As my kids get ready for guising tomorrow I've been asked how I can be a Christian and celebrate Hallowe'en. Well here goes;
Hallowe’en is a weaving together of tradition and history which is captured in the diverse mix of symbolism that epitomises Hallowe’en events. We have witches, warlocks and dark spirits on one hand and light and new life in apples, sweets and sharing good things on the other. Some things come from the Samhainn or Samhuin, end of summer, beginning of harvest traditions, others from the Christian “Hallowing” or cleansing of the day before All Saints days, yet more from the Gaelic culture of spirits and good and evil. No one group can “claim” Hallowe’en as their own nor reject it as “against” their beliefs. What matters is what we tell our children.
As a Christian I believe in the power of hope and forgiveness even when these thing seem impossible. Hallowe'en is for me the preparation of a time when we clear our minds of negative thinking to reflect on the lives of all who have gone before us, family, friend and stranger, waiting to celebrate the potential of saintliness in everyone, known and unknown. It shows that death need not be the end and that a willingness to love and be loved can mean the lives of others can be changed for the better even we are dead.
The spirits and ghouls represent the pressures and forces that lead to bad choices. The light and food and fun and sharing speak of new life, harvest and the power of positive relationships that give us the strength to make good choices and live positively for others and for ourselves.
Carefully explained to children, the hallowe’en fun and laughter of guising, tumshie lanterns, dooking for apples and sharing out sweets can also speak of hope and love even beyond death and so should be enjoyed for that alone.
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