Wednesday, 16 October 2013


I always loved autumn as it heralds two of my favourite festivals. The first is Hallowe'en and the second is Bonfire Night. This month I'll be looking at Hallowe'en and little bit of the history of the celebration and a little bit of the usual fun!


Name and  History

Many people worry as they think of Hallowe'en being a pagan festival but this is not (wholly) true. It is a Christian one although now it is mostly an excuse for commercial excess!

Hallow e'en is short for All Hallows even(ing) - hence the apostrophe in the spelling. It is the Eve of All Saint's, October 31st in most western countries. It is the beginning of Hallowmas in the church (liturgical) calendar, the time when saints, martyrs and faithful departed believers are remembered.

The festival used to be celebrated on May13th but was moved to October 31st at the request of Pope Gregory IV in 853AD, as this also happens to be the same day as an ancient pagan festival some of the traditions have gotten rather confused.

Costumes and Trick or Treating

Why do we dress up or Tick or Treat? When we remember a soul in the church we eat food to 'feed' their souls and pray that their sins are forgiven. In the past the poor would go from house to house on the eve of All Saint's to beg for 'soul cakes' and so the tradition arose. Masks (and of course now costumes) were worn for protection in the form of disguise against the embittered souls of the dead who wandered the earth until the night of All Saint's and so Hallowe'en was the last chance for them to get revenge!

Jack o' Lanterns

The spectacularly carved pumpkins are one of the most stunning symbols of Hallowe'en. There are several stories behind these but the two most logical are that in the past Christians had lighted candles in their houses on this night to guide the souls of their loved ones back to them before they rose to heaven.

The other is the Irish folk tale of Jack who likes to drink a little too much. One night on the way home he meets the Devil who tricks him into climbing a tree. Jack carves the cross onto the tree and so traps the Devil. Jack strikes a bargain that when he dies the Devil will not be able to take his soul to Hell. Jack lives a rather drunken and sinful life and finally dies. Of course because of his terrible life he cannot go to Heaven but at the sane time he has excluded himself from Hell. In fact the Devil throws one of Hell's coals at him. Jack keeps it as it is a cold night but to stop it going out he puts it into a hollowed out pumpkin and then wanders the earth for an eternity looking for a place to rest.

Fun and Games

Some of my favourite films are perfect for this night! In no particular order but with the following categories S=Scary, F=Funny, D=Drama.

Hocus Pocus(F)
Jeepers Creepers(S)
She's a Witch (out-take from Monty Python The Holy Grail) (F)
The Scarlet Letter (D)
Pink Panic(F)
The Shining 1980 not the remake!(S)
Bram Stoker's Dracula(S/D)
The Craft(S/D)
The Lost Boys(S/F)
Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban(F) (Just for the pumpkin Patch scene!)

There are 100s of real horror movies but they are not the sort of thing I can recommend here or I'll have your parents after me! There are also 100s more I'm sure you think are better. Add your own suggestions.

Here are some activities you can do on line. Hit the Halloween Activities bar and choose all kinds of things!

Stories and Poems

Christopher Walken reading The Raven a poem by Edgar Allan Poe
A Tell-Tale Heart - A short film of the Edgar Allan Poe Story by The Film and TV channel. Type short scary stories into the You Tube search bar and get a variety of weird and wonderful tales read to you! Creepypasta is also a fave site! You have to be 18+ to get to this site because it's so full of scary stuff!

Write a ghost story (in English) and get it published...
Check out the Halloween Ghost Story Competition at
There are categories for kids, teens and adults. Closing Date 22/10/13. (So you better hop to it!) The winners will be published throughout the night of October 31st, 2013 and you win a t-shirt.

Most of all have fun and enjoy yourselves!


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