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Catholic World News News Feature

Catholic Call To Reclaim Halloween From Pagans October 27, 1999

LONDON ( - A British Catholic writer and family rights campaigner called on Christians this week to reclaim Halloween from modern-day pagans.

Joanna Bogle, a member of the Association of Catholic Women and a former parliamentary candidate, said the eve of All Saints Day has become an excuse for commercialism and is developing increasingly sexual overtones.

"In the last four or five years we've moved from a merry, if slightly commercialized, obsession with plastic pumpkins to a rather sinister thing where children are being encouraged to relish dark, sinister, black magic, occult symbols," Bogle said.

"The fancy dress used to be a jolly thing. Now it seems to have a slightly unpleasant sexual element. It's become a night to celebrate the nasties. I don't think we need this in modern Britain and, in particular, I don't think we should spend money on it," she said.

Bogle, whose book Feasts and Seasons, helps families celebrate the Church year at home, believes Halloween is an ideal time for getting children involved in the fun and learning about their faith at the same time. "It's not easy to get modern children's eyes to shine because they are a bit tele-puddled," she said, "but you can do it. And we are Catholics, we teach by having fun, by the things we do, make, and eat."

Sacred Heart Primary School, which lies in the shadow of Pendle Hill -- Britain's most notorious site of 16th century witchcraft -- has announced it will not be celebrating Halloween in school this year. "We will be having a fancy dress disco," said head teacher Peter Cunningham, "and it will be an All Saints party. The children can come dressed as anything they like. They can come dressed as a witch or a wizard but we make sure we are celebrating All Saints Day rather than Halloween. And we make sure the parents realize that."

"The children know the folklore about the Pendle Witches. And whatever they get up to during the holidays is up to the parents but we don't advocate they do anything except celebrate All Saints."