! Children used to go from house to house begging for cakes in return for the prayers they would say for the souls of the departed of the homemaker's family on All Souls Day.
St. Francis of Assisi Praying Pretzels: Pretzels were invented by a monk, like St. Francis, who gave them as treats to good children during lent.
St. Nicholas Gold Chocolate Coins: St. Nick once threw bags of gold down a poor man's chimney to save the man's daughters from a life of sin.
St. John the Baptist Chocolate Bugs: krispie melted chocolate molded into insect shapes. This saint lived in the desert on a diet of locusts and wild honey.
St. Agatha of Sicily Volcanic Chocolate Bark: make a batch of chocolate bark swirling together some milk chocolate and red-colored chocolate, but with a hint of chili powder! ( we like ancho powder best!) When Agatha died, an angel,wrote on her tombstone, a marble slab, that one day she would save her countrymen from beyond the grave. One year from the date of her death, Mt. Vesuvius erupted and threatened her home town. The villagers remembered and ran toward the lava with the marble slab. The volcano stopped! The town was saved.
Crafts and Activities
Each of the crafts and activities had a placard in front of it, telling the student what it had to do with the saint it was named for.
Holy Soul Catapult: my all time favorite! Our party just would not be as fun without this activity! St. Gertrude the Great was told by Our Lord that each time someone would recite a particular prayer for the holy souls, He would grant that 1000 souls would be released from purgatory. We took this idea and ran with it! My father constructed a little catapult, onto which each student would toss a bean bag. ( the line for this event was always very, very long!) Before tossing it, the student would recite the prayer of St. Gertrude, releasing 1000 souls. (to aid in this, I stitched a copy of the prayer right onto the bag!). To complete the effect, we would place a blue bedsheet behind the catapult, illuminated by a flashlight under the sheet. After the recitation, the bean bag would be tossed, casting a little Holy Soul, (made from a bathroom tissue roll) up into the air to his blue bed sheet heaven! An older student would keep a tally of how many thousand souls were released by the combined efforts of the class and we would announce it at the end of the party.
St. Gertrude Prayer Bookmarks: this craft was so easy and so useful! We would print off copies of the St. Gertrude prayer and have the children cut them out and paste them onto some fall themed scrapbooking papers, which we cut into book-mark sized shapes. Next, the children could glue on a little foam holy soul we found at the craft store.
Jack O'Lantern magnets: easy enough. We attached a little paper sign which read, "May the souls of the Faithful Departed, through the Mercy of God, Rest in Peace!"
St. Ephrem the Syrian Handkerchiefs: girls loved this craft. Just have them do a basic blanket stitch with yarn around the edge of a men's plain white handkerchief.
It is said that St. Ephrem cried so many tears of contrition for his sins that, by the time of his death, there were permanent furrows down both of his cheeks!
St. Martha Clothespin Drop: St. Martha was known for her excellent housekeeping. Using a wide-mouth quart jar, hold a clothespin to your nose, bend at the waist, and see how many you can drop successfully into the jar. If you drop all three in, you win a prize!
12 Apostle Fishers of Men Game. For this game you will need to make a screen of cardboard or some other sturdy material, and decorate it to look like the sea. Next, you'll need to fashion a fishing pole out of a wooden dowel and some string. Onto the end of the string, you can attach a small plastic bag. Now for the fun part. The little apostles will cast their lines over the sea-screen. Someone waiting on the other side will drop a gingerbread man into the plastic bag and close it before the little saint reels it in!
Bobbing for St. Dorothy's Apples: as you already know, St. Dorothy is known to have sent roses and apples to a man named Theophilus from heaven in the dead of winter after her martyrdom. When you fill the tub with water and apples, drop in a few roses to remember the saint.
St. Honorius Cake Eating Contest: a great game for the teens! St. Honorius is the patron saint of cake bakers. Have a donut eating contest in his honor, where the contestants race to be the first one to eat an entire donut which is tied by a string from a doorway. If you use your hands, or drop your donut, you're out.
St. Apollonia's Teeth: St. Apollonia was to have all of her teeth extracted as part of her martyrdom. Fill a jar with candy corn...I mean teeth! But count them as you do. Write the number on a little slip of paper, fold it and tape it to the bottom of the jar. Have your guests guess how many of St. Apollonia's teeth are in the jar. The one who guesses closest to the correct number wins the jar!
St. Lazarus Mummy-Wrapping Contest: Lazarus was raised from the dead by Christ. After four days in the tomb, he came forth wearing his winding sheet...like a mummy! Have your group line up in pairs. Give each team a roll of bathroom tissue. When you say, "Go!", have one student completely wrap his team mate up in the paper, leaving nothing unwrapped! First team done wins a prize!
St. Helena's Finding of the True Cross Game: great game for little ones!
Fill a decorated box with packing peanuts. On several, draw symbols such as a circle, smile face, triangle, etc. But on ONE draw a cross. Whoever finds it gets a prize!
Spectacular Saint Costumes
I'm sure there were many, many saint costumes that I've neglected to mention in this list, but were just as spectacular. These are the ones that I found most memorable!
Many of these costumes are so very similar in that they require a plain robe. It's the props that make all the difference!
St. Veronika: a robe and veil, carrying a piece of cloth ( an old cloth diaper, if you must know) onto which I spray-glued a photo copy of the Holy Face from the shroud of Turin
St. Michael: archangel, with a sword
St. Gabriel: archangel with a trumpet
St. Raphael: archangel with a straw hat and walking stick
St. Kateri: a Native American Indian costume
St. John the Baptist: a robe and cape, dark sweatpants and socks with sandals. Fake beard. Staff and a banner which reads, "Repent! Prepare ye the way of the Lord!"
St. Mary of Egypt: one of my favorites! Sweat suit over which is worn a priests phelonion. A long white straggly wig and long fake fingernails.