31st October 2014
The Celts used to celebrate All Hallows Evening because it signified the ending of Harvest and the beginning of Winter, this change between the seasons was also meant to build a bridge between our world and the world of the dead. They celebrated their New Year on November 1st so the Halloween night was seen as the last night of the year before winter came, a time many died due to the long cold nights. Samhaim was the night of Halloween and superstition believed that on this night the ghosts of the dead came back to earth.
This is the reasoning for the ‘scary’ Halloween costumes we see today, from ghosts to witches, they stem from these Pagan superstitions.
The Jack O’Lantern was carried round the streets during Pagan times to ward off the evil spirits. The pumpkin wasn’t around in places such as Ireland and England, but it is believed Irish immigrants would have carved them out of turnips but when they emigrated to the USA they discovered the pumpkin that worked much better and tradition was born from then.
Since this Pagen festival, the day has developed from the ritual which was a serious event to a night of fun for all ages, with children participating in trick or treat around their neighbourhoods. In the 1950s the Trick or Treat tradition became what it is today, rather than being about tricking the neighbourhood with pranks, the holiday became more children orientated. It was this tradition, mainly in America which has gradually spread to the UK and mainland Europe to create the second commercially successful holiday, second only to Christmas. The American influence on Halloween is huge, with many traditions been slowly imported over to Europe.
We have celebrated the day by baking at home, we hope you like the result! (Note in the background our William Morris Compton Oven Glove!)
(Thank you to History online for much of our Halloween information: http://www.history.com/topics/halloween/history-of-halloween )