Started by young French Catholics, Holy Wins focuses on the feast's deepest meaning.
Catholics often question Halloween and its place in their faith, especially in light of its commercialization over the last few decades and its association with horror movies and gory decorations. However, Halloween has some Christian roots we can lean on and celebrate.
Meaning “All Hallows Eve,” Halloween marked the vigil on the night before All Hallows Day — All Saints Day as it’s more commonly known, a feast day implemented by Pope Gregory III in the 8th century.
Now, many centuries later, many people aren’t aware of Halloween’s connection to the saints. However, in France, where All Saints Day — or Toussaint — is of greater importance and is actually a public holiday, Halloween is gaining in popularity with the focus shifting from the saints to the more gory side of the celebrations we see in other places today.
Thankfully, a group of young French Catholics has decided to reclaim the feast and celebrate it in a way that honors the Church’s holy men and women with the campaign slogan of “Holy Wins” — meaning “sanctity wins.”
The campaign started in 2002 when youngsters printed their own newspaperand handed it out to Parisians to spread the message of Christian hope in our lives; inviting people to actually contemplate their death on this holiday.
On the evening of October 31, 10,000 people gathered in the square in front of one of the capital’s larger churches, the beautiful St. Sulpice, for a concert, activities, art exhibitions, and an opportunity to visit the church itself.
From there, Holy Wins picked up in popularity and has spread to other parishes in France and in other European countries, with activities for kids to learn more about the saints, and with special Masses. It offers the chance for Catholics to really focus on the original meaning of Halloween, to honor the saints, and look to the joy of eternal life.
If you click on the video below you can see how Holy Wins is celebrated by a couple of parishes in France:
There are easy ways you could celebrate your own Holy Wins at home, or in your parish. You could encourage your kids to dress as their favorite saints, and do some saint-related activities, such as quizzes. You can also pop on some music and have a dance to celebrate life, a life made sweeter by the example and sacrifices of the many saints we honor at this time of year, and the eternal life that is to come.