Lighten up Halloween, urges bishop
Monday, 18th September 2006
THE Bishop of Bolton has called on Britain's biggest retailers to offer children a "positive" alternative to Halloween.
The Rt Rev David Gillett believes supermarkets are cashing in on the festival by packing shelves with scary masks, witches' hats and skeleton costumes. He has written to Britain's five biggest retail chains asking them to stock alternatives, such as bright balloons and hair braids, to give families a choice.
Mr Gillett set up a stall outside Asda in Hulme, offering the goods he would like to see available in stores.
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He insists he is no killjoy, but says parents should not be pressured into buying goods promoting the "dark, negative side of Halloween".
Mr Gillett claims businesses are creating a climate of fear for children at Halloween. US-style celebrations of Halloween - including "trick or treat" - have become increasingly popular in Britain over recent years.
Many supermarket chains have already set up Halloween displays, and the October 31 event has become an important part of their sales strategy.
The Church of England has encouraged Christians to hold "bright parties" at Halloween so children can have fun by celebrating All Saints Day - the day after Halloween.
In his letter, Mr Gillett wrote: "I am worried that Halloween has the potential to trivialise the realities of evil in the world and occult practices should not be condoned, even if they are only being presented in a caricatured, light-hearted form.
"We in the Church 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 neighbours.
"It is why we want supermarkets to take a responsible position over products they promote for celebrating the event. It's high time we reclaimed the Christian aspects of Halloween."
For 16 years, Christians in Rossendale have organised a Halloween event called Nite-Lite.
About 400 children attend St Mary's Church, Rawtenstall, for a party which features songs and games.
© Copyright 2006 Manchester Evening News.