Reclaiming Symbols (and vegetables)…

After picking up a pumpkin from the shop, my middle son expressed surprise on the journey home. “But that’s a Halloween thing!” He said. “We don’t celebrate that.”

My response: “It’s a vegetable. It doesn’t have to belong to Halloween. We can scoop it out and put a candle in, just for fun. Or we could make pumpkin soup if you kids would eat soup. We’re celebrating autumn (Americans: that’s the British term for ‘fall’) and harvest time. Who says people who don’t celebrate Halloween can’t have a pumpkin in their home?!”

As I ended this minor rant to a perplexed car full of kids, I found myself pondering other things or symbols that have been hijacked by causes or organisations that I don’t hold in high esteem. How about the dove, used in Christianity to symbolise the Holy Spirit, frequently used by CND or other political organisations to denote peace?

Or what about the rainbow, which signifies a reminder of God’s faithfulness, being used by LGBT groups such as Gay Pride to symbolise acceptance of non conventional sexual relationships? Will I stop my children from drawing rainbows or wearing a rainbow sticker because of the alternative meanings it represents? Of course not!

In a democratic nation people are free to use non trademarked symbols or objects for any purpose they wish. I’ve decided, along with many other Christians, to stop demonising pumpkins and candles at this time of year. They’ll feature in my home because I like them during this season, nothing more, nothing less.

I may object to some of the monstrous commercialism and hints of darkness that have overtaken our supermarkets at Halloween, but I will not succumb to over-spiritualisation of everything.

Now –  whether we’ll carve a smile, a weird shape or a cross into the pumpkin… We’ve yet to agree on that.  Perhaps something a little arty or tasteful, as seen in the featured photo above, may be more appropriate now the children are a bit older.

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