Next week we’ll be celebrating Hallowe’en. Well, some of us will, others clearly can’t wait to get it started judging by the bangs going off each evening which send my dog into a frenzy.
Fireworks are expensive and the bill for those already being let off must be considerable. Where do the people get the money, given how many are complaining about the cost of living?
This week I treated myself to a packet of large sparklers for £1.49 which will go with me to the annual family party on the 31st. I always liked sparklers, you could hold them and watch all the sparkle at fairly close range, unlike squibs – as we called them when we were children – which you had to run away from once lit. All good harmless fun, but not, it seems to a Christian counselling group in Mid Ulster which according to this newspaper is displaying a poster denouncing Halloween as the most evil time of the year.
The poster went up at the Christian Drop-In Centre in Maghera and makes the claim that the devil uses Halloween for his own evil purposes, everything from Ouija boards, the dark web, drink, drugs, horror movies, even Harry Potter books, drawing millions of people into the depravity of the occult. We have to admit there are a lot of evil people in this world but how many of them were hooked on it through the seemingly harmless practice of the modern-day Hallowe’en?
Historians argue about the ancient practices of various pagan festivals but we do know that the early Celts of 2,000 years ago – the peoples of Ireland, UK and northern France – celebrated New Year on November 1, the time when days got shorter and nights longer. This descent into cold weather, the Celts believed, blurred b\oundaries between the worlds of the living and the dead the night before New Year and that ghosts of the dead returned to earth on that night October 31. To keep these evil spirits at bay they lit bonfires, wore scary costumes and sacrificed animals. The event evolved over centuries into the secular, community based event we now call Hallowe’en. Those ghosts, which were taken so seriously millennia ago, are just a bit of fun. No one takes them seriously. Except, of course, some people with deep Christian views. Naturally those who run the Mid Ulster Christian Helpline at the Drop-In Centre have a right to a different viewpoint to the rest of us but I would take issue with their belief that children should ``never ever’’ be allowed to dress up in anything which represents evil as in later years they develop an unhealthy interest in the occult. Tell that to the average Mum whose children are already demanding their costumes from Asda for Hallowe’en night so that they can go to the party. To them it’s just a bit of fun. Any attempts to tell the average, young Hallowe’en celebrant next Saturday night that they’re participating in evil will be met with blank stares.
Civilisation since its earliest days has had its good, bad and evil times. We can’t say today there isn’t evil still in the world – the terrorism of Isil (Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant) has left the world reeling. Many innocent people will die before the war to eliminate them is over. Their ideology is evil, as evil as anything practised in past civilisations. We’ve suffered evil acts here too. But is letting youngsters dress up for a night of Hallowe’en fun a sign the devil is at his work? I seriously doubt that.