Halloween can be a riotous party for adults. Or a sugar-infused power walk for
But typically at Calvary Cemetery, the spookiest holiday of the year is a pretty quiet night.
“Younger kids might like getting scared at a movie,” said Calvary Caretaker Terry Miller. “Or startled by their friends for fun. But a real cemetery on a cold, dark October night? Most of them want to be somewhere else. You know what I mean?”
Terry says young adults have sometimes braved the grounds on Halloween, but usually only briefly or to take pictures and leave.
Last year was an exception. Busloads of pre-teens and teenagers from the Mankato Catholic churches came for a special drama that educated the young people about the significance of All Hallow’s Eve and how our Halloween customs originated.
Because last year’s story never had a chance to appear on this blog, we will post the story here in time for Halloween 2014:
Calvary hosts ‘All Hallow’s Eve’ exposition
Drama, misty weather, a crypt tour and a tell-all history lesson were the highlights of an “All Hallow’s Eve” exposition that attracted 90-some pre-teens, teens and parents at Calvary Cemetery on Halloween night, 2013.
“We really had perfect weather,” said organizer Connie Wallin, Coordinator of Family Faith Formation at Joseph the Worker and Holy Family Catholic churches in Mankato and Lake Crystal. “It was an amazing night.”
Connie, Father Tim Biren and Calvary Caretaker Terry Miller were the presenters for an interesting evening laced with moonlit mist and laden with eye-opening information about one of our favorite holidays: Halloween. And what better place to do that than Calvary Cemetery where many of the attendees had loved ones buried?
But this was not a haunted house type of entertainment: The event was designed to be about eye-opening discovery, not eye-popping terror.
According to Connie, the whole idea behind the event was to enlighten area Catholic youth about the significance of All Hallow’s Eve, also known as The Eve of All Saints, and reveal how our Halloween customs originated.
“For instance, why do we dress up to scare each other on Halloween?” she asked.
The scary costumes and fright factor started when much of Europe was still
pagan. To dramatize the answer, the participants entered the cemetery to see Connie at one of the graves. She portrayed a Christian come to solemnly pay respects and decorate the graves of loved ones.
“That’s what Christians did because they had a tradition that the souls of the dearly departed would leave Purgatory and visit the living on that one night,” she explained.
Several other people, portraying pagans and dressed in scary costumes, then chased her to the chapel as the chapel bell tolled.
That’s really where the costume tradition began – pagans having fun scaring Christians at grave sites.
The crowd then moved to Calvary Chapel where the “pagans” came to the door. “Have you come a souling?” asked the woman who answered the door.
It was explained to the crowd that poor people and young children would go door to door on All Hallow’s Eve and offer to pray for the souls of the home’s departed – in return for food. The food was traditionally a “soul cake.”
Inside the chapel, Terry Miller talked to the crowd about the chapel and the history of the cemetery, including the origin of the chapel bell, the windows and other features. Although the cemetery had been visited many times by paranormal investigators, he assured those present that Calvary was “ghost free.”
In the chapel basement, the crowd was treated to talk about the “Day of the Dead” by a parishioner who still celebrated the holiday popular in Latin America.