Hallowe’en has come and gone, although in many churches this weekend there will be celebrations of All Saints and the connected one of All Souls.
Hallowe’en itself is a variation on All Hallows Eve, or the Eve of All Hallows or Saints. Hallowe’en has grown and been strongly influenced by the United States with its emphasis on dressing up ghoulishly with horror make up and decorations that reflect a caricature of hell and all things macabre.
It is for most simply an excuse to dress up and have a party. Some churches hold their own versions which focus in upon the light rather than dark.
Even Strictly on the telly joins in the fun. There is the downside though, with the ‘Trick or Treat’ getting out of hand and some individuals taking the ‘Tricks’ too far and causing real distress to some victims.
Some wit on Facebook made a comment about it teaching children the skills of deceit and extortion!
Another downside is the way in which it can be a cover for genuine occult activity. There are those who love the occult and all that goes with it who can be drawn to dark practices for which the Hallowe’en set dressing can be a cover for. Genuine occult practices are dangerous and harmful. I have often heard stories, as I did only the other day, of people who have had a dabble and been scared out of their wits. People are incredibly naïve about spiritual matters and play with things that quite frankly they shouldn’t!
Dabbling in occult things is like trying to rewire a house with the power still switched on!
Many would scoff and debunk all talk of the reality of spiritual things, until that is they actually encounter something they can’t explain. And yet there is something about human nature which draws people to the extremes that Hallowe’en portrays; the macabre and the overtly wicked touches something in the human psyche.
On the flip side are the things of God and faith. Jesus as a figure of light surrounded by his angels and saints with the message of love and goodness simply don’t make a sufficient impact with people.
So for all the thousands across the country who celebrated the froth and bubble of Hallowe’en last weekend sadly there will not be as many in church this weekend to honour the great Saints of the Christian faith, or to call to mind their loved ones – the All Souls – who have passed that great divide of death and now are in that world of shades and light. It won’t have the ghoulish trappings of Hallowe’en but it will be the real thing!