All Saints’ Day is on 1 November
by Brian Radcliffe
Suitable for Whole School (Sec)
To explore our understanding of personal influence.
Preparation and materials
- None required.
- Point out that many people have heard of Halloween, but lots of us don’t know where the name comes from.
You may wish to ask the students whether any of them know where the name comes from.
- Explain that Halloween is the day or evening before All Hallows’ Day, just like Christmas Eve is the day before Christmas Day. ‘Even’ was a Scottish shortening of evening, so All Hallows’ Even became Halloween.
The original idea was that All Hallows’ Day was the more important of the two days, but this has been reversed in modern times. Halloween has a high profile, and many events take place to mark it. Yet we know very little about All Hallows’ Day, and most of us probably don’t celebrate it. However, it’s a day that contains an important message about a contemporary media phenomenon: influencers.
- All Hallows’ Day is also known as All Saints’ Day, and it is when Christian believers remember and give thanks for the lives of the saints, both famous and obscure, known and unknown.
For Christian believers, the most important moment in their lives is when they were introduced to Jesus and placed their faith in him. This might have happened through the teachings of one of the traditional saints of the Church, such as Saint Paul or Saint John, through their writings in the Bible. It might have happened through the life story of someone who has been famous more recently, such as Martin Luther King or Mother Teresa. Sometimes - in fact, most often - it will have been through the witness of a friend or family member.
These are the saints whose lives are remembered on All Hallows’ Day by Christian believers because they are people who have been a significant influence on them.
- Influencers - who are paid by brands to promote their products to their social media audience - are a feature of contemporary life.
They have turned a brand of energy drink into a multi-million pound industry. They have helped singers and bands rise to the top of the download charts. They have persuaded the public to buy make-up, clothes and a mass of other products. They have even had a significant effect on political elections and religious beliefs. Influencers wield enormous power over some people.
- Ask the students, ‘Who are the influencers in your life?’
Pause to allow time for thought.
Let’s not think about what we’ve been persuaded to buy online. Let’s think about who the role models are in our lives, who we look up to. Who inspires us? Who do we turn to when we need to offload or seek advice? Who are the influencers in our lives?
Time for reflection
It’s not wrong to allow other people to influence us. It is, however, important that we choose the right people. That’s why it’s a good idea to start with role models from the past, people who’ve proven through their life, their achievements and their integrity that they can be trusted as examples. The long-term evidence is there for all to see.
Nearer to home, it’s important to choose as influencers close friends who can be trusted, who will listen carefully before giving advice, who we know will be with us for the long haul. These are the kinds of people it’s worth treating as influencers, rather than those who are immediately persuasive, vocal and bring pressure to bear. We want our influencers to be with us for the long term.
This works both ways, for each of us is an influencer too. When we give advice or offer an opinion, we are playing the role of an influencer to anyone who listens to us. This may be particularly relevant for those of us who have younger siblings or who know younger students in the school. It’s also true for those who are captains or team leaders in groups within and outside school. We are all influencers in some way.
So, what is the job description for this kind of influencer in the here and now? Here are some suggestions.
- Our friends can trust that what we say to each other is in confidence.
- We learn to listen before giving advice too quickly.
- We are ready for friends to take or reject our advice without offence.
Maybe one day, someone can remember us on All Hallows’ Day, as someone who influenced them for good. That would make us a saint!
Here’s a song to influence you.
‘Beautiful day’ by U2, available at: https://youtu.be/S85ceVI4mfg (4.04 minutes long)
Ask the students to nominate two significant influences for them. One influencer should be a well-known person, and the other should be a member of their present lives, someone who is not necessarily significant to anyone else.
Ask the students to discuss the second person with a partner or in small groups, describing their reasons for thinking of them as an influencer.