It is that time of the year in the United States when many children and adults dress up as someone else and go out. This year, if our children plan to dress up as someone else, let us encourage them to consider dressing in a way that reminds them (and others) of someone whose life was pleasing to God. They can dress up as a saint!
The first task to this end will be to help our children think of a saint whose life they admire; someone they want to emulate. Perhaps they would like to dress as their patron saint; a Bible saint; or another saint whose life somehow stands out to them. This may be a quick and easy process, or it may take some research, but it is important that each child selects a saint that is somehow significant to them.
Once they have selected a saint, it is our job to help our child learn about the saint they have selected. We can check websites such as http://www.abbamoses.com/, where there’s a daily listing of lives of the saints commemorated for that date. We could also listen to the lives of the saints together at http://www.ancientfaith.com/podcasts/saintoftheday. Or we can read from books such as A Child’s Paradise of Saints, by Nun Nectaria McLees. As we learn about the saint together, we need to think of ideas of how to help others know more about this saint.
The final challenge is to figure out a way to make a costume that makes our child look like the saint who they have chosen. Many times, a simple costume made with a sheet or bathrobe, towels, and belt(s) will do the trick. Finding a prop or two (a cross? a wheel? a platter?) for the child to carry will add to the final effect. (The icon of the saint can often offer ideas of something for them to hold. The story of the saint’s life can do the same.) The costume does not have to be elaborate to be effective.
In the end, this costuming option offers a win-win situation for us as parents. We spend quality time with our children, helping them learn about the faith, as we work together to learn about the different saints they are considering. We help our children to dress as someone wholesome; emulating someone that we indeed want them to grow up to be like. And, last, but not least, we help our children to have fun while helping their peers learn more about the saints, too! (And if our church should happen to have a Saints Festival, our children will already have their costume planned!)
Holy Saints, please intercede for us and for our children, that we will follow Christ faithfully as you did and that we will live all of our lives (even our costuming choices) in a way that is pleasing to Him. Please pray also for our salvation. Amen.
Note: These printable story/activity books about saints http://dce.oca.org/page/activity-books/ can be an excellent starting place in the process of finding a saint your child would like to dress as/pretend to be. There are 12 in each of the three activity books, and each saint’s story is told in an easy to read format. There are also activity pages included for each saint.
Following are a few sample suggestions of costuming ideas:
Saint costuming idea #1: Listen to a podcast (or read the transcript) about Sts. Justina and Cyprian. The story of these saints can inspire children who want to be brave in the midst of frightening surroundings. The podcast can be found at http://www.ancientfaith.com/podcasts/raisingsaints/halloween_and_st._cyprian. Either saint would be a good one for a child to study, dress as, and ask for their intercessions.
Saint costuming idea #2: St. Seraphim of Sarov was an ascetic who lived in the wilderness. Wild animals loved him and would come regularly to his hut to be with him. Read more at http://orthodoxwiki.org/Seraphim_of_Sarov. A child dressing as St. Seraphim would want to bring along many stuffed forest animals such as a bear, a rabbit, a wolf, a fox, etc.
Saint costuming idea #3: St. Catherine the Great Martyr was the daughter of a ruler in Alexandria. She was beautiful and wise, and wanted to marry someone at her level of beauty and wisdom. When she learned of Christ, she dedicated her life to loving and serving Him. She was martyred for her faith. Read more about her at http://orthodoxwiki.org/Catherine_of_Alexandria . A girl who wants to dress up as St. Catherine could wear a fancy dress and jewelry (especially a ring), and could carry a cross (for martyrdom) or a wheel (an instrument of torture used against St. Catherine).
Saint costuming idea #4: St. Andrei Rublev was an iconographer who wrote many beautiful icons. One of them that is very well remembered is the icon of the holy trinity. Read more at http://orthodoxwiki.org/Andrei_Rublev. A child dressing as St. Andrei Rublev could carry a paintbrush and paint, and perhaps the icon of the Holy Trinity, as well. (If you don’t have a copy of this icon, you can find a printable pdf of it on the first page of this bulletin: http://www.goodshepherdbh.org/bulletins/2010/100530_GsBulletin.pdf )
Saint costuming idea #5: St. Nina, Enlightener of Georgia, was a brave young lady who packed up a few belongings and traveled all the way to the country of Georgia to tell the people there about God. The Theotokos promised that God would go with her, and gave her a cross woven from grapevines to take along with her, on her journey. St. Nina converted many to the Faith, and is lovingly called the “Enlightener of Georgia” because of how the country became a Christian nation through her influence. Read more at http://orthodoxwiki.org/Nino_of_Cappadocia. A girl who would like to dress as St. Nina could dress simply, carry a small bag or backpack, and take along a cross made of grapevine.