I love the tradition of Catholic schools and homeschool groups doing All Saints dress up days in lieu of Halloween costumes. (When my son was enrolled in Kindergarten at our parish school, the Halloween costume parade was the straw that broke the camel’s back for us. One adult-type Dorothy costume and TWO pimps later . . . we were homeschoolers by Thanksgiving.) 

It’s a great way for kids to learn about and connect with the saints. Our homeschool group has an All Saints pageant every year, and it’s probably my kids’ favorite event.

But All Hallows’ Eve is just as much a Catholic holiday as All Saints Day and <stamping foot> darned if I’ll let a bunch of poorly catechized college girls wearing tube dresses and carrying a prop steal it from us. 

So WE will do both thank you very much.

But that doesn’t mean I have the time or resources or inclination to sew/craft/create/buy two separate costumes for each of my children. 

My deal is, I (with a LOT of help from Nana and Grandad) will provide them with an All Saints costume, and they’re on their own to create their Halloween costume of choice from our dress up clothes and/or recycle bin. But in recent years, we’ve been coming up with twofer costumes that will work for BOTH days. 

Oh, and I should warn you that I think some scariness is good for my kids, I have a great devotion to the martyrs, and I am just contrary enough that I have no problem showing up at a gathering full of children dressed as priests and princesses with MY child sporting a severed neck that’s squirting blood. Which brings me to costume number one . . .

St. Denis / Guy Carrying His Own Head

Cephalophore. Repeat after me children: suh-PHEL-uh-fore. Still can’t pronounce it? They Might Be Giants can help:


Cephalophores (Greek for “head-carrier”) are a classification of martyrs, noteworthy for having had their heads cut off, but that not really being a problem for them. St. Denis, for instance, picked up his head and walked six miles back to his church, preaching a sermon the whole way. Awesome sauce.

He’s in good company too, there are nearly thirty cephalophore saints to choose from.

We made ours from scratch, based on this tutorial. We used a backpack as the base, and made shoulders and a neck stump of paper mâché. We cut a slit in the bishop robes for Jack’s actual head to stick out of, and stuffed the sleeves of the robes and some long gloves to look like his arms. For trick or treating, he dressed in a big trench coat instead.

I never got used to seeing him in this costume. It is VERY disconcerting.

For this year, Jack is working on a St. John the Baptist / Head on a Platter costume. It should really be something.

Cowboys and Indians

We started with a flesh colored shirt that we drew abs on, because St. Sebastian is holy, but dude is also totally ripped. My dad took straight sticks from the yard to make the arrows. They were attached, half on each side, to a piece of coat hanger bent into a horseshoe shape. One bent coat hanger went over each shoulder, under his shirt. We cut little holes in the shirt so the arrows could poke through both in the front and the back.

If you don’t want to try to make the arrows yourself, a few joke-shop Arrow Thru the Heads
would probably work over the shoulders.

For All Saints Day, he wore a loin cloth. For Halloween, he put on some jeans and boots and a cowboy hat.

Betty does not want a gruesome costume. She wants a pretty costume. But those can be fun too. Last year I sewed her a St. Kateri costume. I could have saved time and money just buying her this Indian Princess costume, but hers turned out really cute and she was very happy with it. It also worked quite nicely as the Indian to go with Gus’ cowboy for Halloween. She was, however, utterly scandalized at my suggestion that she carry a bow in order to be the Indian who shot Cowboy Gus. The very idea! She sees herself as more of the Pocahontas / Sacajawea assisting helpless white folks-type Indian maiden.

St. Longinus / Roman Centurion

We actually bought the plastic parts of this costume at the Coliseum on our first trip to Rome, which makes it VERY authentic, right? Nana sewed him the red tunic underneath and the red cape, but complete Roman Warrior Costumes
are widely available.
St. Philomena / Drowned Maiden

2018 UPDATE: Since writing this post, it has come to my attention that Philomena is not, and actually never officially has been, considered a saint by the Catholic Church. You can read a complete explanation here. Had I known, we wouldn’t have chosen her as an All Saints’ Day saint. And if you’re costume hunting, I’d recommend choosing one of the ten thousand saints that ARE approved by the magisterium. 

Okay, so maybe Ophelia from Hamlet is nearly as obscure as St. Philomena, but I still think it would be cool to do a very disheveled post-drowning St. Philomena, who could double as Ophelia.

Anita, however, did not think that would be cool. So, we went with a tidier approach to the costume. 

But she didn’t seem to have any problem bringing the gruesome in her pageant clues:

Nana sewed her the tunic with St. Philomena’s traditional symbols on it. But she was Greek, so a Greek Goddess Costume
would work just fine for a Greek saint.

Knights and Ladies

Knights have a lot going for them in the way of costumes. Little boys think they’re awesome (and they’re right, of course), there are plenty to choose from: St. Nuno, St. George, St. Michael, St. Francis etc., AND store bought knight costumes
are very easy to come by.

We bought the St. George costume on Bobby on the right nearly five years ago at Costco for around ten bucks and it’s still going strong.

But anything worth doing is worth over-doing, so the next year Jack and Grandad fashioned a full suit of armour out of aluminum flashing for Jack’s St. Nuno costume.

And this year, Betty is going to wear it to be St. Joan of Arc!

But, usually, she wants to be a princess. Fortunately there are also plenty of princess saints. Nana sewed these dresses for her, but any store bought old-fashioned princess costume
would do just fine.

St. Olaf of Norway / Viking
icon written by Cody Chasen Burkett

You could use a whole store-bought Viking Costume. We bought the axe and helmet at a costume shop, and two yards of fake fur at the fabric store and cut a hole for Jack’s head. No sewing required! We found the rope in the garage. But by far the coolest part of this costume is that those are my mom’s actual snow boots from the seventies. That she actually wore. Ya know, just around. Take THAT Ugg boots.

Girls could be St. Sunnivia, with their own Viking Costume.

No photos of these yet, because they are what we’re working on for for this year. 
St. Lazarus / Old-School Zombie

For Gus . . . I ordered some zombie wound tatoos and we’re going to get some pale make-up and shred some clothes. Maybe for the saints pageant we’ll bring a stuffed dog. Eeew.

St. Maximilian Kolbe / Old-School Escaped Convict
For Bobby . . . I ordered some blue striped pajamas and some Harry Potter glasses. For the saint’s pageant we’ll add St. Maximilian Kolbe’s prisoner number and the red triangle. For Halloween, we’ll add some handcuffs and a plastic ball and chain. I wanted them to have a collar, so I went with Pajamas
(that I’ll have to take up, since they’re not a child’s size), but there are also Convict Costumes
that would work.
Junior Businessman / Blessed Miguel Pro

Just for the record, that’s not one of my kids. He looks quite dapper though. I think we’re going to dress Frankie in a suit and sweater vest, and he can be Blessed Miguel Pro. Bullet holes are optional.

So THAT is how we roll for the All Saints Day and Halloween. How about you?

If you’d like to keep track of ALL the feasts of the Catholic liturgical year, I’ve created a wall calendar to help you do it!

It features the all the feasts and fasts of the Universal Calendar and then some, illustrated with images featuring the traditional Catholic monthly devotions. It’s an easy visual way to bring liturgical living into your home. You can keep track of the feasts and fasts and seasons of the Catholic year, and be reminded to focus your prayer on a different aspect of our faith each month.

January:The Holy Name of Jesus 
February: The Holy Family 
March: St. Joseph 
April: The Blessed Sacrament 
May: Mary 
June: The Sacred Heart of Jesus 
July: The Precious Blood 
August Immaculate Heart of Mary 
September: The Seven Sorrows of Mary 
October: The Holy Rosary 
November: The Poor Souls in Purgatory 
December: The Immaculate Conception 

As the Church year begins with December, so does this calendar. You get December 2018 through December 2019, thirteen months. Available for purchase here. Thanks!

For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!