Debate: Can Catholics take the horror out of Halloween?

Halloween was once the vigil feast of All Saints' Day, celebrated on November 1 (Photo: PA)

The Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales has backed a campaign to reclaim Halloween as the Christian festival of All Hallows Eve.

The campaign suggests that children be dressed up as saints instead of witches, and that pumpkins have smiley rather than scary faces, with crosses cut into them.

Adults are encouraged to place lights in their windows “as a sign to passers-by that yours is a Christian household and Christ is your light”.

Bishop Kieran Conry of Arundel and Brighton says this could be “a powerful way to show people we have hope in someone other than ourselves”. “The light will provoke questions and is a way that people can be signposted to goodness,” he said.

But can smiley pumpkins and saints’ costumes really change Halloween? Or is it an embarrassing attempt to give a Christian veneer to a thoroughly pagan event?