The annual Treat ’n’ Treat event at Cornerstone is, of course, our fun alternative to the traditional Hallowee’n actvities that possess the nation after dark on October 31st.
The evening is always a wonderful success, however, the custom of Halloween remains a huge nut to crack, and it is worth asking how this custom first started and why it is so eagerly celebrated with ghosts and ghouls and all manner of dark creatures?
Halloween originally was known as the festival of Samhein, an ancient Celtic festival, where people would light bonfires and dress in costumes to ward off ghosts and to mark the beginning of Winter. This event was later combined with All Saints Day, by order of the Catholic Church, in the ninth century, to make it a more ‘church sanctioned’ holiday and to honour martyrs. This celebration then became known as ‘All Hallows’ Eve’.
The practice of dressing up and going from house to house asking for food and money also started at this time, and has developed into the popular tradition, that we now know as ‘trick or treating’.
In the late nineteenth century, as new immigrants settled in America, there was a movement to make Halloween into a holiday, in order to make its emphasis more about the community and less about ghost stories. Trick or treating was also encouraged as an inexpensive way to celebrate.
However, the growing popularity of scary movies and the failure of community leaders to take action against the more satanic elements in Halloween, resulted in a greater emphasis on the darker side of this custom.
Now celebrated widely in this country, Halloween is undoubtedly an event which has very sinister connotations. You have only to walk around Kingston on October 31st to see children wearing some truly frightening costumes. This ‘celebration’ and trivialisation of evil serves to demonstrate just how dark and broken our world is.
But God calls us to be a light in this darkness; ‘For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light’ (Ephesians 5:8).
Therefore, at Cornerstone our Treat ‘n’ Treat party aims to do just that, and is itself becoming something of a tradition in the local area.
Every year on the night of Halloween, families troupe through the door of the Hub to enjoy an array of activities from carnival games to craft activities and a live-action drama. Freshly made hot dogs are on constant supply, together with steaming cups of hot chocolate.
The Hub is aglow with pumpkins, all manner of autumnal décor, and even an Autumn-themed photobooth. Children are given score cards to take around with them as they try out all the games; and they are rewarded at the end of the evening with a little gospel-centred booklet, and, of course, some sweets.
A high point of the proceedings is the interactive drama production of two ‘scary bible stories’, namely the calming of the storm and Jesus healing the demon- possessed man.
It is wonderful to witness the large numbers of people who come through the doors of the Hub for this special celebration. It has proved to be a great way to reach out to the local community, and numbers continue to increase. This year around three hundred people came through, including many familiar faces as well as first-time families.
Cornerstone Treat ‘n’ Treat is undoubtedly a significant event in the Cornerstone calendar and clearly shows our local neighbourhood the light and hope that is to be found in the gospel of Jesus Christ.
By Abigail Dryden
Abigail is training to be a Midwife and helps at our youth group called Soul.