“Mommy, I want to be Saint Catherine at All Saints’ Day. She has the same name as me!” Your little one sees All Saints’ Day at your Catholic church as a time for fun, candy and a Mass. Celebrating All Saints’ Day on November 1 might make up for not trick-or-treating the previous night, but you hope she learns about faith at the event. Now to decide what a Saint Catherine’s costume looks like!
What would a celebration be without food? Many Catholic churches pass out candy at All Saints’ Day, just as many families passed out candy to trick-or-treaters the night before. Use candies that you can tie to symbolism, such as Treasures which remind little ones to seek Jesus as a priceless treasure, Hugs and Kisses that remind tots to spread love, Swedish Fish that are shaped like the ancient Christian fish symbol, Life Savers representing salvation and candy coins that remind children of the value of giving alms. Kids might also enjoy eating soul cakes, otherwise known as donuts.
All Saints’ Day would not be the same without a Mass to celebrate the saints of the past. Priests can tailor a Mass for young children who don’t like to sit quietly or for long periods of time. The message could explain that Jesus wants children to be good and obey their parents. He might tell a few stories about familiar saints, such as Saint Patrick, Saint Francis or any of the 12 apostles. At the end of Mass, little ones can light an electric candle to remember their patron saints or family members who have died.
Education can be fun and help toddlers and preschoolers learn about saints. Teachers can read board or picture books about the saints, such as Wendy Beckett’s “Sister Wendy’s Book of Saints” or “Patrick: Patron Saint of Ireland” by Tomie dePaola. Young children can earn patron saint medallions by providing information about their patron saint. Kiddos might enjoy playing stump the teacher by calling out the name of a saint and requiring the teacher to provide information about the named saint. If the teacher doesn’t know about the saint, she passes out a prize to the child who called out the name.
Young children can create their own costumes out of supplied materials if they didn't arrive in costume. Teachers supply a cardboard tube little ones can transform into a saint using yarn, construction paper clothes and faces. Kids can make a cross and crown, traditionally an All Saints’ Day symbol, by gluing together two craft sticks or dowel rods and dropping a paper crown over the upright section. Teachers honor the tradition of giving alms at All Saints’ by supplying small cardboard boxes or empty juice cans little ones can transform into an alms bank.