The name Hallowe’en derives from ‘All Hallows Eve’, which is the day before All Saints’ Day, November 1, in the Christian calendar. As Christianity spread through Britain in the mid 800s the church chose to adopt for some of its festivals, some already in use by the pagan Druids of the time.
The date is almost upon us, and also (sadly!) November 1 marks the beginning of winter, which was known as the celebration of “Samhain”, lord of the dead. On the October 31 it was thought evil spirits roamed about and the separation between the living and the dead disappeared. To keep evil spirits away, bonfires were lit and singing and dancing took place.
For Christians, All Saints’ Day is a celebration of life, remembering ALL those who are past – whether known saints or not - and Jesus himself, who Christians believe brings light into the world by defeating evil and darkness. Hallowe’en has grown as a commercial festival over the last decade and some aspects of the celebration which have caught the imagination of children can be concerning – especially trick or treating.
Before you start shouting at the paper – ‘killjoy!’, it is not people having fun together that is concerning. Primarily it is the sentiment – trick or treat. Give me something nice – or I will play a trick on you!
Also, the encouragement to celebrate ghouls, ghosts and darkness, albeit in jokey fashion, doesn’t need to dominate our children’s thoughts when there is enough rubbish in the world. Churches across UK, often host alternative events that focus on light rather than darkness, keep the fun element with games and activities and give children and young people a place to go – rather than roaming the streets after dark.
Try something different for Hallowe’en Light Parties across the district:
Saturday October 27, 3-4pm: Praise in the Nave, Chichester Cathedral Free entry, but to book a place email Irene.firstname.lastname@example.org
Wednesday October 31:
Light Fantastic Party, 5.30-7pm, St Mark’s, Slaugham and St Mark’s, Staplefield at The Parish Hall, Handcross Aimed at primary school children with hot food, games and illusion! No entrance charge or tickets, just turn up. Contact church office for details 01444 400221.
Light n Bright, 5.30-7.30pm, St Mark’s, Horsham Aimed at primary schoolchildren. Come in bright clothes for crafts, games, activities and dancing with pizza tea. Entry is free but by ticket only. Contact Rachel Stoffell in the parish office, 01403 261380.
Light Party, 4.30-7pm The Barn, The Church Centre, Causeway For children aged five to nine. Make pizza, roast marshmallows, juggling glow balls, unicycling and lots of fun. Come dressed as your favourite sportsperson or other hero.
If your church is holding an event which isn’t listed here, then please give details in the comments below to publicise them.