The Parish Magazine October 2021


Serving Charvil, Sonning and Sonning Eye since 1869

feature — 1

all the saints — followers of Jesus — who have gone before us.

Like the important Christian festivals

of Christmas and Easter, Harvest and

All Hallows celebrations have their

roots in pre-Christian times.

On the last night of October,

the Celts celebrated the Festival

of Samhain, or ‘Summer’s End’.

The priests, or Druids, performed

ceremonies to thank and honour the

sun, but there was a very dark side to

all this: Samhain also signalled the

onset of winter, a time when it was

feared that unfriendly ghosts, naturespirits,

and witches roamed the earth,

creating mischief.

The Druid's answer to this was to

light great bonfires and perform magic

rites to ward off or appease these dark

supernatural powers.

Then the Romans arrived, bringing

with them their Harvest Festival

which honoured the Goddess Pomona

with gifts of apples and nuts. Slowly,

over time, the two festivals merged.

When Christianity arrived still

later, it began to replace the Roman

and Druid religions. The first day of

November, which today we call All

Saints Day, was originally called All

Hallows and was dedicated to all

Christian martyrs and saints who had

died. The second day of November is

All Souls when we remember all who

have died.

The evening before these two

festivals became one of prayer and

preparation called All Hallows’ Eve,

meaning the holy evening. Later it was

shortened to Halloween.

For centuries, however, fear of

the supernatural was strong and

superstitions were widely accepted.

During the Middle Ages, animal

costumes and frightening masks were

worn to ward off the evil spirits of

darkness on Halloween. Magic words

and charms were used to keep away

bad luck, and people believed that

witches rode about on broomsticks.

Fortune telling was popular, and

The Parish Magazine - October 2021 17

From Harvest to Halloween — how

Christianity replaced superstition

For Christians, October begins and ends with two great feast days; the first

Sunday of the month is marked by the Harvest Festival and the last day of

the month is All Hallow's Eve — more commonly known as Halloween —

which celebrates the start of two days of festivities in which we remember


predicting the future by the use of

nuts and apples was so popular that

Halloween is still sometimes known as

Nutcrack Night or Snap-Apple Night.

Today, Christians have learned to

turn to prayer instead of charms to

overcome the powers of darkness, but

the true meaning of All Hallows’ Eve,

should not be forgotten.

Christians draw closer to Christ

when we remember and give thanks

for our loved ones and for the lives of

others who have gone before us.


The great festival of Harvest held

on the first Sunday of October is a

much later, Victorian, innovation,

although it has its roots in the Biblical

days of Moses when the Israelites

journeyed through the desert to their

Promised Land.

This land that God gave them has

a climate that produces two main

harvests — in the spring and the


At both times, God decreed

that there should be festivals of

thanksgiving. The spring harvest

thanksgiving was for the first 'fruits'

of the land, while in the autumn it

was to mark the completion of the

gathering in of the crops that would

provide food for the winter months,

and to pray for next year's crops.

In Morwenstow, Cornwall in

1843, Rev Robert Hawker invited his

parishioners to a special service to

thank God for their local harvest. His

idea spread like wildfire throughout

the UK and beyond and developed into

a tradition of taking local produce to

church where it would be blessed and

shared among the poor.

Today the local produce is more

likely to be a collection of money

which is used to help those in need,

although at St Andrew's we auction the

produce that is brought to decorate the

church and add the money raised to a

cash collection for the Christian Aid

Harvest appeal (see page 15).

Wheat And Weeds

Woodley Poet, Steven Rolling wrote

this Harvest hymn-poem based on the

much loved hymn tune: 'Wir Pflugen:

We plough the fields and scatter'. The

words are inspired by the Biblical text

Matthew 13:24-30.

The kingdom of heaven be

Like to a man who, see

Sowed good seed in his field, then

While men did sleep, was when

Enemy came and sowed weeds

Among the wheat, the deeds

He did, then went on his way

Undiscovered that day


Wheat, weeds, together grown

‘Til harvest, this be known

Then weeds burnt up, wheat gathered in

All free from sin

But when the wheat’s blade did spring

Was revealed everything

Wheat brought forth its fruit, each ear

In fullness did appear

Then did appear weeds also

They with the wheat did grow

Servants said to the sower

How these grow? Do you know?

Sower said, An enemy

Has done this, so it be

Servants said, Shall we gather weeds?

They of no useful needs

Sower said, No, not yet, lest

While you gather, the best

The wheat, you may uproot too

And damage to crops do

Let both grow to the harvest

And then view good, the best

The reapers shall gather first

The weeds, the ad, the worst

Shall bind them in bundles to

Burn, this be their end true

But wheat gathered in barn, for

It safe for evermore

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