A History of Halloween

A History of Halloween 2024

Halloween or Hallowe’en, also know as AllHalloween, All Hallows’ Eve or All Saint’s Eve is a celebration on the 31st October dedicated to remembering the dead, including saints (hallows), martyrs, and all the faithful departed. It is believed that many Halloween traditions originated from Celtic Harvest Festivals, particularly the Gaelic festival Samhain (pronounced sow-in).

Samhain marks the end of the harvest season and the beginning of winter or the ‘darker half’ of the year. The 31st is believed to be the day when the boundary between our world and another thins. Souls of the dead are said to revisit their homes seeking hospitality. Places were set at the dinner table and by the fireplace to welcome them. This is also seen in other traditional holidays such as the Mexican Day of The Dead (Día de Muertos) which is celebrated on November 2nd.

Halloween traditions and activities may include trick-or-treating, dressing up, carving pumpkins or visiting haunted attractions. Throughout Britain and Ireland, many of the past festivities included fortune telling, dream interpretation, apple bobbing and nut roasting.  Bonfires were lit in the belief that the smoke and ashes were deemed to have protective, cleansing powers.

day of the dead

From the 16th Century, the practice of dressing up, or impersonating souls of the dead were believed to have protected oneself from them. In costume, people would go from house-to-house reciting songs in exchange for money or food.

The carved pumpkin is historically known for protecting against evil spirits, and in Irish folklore are known to represent souls that have been denied entry from Heaven and Hell. In Ireland and Scotland, turnips were traditionally carved.

Many Western Christian denominations encourage the abstinence of meat during this day, given the rise of vegetarian food that is associated with this day. Before baking, a ring or coin is placed in the Irish barmback; a fruitcake made on Halloween and is considered fortunate to whomever finds the item inside. Other traditional foods include toffee apples, soul cakes, candy, caramel popcorn, pumpkin seeds and sweetcorn.

Pulbrook and Gould Halloween Decorations - South Audley Street
Pulbrook and Gould Halloween Decorations – South Audley Street

The City of London continuously spoils us with spooktacular events from haunting ghost walks, luxurious cocktails, and extravagant Day of The Dead parties:

The Savoy’s Beaufort Bar

Entitled Interpreted Magic, the Beaufort Bar in The Savoy takes guests through the history and performance of magic through the ages with their new menu.

Hampton Court Ghost Tour

A chilling walk-through tour of Hampton Court, fun for all the family, with tales of ghosts and paranormal activity.

Pumpkin Sculpting Masterclass at Lavender Green Florist, Chelsea

Watch emerging sculptor Benedict Romain carve delightfully spooky pumpkin designs, or create your own bespoke and intricate Halloween wreath, and table decorations.

Sexy Fish Scary Fish Day of The Dead

With live music, acrobats and specialist performers, Sexy Fish is presenting an alluring and extravagant celebration on the Day of The Dead.


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