Would you stick your hand in a bowl full of worms? Would you eat an ant?

That’s just one of the Halloween challenges you could have completed at a church in Sydney’s east, at a Halloween festival held this weekend.

For the last few years, St George’s Anglican Church in Paddington has invited local families on to the church grounds to participate in some Halloween challenges.

“We noticed when wefirst came here that Paddington is particularly enthusiastic in their celebration of Halloween.

Write your own tombstone

Write your own tombstone Tess Holgate

“It is the day of the year when there are more people out on the streets, interacting with neighbours and engaging with the local community, than any other,” says Byron Smith, one of the staff of the church.

So while some Christians shy away from Halloween because of concerns that it is a celebration of darkness, the team at St George’s saw an opportunity to join in the community celebration and gently discuss some of the history and deeper meaning of the origins of Halloween.

Halloween is a much-commercialised celebration of the ancient Christian feast of All Hallows’ Day, where Christians remember the dead.

A zombie gets open heart surgery

A zombie gets open heart surgery Tess Holgate

“There is something good in that,” says Smith. “It’s good to not forget the past but seek to redeemer the lives of those who’ve gone before. We shouldn’t lose sight of the fact that we are all mortal.”

And Halloween is also a day where it is appropriate for people to explore their fears and anxieties in different ways. Smith believes that bringing our fears and anxieties out into the open can be a good thing.

Monster biscuit making

Monster biscuit making Peter Penn

“So [Halloween] is something we want to engage in, to explore, and we want to try and build relationships with local families, and start conversations about fears and mortality,” says Smith.

“We hope that kids have fun, but [we also want] to gently raise some of the questions around fear and mortality.”

Slime fishing

Slime fishing Tess Holgate

A church volunteer helps children go slime fishing

A church volunteer helps children go slime fishing Peter Penn

Zombie surgery

Zombie surgery Tess Holgate

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