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Halloween has been hijacked by Christianity

I fear Victor Veritas (Write Back, October 19) has got his facts back-to-front. What we now call All Hallow's Eve, or Halloween, was an ancient, pre-Christian festival before the Church hijacked it.

In the same way, Christianity cleverly sanitised the ancient fertility rites of the coming of spring, as Easter, and the pagan mid-winter festival, as Christmas.

Curiously, Halloween used never to have the same appeal in England as it did in Ireland, perhaps because it was so close to Guy Fawkes' Night on November 5, which, celebrating the foiling of the 'Popish Plot' as it does, understandably had less appeal in Catholic Ireland.

In recent years though, Halloween has become more popular in Britain, due, no doubt, to American influences and the eagerness of commercial interests. I think Victor Veritas need have no fear that Halloween, as we have come to know it, will have a corrupting influence on our youngsters.

This is especially true when one sets it alongside the far more potent horrors of television to which children may be exposed 365 days-a-year. Apart from the dangers of firebombs, Halloween is harmless.

Actually, the occult associations of Halloween yesterday properly belong to All Souls' Day, when the ghosts of the departed faithful who have been wronged were supposed to rise from their graves and haunt their tormentors.

And that, if you please, is a Christian superstition.

JOHN PHILIPS

Belfast

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