Sunday, 3 November 2013

A Night for Services of Light and Ghost walks

Well, we have survived our first season of Halloween in the village. As far as we are aware, no eggs were thrown and no flour pelted at unwary villagers or our door.  But then, it would take a brave soul to venture up the rectory path, which is some distance from the road. If they made it through the darkness (we have no street lights in our village), our security light would have blinded them as they reached the front door, thus setting off the rectory dogs in a frenzy of barking and clawing at the door! We are a friendly rectory!

Halloween and its increasing commercialism is worrying. The growth of this as a 'festival' is often blamed on America with 'trick or treating' being adopted as one of our 'traditions', but as John MacArthur says in 'Grace to you':-
"The name "Halloween" comes from the All Saints Day celebration of the early Christian church, a day set aside for the solemn remembrance of the martyrs. All Hallows Eve, the evening before All Saints Day, began the time of remembrance. "All Hallows Eve" was eventually contracted to "Hallow-e'en," which became "Halloween.""
I have always believed that we should have an enlightened approach to Halloween. Leaflets written by J. John, have been placed in our churches that set out six reasons why Halloween is not harmless.
(An outline of this is linked here.) No one handed them out or engaged us in discussion to make us think about them. It is important that we think about how we respond to this. As a teacher, I saw the build up to fireworks night (Nov 5th) celebrated in school through art and drama - remembering Guido Fawkes attempt to blow up the Houses of Parliament in 1605, - how unsavoury is that celebration? Now, with all the health and safety regulations, the family bonfire night is declining. It is as if, with our clocks going back here in the UK, the darker evenings encourage the need to party, to celebrate, to get together and have fun. Halloween is the next date on the calandar - the evening before All Saints Day. For Christians to be superstitious about the evening, makes it too important, Light will overcome Darkness. This excellent clip sums it all up.

 So, in our village on All Hallows Eve (not Halloween), the drama group laid on a ghost walk which involved people being taken around the village and stories being told..and then 'things' happened. There was no attempt to say these were true stories and The Rector@6 accompanied the walk in his yellow jacket. It was drama and ended with a bowl of soup in the pub and a music band and a lot of laughter. The Church remained lit up as a place of light in the darkness. It was fortunate that the Service of Light had taken place an hour earlier in the church. It was a case of the two groups in the village not being aware that they were running two events on the same night. It had been a well attended service and gave people a chance to light a candle and remember loved ones who had died. The Rector @ 6 was at both events. The real problem of Halloween is the thuggish behaviour that results from unattended young people roaming the streets. If more emphasis can be placed on the value of Light in the world, if we could celebrate this with fun and laughter as well as respect, I think the world would be a better place.


  1. You might find this blog post useful ...

  2. I'm not religious, Harriet, but agree with much of what you say here. Spain has always traditionally celebrated All Hallows - and the day of the dead (Todos Muertos) by taking flowers to the graves of loved ones. The commercialism exists only as the busiest day for florists. And although the people are deeply religious, to observe it at first-hand, a lot of the 'religious' activity seems to be based more on superstition than on my own understanding of Christianity...
    Hallowe'en is a booming business though, with the shops full of ridiculous costumes and plastic things made in China and many children dress up or paint their faces with absolutely no idea what it is or once was. Fortunately, the culture is still such in and around our lovely town, that there is never any threat in what people do - either in groups or alone - fun is always the intention and always seems to be the outcome. It's one of the things I love most about being here - my son often goes out with his friends at the weekends - a group of 15/16 year olds roaming the streets along with other similar groups - and there is no hint of thuggery...ever! I wonder what it is about the Anglo-Saxon culture that leads to this type of behaviour...? I have no idea. Excellent, thought-provoking post. Axxx

  3. Hallowe'en still bears much of its pre-Christian heritage, and that is what some people seem to focus upon. Candles for the departed is a wonderful idea!

    Blessings and Bear hugs!