31st October 2017
Happy Halloween everyone!
How great is our William Morris Compton pumpkin – you can make your own, find out how to in this blog from a few weeks ago. It’s a really easy craft to do and it’s great to make your carved pumpkin last for more than a few days! Every year, we love to celebrate with a warm hot chocolate in our cute themed mugs and some treats from Betty’s – then we eat the sweets leftover from Trick or Treaters – a pretty good night in our books.
Halloween or All Hallows Eve, celebrated every October 31st, dates back to age-old European traditions. It can be traced back to the ancient Celtic festival, Samhain – people celebrated by lighting bonfires and wearing costumes and masks in an effort to ward off ghosts. After Pope Gregory III deemed November 1st as ‘All Saints Day’ in the eight century, the night before became known as All Hallows Eve, later shortened to Halloween.
Samhain was the day that officially marked the ending of summer and the harvest and the beginning of winter – a hard time full of brutally cold nights and filled with death – remember they didn’t have the same luxuries we do to cope with the cold winters! The Celts believed that on this night, the lines between the living and the dead are blurred and for one night only, the spirits are able to return to walk amongst us on earth. We must admit – doesn’t Halloween just feel that little bit more eerie? Perhaps it’s because there’s people jumping out at us all day in masks, but there’s definitely something different about the air that day, it’s always a crisp night isn’t it.
All Souls Day was celebrated in a similar way to Samhain – including parades, bonfires and costumes as people dressed up as saints, angels and devils. This was was also referred to as All-Hallows or All-Hallowmas and so it was due to this that the day before it – the traditional Celtic night of Samhain, that it became known as All-Hallows Eve.
Today, many of our traditions come from an Americanised version of Celtric traditions as the immigrants from Europe took over traditions and they all came together with their various ideas until we have what we have today. At first, Halloween was extremely limited in colonial New England due to their rigid Protestant belief systems, so the holiday was much more celebrated in Maryland the southern colonies.
But how did we get from the superstition and religious festivities to the ghost stories, mischief making, costumes and trick or treating of today? In the late 1800s in America, there was a move towards making Halloween a community holiday where neighbourhoods got together and told ghost stories and witchcraft stories. At the turn of the century, parties for both adults and children were the most popular way to celebrate the day – these parties were filled with fun games, food and costumes.
Because of the new ‘family friendly’ nature of the holiday, parents were encouraged to take out the frightening and more grotesque aspect out of Halloween and therefore today, mainstream Halloween celebrations has lost much of it’s superstitious and religious overtones.
How do you like to celebrate All Hallows Eve?