Christians have been urged to take part in a new campaign which aims to reclaim Halloween as a “joyful” Christian celebration.

The international “Night of Light” initiative suggests that parents dress their children up as saints instead of witches, and that pumpkins have smiley faces and crosses carved into them.

Adults are also encouraged to place lights in their windows on Halloween to show passers-by that their household is Christian and that Christ is their light, and attend a vigil Mass for the Feast of All Saints.

Damian Stayne, founder of the UK-based Christian community Cor et Lumen Christi (Heart and Light of Christ), said: “The evening of 31 October is called Halloween (‘All Hallows Eve’) and is the vigil (beginning) of the Feast of All Saints – the feast in which Catholics celebrate the glory of God in His saints, the victory of light over darkness in the lives of God’s holy ones in heaven.”

“Everyone is called by Jesus to live out this vocation – to be the ‘light of the world’ for others today.”

He added that children’s celebrations and prayer gatherings are being organised in many countries around the world as part of the “Night of Light” campaign.

Bishop Kieran Conry of Arundel and Brighton said Halloween is now the biggest commercial festival after Christmas and Easter and Christians need a reminder of its true nature.

He suggested that lighting a candle or publicly displaying another kind of light will “provoke questions and is a way that people can be signposted to goodness”.