Are you celebrating Hallowe’en tonight?

Illustration Andrew Joyner

I arrived back home in south London this evening to heaps and heaps of autumn leaves blanketing the pavements, and hoards of children, from babies upwards, with their parents, trudging through the piles of leaves and dressed up in exquisite costumes ready for trick-or-treating.

This is a source for some debate in our area. On the one hand, American-style celebration of Hallowe’en seems to have gripped our little corner of London: it’s like a Saturday morning on the Northcote Road – you can barely move for the number of children (only a very slight exaggeration). On the other hand, some parents are adamantly against it. I met recently for a drink with the yummy mummies who were received into the Church in our parish last Easter. We still meet up regularly (thankfully, they are not part of the 75% in London who are received into the Church and soon afterwards lapse). No, I found what they had to say really heartening: they will not take their children trick-or-treating – firstly, because it’s not Catholic (woah! My jaw dropped at that one! I don’t think we ever talked about trick-or-treating during RCIA) and secondly, because it’s too American (sorry to my American readers…) We’re just a bit stuffy.

I’m sitting on the fence. If it’s really just about dressing up as cartoon characters, having fun, getting sweets, I don’t see that it’s too bad. I think Catholic families should do what they can to ‘Christianise’ activities like this – not succumbing to the competitive approach with which pushy parents often come at them. But that goes for any other fun activity…

What are your thoughts? Are you out trick-or-treating tonight?!

5 Responses

  1. Lesley says:

    We are most against it!! I love Harry Potter to bits but really what is Halloween except for a crasy american import designed to make traders money?? We do not need this on British culture. It could be argued that it is anti catholic anyway as it dates back to jacobean switch hunt Times!! Luckily our primary school Does not endorse it but it is creeping in.

  2. KathyK says:

    Being American, I’m afraid I’m a bit indoctrinated to the custom – so we go every year. But I always ensure my kids know where the tradition originated – it’s the ‘eve’ before the big day – All Saints. We talk about where the customs regarding skeletons, etc. come. And how other cultures, in particular Mexico, celebrate their religious festivals in a big way. (And we’ll only ever knock on a door that is decorated and clearly participating in Halloween!)

  3. Tonia says:

    We go but its just pull on the same skeleton costume that’s lasted for 4 years, grab a pumpkin bucket and go up and down 2 streets. Last night it took an hour and we stopped at 40 house all decorated. There were hundreds of children and we saw lots of friends. That said, I made it clear that this would be the last year (I only took my younger son who is 10 and I think that’s about the age to stop).

    I don’t want being Catholic to mean being the only child in the class who didn’t go trick or treating and I always mention that Hallow ‘een is the eve of All Saints day. When I was in the UK we didn’t do Guy Fawkes. I’m not sure if anywhere still burns a effigy of the pope but I that would be way too much for me!

  4. If my children were of trick-or-treating age today I would have made a stand to encourage them to dress up as saints. I do think it’s a huge commercial endeavour, and being Catholic, I would want to stick to the truth of the Eve.

  5. Thanks for your comments! It is so interesting to hear the different things that families do… Thanks!

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