November 11, 2012
. . .for the first time in 1962! The guests in Villa Maria Regina, all involved in the Second Vatican Council, introduced them to this tradition. The following account of the feast of Halloween was published in the ND Chimes of 1962:
“Our good bishops are a source of edification to us… Yet with all their holiness they are so natural and human…. Near the end of October Sister Maria Hiltgard saw herself surrounded one day by several American bishops, who asked her to help them with a Halloween Party. Because Sister did not know what this was, she said she would find out from some of the American Sisters in the Motherhouse. At this, one of the bishops remarked, “That is just like the Sisters of Notre Dame; they always help each other.” Then the sisters of Villa Maria Regina came over and asked, “What do you do in America on October 31?” The answer was not hard; everyone knew how to celebrate Halloween… Halloween is the Eve of All Saints, the eve when the evil spirits can have their last romp before the power of the good Saints takes over on All Saints Day…
Not so easy as giving the answer was taking care to get the necessary things ready for this celebration, but with a little effort the sisters were successful. On the evening of October 31 the dining room of Villa Maria Regina glowed with the candle-light of four jack-o-lanterns, hollowed out pumpkins with eyes, nose, and mouth carved in. On the walls were silhouettes of black cats and witches riding a broom, and the tables were decorated accordingly. To this feast of the American Bishops, the German bishops were invited, as were also other American bishops residing elsewhere. First the festive party assembled in the reception room for a cocktail. Then they all went to the semi-dark dining hall, lighted only with the ghastly light of the jack-o-lanterns. Table speeches were made, German and English song alternated; it was a great party and its best result was – as the bishops themselves said – that the two nations came so much closer together in a human sort of way. Until then they had met each other with esteem and friendliness, yet without learning to know each other familiarly.
It was on the occasion of this Halloween party that the German bishops initiated the plan to surprise their American Confratres on the feast of St. Martin…”