Belief Beat

Halloween has my vote for most fun holiday, so this jumped out at me this week: Catholic News Agency reports that a British Catholic leader has launched a “window light campaign intended to ‘reclaim’ Halloween as Christian holiday.”

Damian Stayne, founder of the community Cor et Lumen Christi (Heart and Light of Christ), said the “Night of Light” initiative is the vigil of the Feast of All Saints, when Catholics celebrate “the glory of God in His saints, the victory of light over darkness in the lives of God’s holy ones in heaven.” Jesus is the “Light of the World” by whom the saints lived and became a beacon to their generation, he explained.

Sayne said that in many countries prayer gatherings and children’s celebrations are being organized and participants are encouraged to place a light in their window in order to “visibly witness to neighbors and friends.”

According to Catholic News Service parents in England and Wales are advised to dress their children up as popular saints (St. Francis of Assisi, St. Mary Magdalene, etc.) rather than witches and devils, and to carve pumpkins with smiling faces and/or crosses, rather than menacing jack-o’-lanterns.

I must admit, I don’t quite get it… Perhaps I’m culturally confused? Is Halloween less commercialized and more devious in Europe than in America? Is this campaign a reflection of the recent papal visit? Thoughts?

(For what it’s worth, I understand that traditional Christians may frown on Halloween: My own family’s Orthodox church used to hold a fun party with a costume contest and haunted house for the kids every year, until a new priest decided it wasn’t appropriate, along with the Mardi Gras dinner dance. Hmph. I just don’t understand this campaign. Also, my son is dressing up as a monkey this year, which — like many popular children’s costumes — is neither saintly nor satanic, unless I skipped a crucial Curious George story.)

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