Chris­tian­ity be­gins to re­claim spirit of Hal­lowe’en

The Sunday Telegraph - - News - By Olivia Rudgard Katie Mor­ley

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.

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