I’d rather my daughter could defeat Dracula than fear him

There's nothing to worry about, pumpkin...

There’s nothing to worry about, pumpkin…

I was somewhat disappointed but not all that surprised when I read that another representative of the Roman Catholic church had launched an attack on Halloween.
The Christian church regularly shows itself to be out of touch with modern society and this latest attempt to scaremonger is no different.
This time it is a UK bishop who has condemned the modern celebration of Halloween, arguing that parents should not allow children to dress up in ghoulish fancy dress costumes.
The Right Reverend Kieran Conry, the Bishop of Arundel and Brighton, said he wants October 31 to be reclaimed as a Christian celebration.
He advocates children dressing up as Saints and that we place candles in our windows to show that Jesus is the light of the world.
I just can’t see it proving that popular, myself.
Apart from the obvious danger of setting fire to your curtains, I know for a fact that my little ’uns wouldn’t want to queue up at Asda to buy the brown robes of Saint Francis of Assisi.
What the bishop’s earnest words fail to recognise is the fact that in just one generation, Halloween has become the third biggest event in the British retail calendar.
Tesco alone estimates that it will generate £55 million from the annual fright-fest this month.
Given the parlous state of our economy right now I, for one, am prepared to make a few pagan sacrifices on the altar of capitalism.
Bishop Conry goes on to say that he believes that parents are bullied into buying Halloween tat.
However, we could say the same for the great commercial monster that is December 25.
In my view as a lapsed Methodist, Christians make a big fuss at Christmas and Easter and anyone who wants to can have a party and get dressed up for Halloween. It should be as simple as that.
The Lord knows there are few enough reasons to be cheerful in the present financial climate.
When I hear people whingeing about having to answer the door to children playing trick or treat, I urge them to remember that they too were young once.
For some elderly people there is, of course, a genuine fear of answering the door to strangers at night time.
But the police and various Christian organisations give out posters to place in windows to show when people don’t want to be harrassed and, in truth, only a very small minority of idiots cause a nuisance on October 31.
To suggest that four- to 10-year-olds, chaperoned by their parents, dressed as zombies and hags and in search of Haribos, are truly frightening is stretching credulity somewhat.
When I read of the church warning that Halloween carries ‘dangerous messages’ I shudder.
Not because of the ‘dangerous messages’, you understand, but because the church is once again shooting itself in the foot by showing it has no sense of fun.
If the clergy want to be party-poopers, then fine – just don’t spoil things for the rest of us.
For the vast, vast majority of people whose lives are touched by Halloween, it is a once-yearly chance to get dressed up, meet with friends and family, and let their hair down.
For most of us, it never was and never will carry occult undertones and has absolutely nowt to do with Satan.
Most people don’t even know what the gaelic festival of Samhain is and care even less.
However, as a father of two small children, I can assure you there’s precious little that youngsters like more than a) dressing up and b) bucket loads of sweets and chocolate.
At the weekend I took my girls to see the delightful Room On The Broom at The Regent Theatre in Hanley.
For those who don’t know, it’s the stage adaptation of a spectacularly popular children’s book by Julia Donaldson involving an unnamed witch.

My two arrived in the Cultural Quarter resplendent in their pointy hats and black capes – and they weren’t alone.

A huge part of the fun for them was exercising their imagination, with flights of fantasy on their little broomsticks and by casting spells a la Meg and Mog.

Indeed, I actively encourage my girls to embrace ghosts, ghouls and vampires – whether it is via the Scooby Doo cartoons or children’s literature.

For one thing, it teaches them not to be scared of such things, and I’d much rather that than have them growing up afraid of the dark or things that go bump in the night.

In fact, at the age of four, my daughter Mina already knows exactly which weapons to employ if confronted by Dracula himself.

I wouldn’t have it any other way…


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