Pagans say Hallowe'en is too commercial

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The Independent Online
Hallowe'en is becoming too commercialised, say British pagans who are concerned that this week's revellers are out of touch with the real meaning of the 31 October festival.

Oversized pumpkins and luminous skeletons are not what it is about, they say. "Most of us don't mind ghosts and ghouls and things in the shops, if only people knew the origins of it," said Pete Jennings of the British Pagan Federation. "There is nothing wrong with shops selling things for Hallowe'en but it is done in a way that people don't know what the meaning of it is."

With shops full of scary items, Hallowe'en is more a festival of commercialism than anything to do with death or the occult, British pagans feel. For pagans, Hallowe'en, or Samhain, is the Celtic equivalent of New Year's Eve and the most important of the eight annual festivals: a time when death is recognised as part of the cycle of seasons.

There is no set ritual to Samhain celebrations as paganism is a collection of religions. Most ceremonies this week will take place outdoors where pagans will form a sacred space and chant and meditate. Fancy dress is definitely not a feature of pagan Hallowe'en. Witches or wiccans are unlikely to be wearing pointy hats; in fact, they will not be wearing anything at all.