“I’m so glad I live in a world where there are Octobers.”

October colours

L.M MONTGOMERY – ANNE OF GREEN GABLES

I most certainly agree with Lucy Montgomery on this one. I LOVE October! The colours, the crisp, fresh morning sunrises, squelchy muddy walks in wellies, kicking through piles of leaves and cosy fireside evenings. October conjures all these lovely images. Nowadays it is impossible not to forget Halloween. 

I say nowadays – if, for those of you like me of a certain age, your childhood didn’t contain dressing up in a scary costume and knocking on doors to receive a ton of sweets from your neighbours. For us, the modern-day Halloween ‘tradition’ does feel very new. But the origins certainly aren’t. 

Samhain bonfire
Bonfires were lit on Samhain to scare away evil spirits

Here in the UK ‘All Hallows Eve’ (the day before All Hallows, or Saints Day) dates back to the early church – originally on the 13th May, it was moved to the 1 November in the 8th Century. Now you can take different views on the reason for this. Personally I think Pope Gregory was a master of PR. He effectively merged All Saints Day with the (some might say) similar, already long existing, Celtic festival of Samhain. This believed that on the 31 October (the end of the summer and harvest time and the start of the dark, cold winter) was the time when the boundary between the living and the dead was open so the dead could join with the living. They lit large bonfires to scare away the evil spirits and a flame from that fire would then be carried to each house to protect them through the winter months. Some say they left food out for their own ancestors too.

combining these two events certainly made life a lot simpler for those early Celtic Christians

So effectively, it was a time when the dead were remembered and light was celebrated to banish the darkness to come. Given the Christian belief of remembering those saints who gave their lives for their faith and Jesus often being referred to as the ‘light’ of the world; combining these two events certainly made life a lot simpler for those early Celtic Christians.

For hundreds of years this ‘tradition’ has remained and gathered up a few other elements on its journey through time. I’m still not sure where the dressing up and trick-or-treat comes in. I think we owe that one to our American cousins. But I think Halloween’s popularity has remained simply because at the heart of it lies a deep rooted, insatiable human desire to just scare ourselves silly.

Win tickets to scare yourself silly in a Halloween Maze
Win tickets to scare yourself silly in a Halloween Maze

Whether you hold to the ‘scare yourself silly’ side of things – or the celebration of light before the dark nights draw in, there are so many ways you can maintain the traditions these days. Whether its light parties, pumpkin making, or scaring yourself silly – see last week’s post and the chance to win tickets to Harry’s Diner Halloween Maze. Anything advertising the fact you should bring spare pants – certainly fits into that category!

Whatever your tradition I hope you wrap up warm, kick a few leaves, sit by a cosy fire – whether that’s to scare evil spirits or not – and generally enjoy your October.

By Emma - lover of history, art and adventure

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