A lesson!


Hallowe’en, or All Hallows, is one of the oldest celebrations in the world and was started 2000 years ago by the Celts who lived in Scotland, Ireland and Northern England. It was originally known by the name Samhain (pronounced ‘sow-in’) and took place on November 1st each year.

It marked the transition from the ‘Season of Sun’ – Summer, to that of ‘Darkness and Cold’ – Winter.

It was believed that evil spirits arrived with the long hours of darkness and that resistance to them was at its lowest on that night. Centuries later the last night of October was transformed by the church into the Eve of All Hallows. It believed that Jesus, the light of the world would conquer darkness and evil.

Bonfire-Download-Free-PNGFire was very important to the Celts. They believed that light had power over darkness. On Hallowe’en night Celts danced around bonfires in order to bring comfort for lost souls, and ward off the newly arrived evil spirits. One English custom was ‘Lating’ or Lighting the Witches. They made torches from straw and thought that if they burned from 11 pm until midnight they were safe for the season. If the witches blew them out it was a bad omen.

Nuts were also burned on the fires and the way in which they burned forecast faithfulness in sweethearts and marriage.

Jack-o-lanterns, hollowed-out pumpkins with faces carved from one side, were named after a man called Jack. He was a miserDaco_3373799 and was refused entry to heaven. The devil also turned him away because Jack had played jokes on him. He was forced to walk the earth for the rest of eternity carrying a lamp.

Halloween was also known as Snap Apple Night when apples were hung from strings, and contestants had to eat them without using their hands. Also, apple bobbing was popular and based on an activity played out in the Roman festival in which they remembered Pomana – the goddess of fruit and trees. When the Romans came to Britain they brought this tradition with them and played it out on the same date as Hallowe’en.

The modern tradition of Trick or Treat has its routes in Souling. People would move from house to house begging for Soul Cakes and in return would say prayers for the donors’ deceased relatives. Centuries later it became known as Mischief Night when young boys played jokes on their neighbours and demanded food from nervous householders.

clipart2018691The tradition of dressing up dates back to Celtic times when it was thought that doing so would prevent spirits from recognising you. You may even be mistaken for fellow spirits and left alone.

And girls, did you know that at Hallowe’en, if you place a candle beside a mirror then look into it as you comb your hair or eat an apple, you will see the image of your future husband looking over your shoulder! Also if you place an apple under your pillow when you go to bed you will dream of your future man. That’s not all! Peel and apple so that the peel comes off in one length, then throw it over your shoulder the shape it lands in will be the initial of your future lover!

Halloween was introduced to North America by Irish immigrants following the potato famine in 1845. Commercialisation began about 1905 with the introduction of postcards which were sent between friends to wish them safe. It wasn’t until 1930 that the traditions such as dressing up and Trick or Treat became commonplace.

If you are scared on Halloween night, ring a bell. Spirits don’t like it. If you meet a witch put your clothes on inside out and walk1179044 backwards. If you see a sider it will be the soul of a dead relative watching you.

As for me, the only tradition I follow is to drink a pint of Hobgoblin Ale! Cheers!



16 thoughts on “A lesson!

  1. Denise D Hammond Oct 30, 2021 / 14:13

    Fascinating. I learned a lot including that I will no longer say Sam-Hane instead of Sow-in. Who knew! I do find it interesting how the Catholic church co-opted all pagan traditions – like having All Souls Day follow Halloween and asking for money so the priest can say prayers for the dearly departed souls of your relatives.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Keith's Ramblings Oct 31, 2021 / 14:43

      Thank you, Denise. Until I got delving I had no idea its history was so far-reaching and its traditions as numerous.


  2. WildChild47 Oct 30, 2021 / 14:58

    Hobgoblin is delicious! It’s been ages since I’ve had some, but wow, what a wonderful reminder. Great history lesson – and cheers – drink a pint for me 😉

    Liked by 1 person

    • Keith's Ramblings Oct 31, 2021 / 14:47

      I got six bottles from the supermarket yesterday! When I ran my pub we got through loads of barrels during Halloween week. Cheers!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. hilarymb Oct 31, 2021 / 08:19

    There’s certainly a lot of history through the ages … you’ve given me some new ones … I might ‘steal’ your girl combing her hair, or eating an apple for the next WEP – might!! Cheers – gloomy day so far … Hilary

    Liked by 1 person

    • Keith's Ramblings Oct 31, 2021 / 14:52

      You’re more than welcome Hilary, after all, I stole her from someone else!

      I won’t tempt fate by saying the sun’s trying to peep through the clouds right now! Oh, I just did!

      Liked by 1 person

      • hilarymb Oct 31, 2021 / 15:01

        It’s there and was out quite a bit – but now the clouds are thudding past – let alone the wind blowing us all off the planet. Thanks for the steal possibility … !! Cheers Hilary

        Liked by 1 person

  4. ceayr Oct 31, 2021 / 09:41

    Cool piece, Keith.
    But we always used turnips, not pumpkins, because that’s what we grew, I guess!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Keith's Ramblings Oct 31, 2021 / 14:54

      That’s a fact that clearly passed me by! I’ve always wondered why what you call turnips we call swede. Woooo to you too mate!


  5. Sunra Rainz Oct 31, 2021 / 21:24

    Ha ha! What interesting factoids 🙂 They’ve certainly filled in a few gaps of knowledge for me. Though I wouldn’t like to see the face of some bloke staring back at me in the mirror, I’d have to pepper spray the blighter if that ever happened. Really enjoyed reading about all the little omens and rituals though, thanks 🙂


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s