I was asked the very reasonable question earlier by the delightful Mrs Acular - as we are a clergy-family, is it appropriate that we 'do' Holloween?
My first instinct was to ask her to go back to sleep at three in the morning, but as I was only fantasising about having a few more hours in bed, it seemed right to grunt and ignore her anyway!
That is my way of saying, 'let me think about that, oh love of my life, and I will get back to you sometime soon'. She is a solicitor, so it always best not to commit until an answer is formed and robust, evidenced and with the support of witnesses!
My first instinct has always been to abhor Halloween, condemn it is a pagan death-fest. It has always had the feel of the anti-Christian to me, but I must confess here, that that view has always been un-informed. Even at theological college some well-meaning sort held a Not-Halloween Party for the kids, on Halloween night - and much as that is a clear misnomer, reinforced my instictive response about the wrong-ness of the whole shebang. So I have a read a little, so that tomorrow, I may furnish my queen with the appropriate Christian repsonsa.
Well, it seems at first glance like a mish-mash of many things - Samhain [Celtic], Pomona [Roman], a marking of "summer's end", All Hallow's Eve [Christian] and so on, and has become associated with purgatory [the basis for the pumpkin lanterns], souling and guising [partly the basis of trick or treating], and other spiritually based pursuits. For me at least, nothing onerous - even if I personally wouldn't much fancy it.
However, there is the darker side to which I do have to take exception. There is the clear association with death as a living state (if you know what I mean), the occult, the devil and yes, a little bit of a dance with forces more rightly described as evil.
In my mind, and speaking as a parent, I have to draw the balance between the seaonally-based spiritual components as compared to the dark and rather sinister connotations - and my reply to my wife will be formed along the following lines:
...for the kids I consider Halloween harmless fun, dressing up, a chance for a party perhaps. I would treat it as I would fireworks night, as something that happens from which I see no need to protect my children at the level that three-year olds recieve such things. In the wider sense, I cannot reconcile myself to its darker associations and regard what Halloween stands for to be imcompatible with what I believe about death and life, or the love of God for all people.
It does highlight the issue of how a Christian parent recieves the world for their young children. I am no exception though my public ministry does add a little pressure when making a choice for my kids - as what I do will never be just a matter for my family. Your comments would be welcomed as my answer still feels inadequate!