When I was a child, I always had an enormous pumpkin outside my bedroom window on my birthday. The reason? I was born on 31st of October, the Eve of All Saints, All Hallows Eve, better known these days as Halloween.
Yes, it’s a good day for a Rector’s birthday, isn’t it?
When I was a child, ‘though, in the 1960’s, Halloween wasn’t a big deal, really. Yes, I had my hollowed out pumpkin which was fun, but there was no real “trick or treat”-ing or dressing up or spooky stuff to speak of. It’s all something that grew up in the 1970’s and 80’s in England, largely an import from America. I was in New York once, about 12 years ago on Halloween and was staggered at the amount of decoration and seasonal involvement in shops, schools and houses not to mention the enormous parade through the streets.
What do I think of it all, now? Well, on one hand, I don’t want to be a miserable, grumpy old Vicar, pouring cold water on children’s fun & festivity: but I do feel real reservations about it all. On one level, yes it is all just harmless playing and a bit of spooky silliness: but on another level, it’s a domestication of the malevolent, a “softening up” of our perceptions of evil, and I feel uncomfortable with it all to say the least.
So I no longer have a pumpkin, I have a “No Trick or Treat, please” poster in the window (you can download them from the Police), and the front door remains closed (despite the occasional flour bombing!). I am so glad that Little Horsted imaginatively have reclaimed the season with the pumpkin Festival and we must support and encourage what is an amazingly creative event; should the rest of us do something positive too, maybe have an “All Saints” Party, or “Festival of Light”....... Any thoughts, anyone?
Anyway, watch this space!
Love Fr. John