St Mary Magdalene † St Bartholomew † St Alban †
Sunday 30th October 2011
October 31st, All Hallows’ Eve - or Halloween, as it’s known!
Opinion seems divided about the practice of keeping Halloween; some people feel that it’s harmless fun while others feel that the idea of poking fun at evil and being frightened should not be encouraged, especially by Christians.
All Hallows’ Eve, that is, the night before All Saints’ (or Hallows’) day, as we see it these days, is no doubt a mixture which has evolved over the years; it may have its origins in an ancient celebration marking the end of summer and some of the features come from cultures which are rather less squeamish about death than the English!
The strange ghoulish faces that we carve in pumpkins and the contorted masks worn by pranksters are said to represent the tormented souls in Hell and the tradition of telling scary stories about witches a reminder of the evil that exists in our world. When children dress up and knock at neighbours homes, the ‘trick’ of their ‘trick or treat’ will be a song or a poem if they’re in Scotland but a mild threat of mischief in London.
Certainly, however it began, the idea has been enthusiastically embraced by party shops and many see it as an opportunity to get dressed up and have fun with no thought of its many layered meanings.
In the modern European experience, we have contrived to make death something that usually takes place in hospital and many would say that evil is what film makers depend on to get good box-office returns; however, Hallowe’en reminds us that, actually, death and evil are all around us and that all our modern gadgets and technologies don’t change that……….but do not be afraid!
Remember how we sang ‘The strife is o’er, the battle won!’ and rejoice and have fun, knowing that our beds are already made up in Heaven and no amount of apple-bobbing can change that!!