Christianity begins to reclaim spirit of Hallowe’en
and CHRISTIANS have traditionally had an uneasy relationship with Hallowe’en. But many are beginning to embrace the event, staging parties designed to add religious significance.
Organisers say there are signs this is starting to appeal to parents from other faiths who do not like their children to go trick-or-treating for various reasons.
Paul Stockwell, of the Scripture Union, which has been sending out “Light Party Packs” for four years, said: “They like the fact that it’s in a safe environment instead of their children wandering the streets,” he said.
When the packs were first launched four years ago the charity sent out around 4,000. This has since doubled.
The packs include ideas for light experiments, games, a service plan and Bible-based activities. Many Christians had ignored Hallowe’en altogether, dismissing it as an anti-faith celebration.
Some churches are now endorsing anything that adds a religious element to the festival. Followers are encour- aged to carve pumpkins with “positive” symbols, like crosses and hearts, instead of scary faces. World Vision, a Christian children’s charity, has even created a God-friendly Hallowe’en character, Patch the Pumpkin, a pumpkin with an illuminated heart.
The origins of Hallowe’en are religious, many Christians believe, as All Hallows Eve, the day before All Hallows Day, also known as All Saints’ Day, was the day when the entire Church was celebrated.
Lucy Davis, vicar of Flitwick, Bed- Hallowe’en as a name has been in use since 1745, with its origins arguably in the pagan Celtic festival of Samhain, old Irish for “summer’s end”, celebrated 2,000 years ago. It has also been linked to the Roman feast of Pomona, goddess of fruit and seed, and Parentalia, the festival of the dead. fordshire, is running her church’s first Hallowe’en this year. She expects some regulars may not come along as they may still have “mixed feelings”.
“As a society we’re quite fearful for our children,” she said. “It sends mixed messages for our kids – you’re saying normally it’s not OK to knock on strangers’ doors, except for one night. Parents do feel a little bit conflicted.”
Senior church figures backed the change in focus to embrace the festival. The Rt Rev Julian Henderson, Bishop of Blackburn, endorsed a Christian Hallowe’en chocolate pack. He said it offered “an alternative to the increasingly common Hallowe’en attempts to scare and frighten”.
Martyn Saunders, the vicar of St Philip & St James Church, Chatham, Kent, where demand for their alternative party has grown for the past three years, said churches wanted to offer “a positive alternative to Hallowe’en”.
“People who are passing by come as long as they want to; play games, drink hot chocolate, and have fun, as opposed to being out on the streets,” he said.