The Halloween Thing

Halloween is fast approaching. It’s easy to tell as in between the shop’s Christmas displays are racks of ‘Freddy Kruger’ and ‘Scream’ outfits for 5 year olds, bleugh! I’m not a huge fan of Halloween and/or Trick or Treating (which is massive on our estate) and I’m still wrestling with what we as a family are going to do!
Adding to this pressure this year is that on Monday I am taking part in a Discussion Podcast on a Christian response to Halloween.
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I’ve been trawling around the web without much success (in terms of good content) but have picked up on the campaign to introduce some lighter and more diverse stuff into the shops. I’ve read up on light parties and re-claiming all hallows eve but quite a bit is too American, to work here, in it’s approach.
So, has anyone got any meaningful advice on how to do Halloween counter culturally without just coming across as sad and twee (and a complete kill joy)?

8 Replies to “The Halloween Thing”

  1. In Bicester we do joint churches Light Party for children and a Splat Party for young teens (11-14) – you know the type of thing – really really messy games.
    On a personal level I have in the past made, and made with children, some smallish coloured cardboard crosses and then stuck on Gold stickers which say “God Loves You” (you can the stickers from Christian Bookshops) and then given that out with the sweets and maybe a small note about Childrens Church groups locally. I’ve no idea whether it ever gets looked at but it makes me feel better about it.

  2. I have a good Idea be not conformed to this world but be ye transformed. If we don’t celebrate something we dont celebrate, we don’t have to come across negative to anything someone else believes. But we must believe what we believe.

  3. A slightly provocative question – is there any good reason why a Light Party(TM)* is always held on October 31st? Why not November 1st? All Saints’ Day seems to me a day when light should be celebrated. On that date your messy games (or whatever) party in church could be a post-Halloween draw for all the kids in the community. An October 31st party seems to say “down with this sort of thing”, and may well ghettoise those who attend. A November 1st party would be extra fun for everybody, not just churchy kids with jumpy parents (which is my perception, rightly or wrongly, of an Oct 31st event)
    *No really – see http://www.lightparty.org/

  4. Rhys, I entirely agree with your perceptions about the motivation behind the staging of Light parties. But there is actually a reasonably good theological perspective for the October 31st date. Which is that, contrary to popular belief, Halloween is not based on a pagan festival (the clue is in the name) – or rather it is, but via an early Christian re-interpretation:
    When the early Christians were reinventing the pagan celebration in December as “Christmas”, they did the same thing to the pagan festival(whose name I can’t bothered to google) taking place in October. In the pagan original people used to dress up as spirits & such. In the Christian version, they did the same, but then burnt the costumes at the end of the evening – symbolising Christ’s triumph over evil. All Hallows on November 1st was then invented out of nothing as a follow on from this overcoming of evil.
    Despite the ‘TM’ing of Light Party, the Light Festival was, I believe, a rediscovery of the Catholic church about ten years back. Did a bit of research into this a couple of years ago – but its all gone a bit hazy now.

  5. Unfortunately, the common misconception (of Hallowe’en being a pagan festival co-opted by Christians) seems to be just that – a common misconception. There is some (scant, but arguable) evidence for a pre-Christian festival being held around the start of May, to mark the beginning of summer. That festival’s normally called Beltane by modern-day pagans. But the historical evidence doesn’t seem to have been found for the Irish Samhain, or the Welsh Calan Gaeaf. Most of what constituted historical evidence for the pagan Hallowe’en was written in the late 19th century, by a few scholars who seem to have been discredited by now for making poor assumptions in their research. All Saints/All Souls has been celebrated from the 4th century onwards, though not always at the beginning of November. Hallowe’en was a popular/folk reaction to that. Or so the historian says.
    I could go on, but I’m just thinking – with £120 million being spent in the UK alone on Hallowe’en products in 2005, do any of the frayed threads of history matter any more? I could start a leafleting campaign outside Asda on Saturday to remind people that Hallowe’en has no historical basis, but I’d be on a hiding to very little.

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