My local supermarket advertises itself as “Adelaide’s finest supermarket”, and in many ways it is a deserved appellation. It certainly has a great range of meats, continental foods, fresh vegetables, an excellent bakery and all the regular requirements of a supermarket, with the added advantage that it is less than 100 metres from my front door. But in the past week the checkouts have been festooned with witches hats, skull masks and glow-in-the-dark gadgets, all in anticipation of the 31st of October which some people celebrate as Halloween.
I have three objections to this. Firstly, Halloween is an American custom. It has no basis in Australian culture or history, and is only known by Australian children who watch too much American television or who are exposed to it by misguided parents and teachers. Secondly, as a Christian I find the overt emphasis on the dark side of spirituality and the symbols of evil disturbing and inappropriate. Halloween, which has it’s origins in the eve of All Saints Day, once upon a time had a link with the Christian hope of life after death, but nowadays it is an entirely secular festival dressed up in the trappings of withcraft and satanism. It is not ‘evil’ as such, but it is a long way from any resemblance to anything which chould be described as ‘good. Finally, and perhaps most importantly, the American custom of Halloween incorporates the custom of encouraging children to dress up in costumes which mask their identity and to go door to door asking for ‘trick or treat’. The dangers of children being placed in a situation where they may be vulnerable to people who may groom them for abuse in such a scenario are, in my opinion, not worth the risk.For all of these reasons, I will not be answering the door to any strangely dressed children this coming weekend. Andf I regret that “Adelaide’s finest supermarket” has made the judgement that the risks of promoting this un-Australian custom are worthwhile in the name of increasing turnover and, to use another American expression, making a buck.