Bishop urges bigger and better celebration of Halloween

By staff writers
September 18, 2006

Bishop urges bigger and better celebration of Halloween

-18/09/06

The Bishop of Bolton, the Rt Revd David Gillett, has today published a letter sent to Britainís supermarket bosses urging them to broaden and improve the way that their stores promote Halloween.

The term Halloween, and its older spelling Hallowe'en, is shortened from All-hallow-even, as it is the evening before "All Hallows Day" - also known as "All Saints' Day". Halloween has also sometimes been called 'All Saints' Eve'. The holiday was a day of religious festivities in various northern European pagan traditions, until it was appropriated by Christian missionaries and given a Christian interpretation.

The bishop's letter, which arrived on the desks of the Chief Executives of the UKís five biggest supermarkets early last week, challenged retailers to cross-merchandise 'darker' Halloween toys and costumes with other more positive goods.

The bishop also commends a new book published by the Church of England written specifically to help churches and schools arrange events for children and young people that focus on the positive messages of All Saints Day.

ìThis year, I would like you to offer your customers a choice. Amongst your displays, I would like to see products that enable parents, teachers and children to choose a positive, alternative way to celebrate Halloween,î says the Bishop, suggesting that the supermarkets present a range of alternative products such as bright balloons, hair braids and colourful costumes.

The Bishop shares the view of many Christians that large retailers are increasingly keen to commercialise Halloween celebrations in a way that pressurises parents to purchase goods that promote the dark, negative side of Halloween and could encourage anti-social behaviour.

ìIf you meet this challenge you will be making an important statement about your companyís willingness to accept the responsibilities that come with being one of the biggest suppliers of Halloween merchandise in the UK,î adds the Bishop in his letter.

One way of marking the event within that more positive framework is set out in Better than Halloween, the book that the Bishop is recommending the supermarkets stock alongside their other Halloween products. Written by Nick Harding, Childrenís Officer for the Diocese of Southwell and Nottingham, the 52-page book entitled 'Better than Halloween' contains an overview of the traditions of Halloween.

Based on the idea of reclaiming 31 October as 'All Saints Eve' the colourful resource is packed with a wealth of ideas and inspiration for running parties for children aged 5-11.

In recent years many churches have begun to organise events for children on or around Halloween, but this is the first time that the Church has offered practical suggestions for parishes on the subject. Better than Halloween also provides essential information on child protection and the practicalities of organizing such events.

The Bishop insists that those in the Church supporting his move towards a more positive approach to the event are not being killjoys, but are simply reflecting the concerns of many parents and teachers across the land: ìWe want everyone to be able to have an enjoyable time at Halloween, which is why people need to consider the impact of their behaviour on their neighbours. It is why we want supermarkets to take a responsible position in relation to the products they promote for celebrating the event. Itís also why weíve worked on producing the guidance on creating lively, engaging events for children and young adults that will provide a real alternative to the recently imported ways of celebrating Halloween.î

Better than Halloween, priced £9.99, is available online from Ekklesia. Click here for more details

Bishop urges bigger and better celebration of Halloween

-18/09/06

The Bishop of Bolton, the Rt Revd David Gillett, has today published a letter sent to Britainís supermarket bosses urging them to broaden and improve the way that their stores promote Halloween.

The term Halloween, and its older spelling Hallowe'en, is shortened from All-hallow-even, as it is the evening before "All Hallows Day" - also known as "All Saints' Day". Halloween has also sometimes been called 'All Saints' Eve'. The holiday was a day of religious festivities in various northern European pagan traditions, until it was appropriated by Christian missionaries and given a Christian interpretation.

The bishop's letter, which arrived on the desks of the Chief Executives of the UKís five biggest supermarkets early last week, challenged retailers to cross-merchandise 'darker' Halloween toys and costumes with other more positive goods.

The bishop also commends a new book published by the Church of England written specifically to help churches and schools arrange events for children and young people that focus on the positive messages of All Saints Day.

ìThis year, I would like you to offer your customers a choice. Amongst your displays, I would like to see products that enable parents, teachers and children to choose a positive, alternative way to celebrate Halloween,î says the Bishop, suggesting that the supermarkets present a range of alternative products such as bright balloons, hair braids and colourful costumes.

The Bishop shares the view of many Christians that large retailers are increasingly keen to commercialise Halloween celebrations in a way that pressurises parents to purchase goods that promote the dark, negative side of Halloween and could encourage anti-social behaviour.

ìIf you meet this challenge you will be making an important statement about your companyís willingness to accept the responsibilities that come with being one of the biggest suppliers of Halloween merchandise in the UK,î adds the Bishop in his letter.

One way of marking the event within that more positive framework is set out in Better than Halloween, the book that the Bishop is recommending the supermarkets stock alongside their other Halloween products. Written by Nick Harding, Childrenís Officer for the Diocese of Southwell and Nottingham, the 52-page book entitled 'Better than Halloween' contains an overview of the traditions of Halloween.

Based on the idea of reclaiming 31 October as 'All Saints Eve' the colourful resource is packed with a wealth of ideas and inspiration for running parties for children aged 5-11.

In recent years many churches have begun to organise events for children on or around Halloween, but this is the first time that the Church has offered practical suggestions for parishes on the subject. Better than Halloween also provides essential information on child protection and the practicalities of organizing such events.

The Bishop insists that those in the Church supporting his move towards a more positive approach to the event are not being killjoys, but are simply reflecting the concerns of many parents and teachers across the land: ìWe want everyone to be able to have an enjoyable time at Halloween, which is why people need to consider the impact of their behaviour on their neighbours. It is why we want supermarkets to take a responsible position in relation to the products they promote for celebrating the event. Itís also why weíve worked on producing the guidance on creating lively, engaging events for children and young adults that will provide a real alternative to the recently imported ways of celebrating Halloween.î

Better than Halloween, priced £9.99, is available online from Ekklesia. Click here for more details

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