At the end of this month an increasingly popular cultural event takes place. It gets families and their kids off their screens and on the streets laughing and interacting with neighbours and friends. It is marketed heavily in stores as “the thing to do”. It is of course Halloween.
The word is a contraction of an old word for a Christian who has passed away (hallow = saint) and “eve” which is short for evening/the-night-before. “All Hallows’ Eve” is the evening before All Saints’ Day. In protestant churches it was (and in many places still is) a sacred Christian festival where Christians remember loved ones and people of faith who have died. A time to give thanks for their lives, remember them and be grateful for the faith they passed onto us.
I first encountered it in my six years of training at Seminary to be a pastor where in a special worship service we celebrated our recently deceased loved ones by naming them and ringing a bell. It was deeply moving and psychologically cathartic, and as such it is something that we are doing at Mawson Lakes Community Church at our Saturday November 4th evening service.
This seems strangely disconnected from the pop culture practice of “dressing up in often dark imagery and trick-or-treating” – much like how traditions around Christmas can be more about presents and Santa than actually celebrating the birth of Jesus. Many Christians partake of both elements of Christmas. Maybe it’s time we brought back faith-full traditions at All Saints Eve/Day too.
Pastor Stephen Abraham