By Nick Squires in Rome
Published: 1:10PM GMT 30 Oct 2009
The Holy See has warned that parents should not allow their children to dress up as ghosts and ghouls on Saturday, calling Hallowe'en a pagan celebration of "terror, fear and death".
The Roman Catholic Church has become alarmed in recent years by the spread of Hallowe'en traditions from the US to other countries around the world.
As in Britain, it is only in recent years that Italian children have dressed up in costumes, played trick or treat on their neighbours and made lanterns out of hollowed out pumpkins.
The Vatican issued the warning through its official newspaper, L'Osservatore Romano, in an article headlined "Hallowe'en's Dangerous Messages".
The paper quoted a liturgical expert, Joan Maria Canals, who said: "Hallowe'en has an undercurrent of occultism and is absolutely anti-Christian."
Parents should "be aware of this and try to direct the meaning of the feast towards wholesomeness and beauty rather than terror, fear and death," said Father Canals, a member of a Spanish commission on church rites.
Last year a newspaper controlled by the Italian bishops, Avvenire, called for a boycott of Hallowe'en, calling it a "dangerous celebration of horror and the macabre" which could encourage "pitiless [Satanic] sects without scruples".
Earlier this week the Catholic Church in Spain also condemned the growing popularity of Halloween, saying it threatened to overshadow the Christian festival of All Saints' Day.
The Bishop of Siguenza-Guadalajara, Jose Sanchez, said there was a risk that Halloween could "replace Christian customs like devotion to saints and praying for the dead."