Why it should be no surprise that Edinburgh school banned Halloween party – Helen Martin

Kids in Halloween costumes
Kids in Halloween costumes
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Row over whether an Edinburgh school was right to stop a Halloween dress-up party on the premises doesn’t impress Helen Martin.

MY son is now 30 years old, so how primary schools operate today is a mystery to me.

But when he was a pupil at St Peter’s RC Primary in Morningside, there certainly were not any Hallowe’en parties. November 1 is All Saints Day, a holy day of obligation known in the past as All Hallows Day.

It’s the day when Catholics celebrate and pray for all saints in heaven. It was started by Pope Gregory III in the 8th century and his successor Gregory IV started the vigil, All Hallows Eve, on 31 October.

Both became banned after the Reformation, then restored when the Catholic Church recovered. In modern times All Hallows Eve became Hallowe’en and, for some strange reason, that eventually was about dressing up as witches, ghouls, devils and ghosts.

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So, my boy had no school party but he still went guising with his pals that night. Today the Catholic Church broadly accepts it’s up to parents whether their kids guise or not though they should be going to church the next day.

It doesn’t surprise me that St David’s RC Primary, which shares a campus with Pirniehill, doesn’t approve of a Hallowe’en party which appears to be celebrating devils rather than saints. I wouldn’t expect Jewish pupils to have a bacon butty party or those Church of Scotland to have a casino night.

Maybe some Catholic schools now do have Hallowe’en nights, and some don’t. But if parents want their children to attend a Catholic school, they are not obliged to go to Mass, learn catechisms or make confessions.

However, some basic religious beliefs, rules and Christian décor, all happily accepted by Asian families, are part of the deal.