From Rev Helen Lynch October 2019
as published in Great Yarmouth Parish Life
Rev Helen Lynch
October is a month when Christians often get a little bit nervous about how to engage with secular culture. I’m talking of course of Halloween, which has grown massively as people enjoy a chance to dress up, have some fun with family and friends, and of course eat too many sweets!
I have fond memories of Halloween fun as a child, we used to dress up and paint our faces, bob for apples and have a lovely evening. All in a solidly Christian household. Of course, new traditions have come along, and trick or treating has taken off in a big way since then - but that’s all come over from America
Or has it?
The English tradition of ‘Souling’ goes back hundreds of years, and bears more than a passing resemblance to trick or treating. Children and those who were going hungry, would knock on doors and offer to pray for the souls of the family’s dear departed ones, and in return were given a delicious cake to eat.
There is even a legend that doughnuts were invented when a zealous cook vowed she would invent soul cakes to remind them of eternity at every bite. So she cut a hole in the middle and dropped it in hot fat, and lo — a doughnut: the circle suggesting the never-ending of eternity. As this goes back to the time when the threat of purgatory still held much sway, people carried turnip lanterns representing those souls stuck in purgatory, and dressed in disguise. The prayers they offered gave comfort that those who had died would be helped on their way to a better place
Some of the Halloween ‘traditions’ which have sprung up aren’t really to my taste, but I don’t think we have to be scared of it all. You may not believe in purgatory, but wouldn’t it be great to take some time this Halloween, as we look towards the Feast of All Saints, to join our prayers with those who’ve ‘gone before us marked with the sign of faith’, and to spend some time with our memories of them
The views carried here are those of the author, not of Network Yarmouth, and are intended to stimulate constructive and good-natured debate between website users
Click here to read our forum and comment posting guidelines