Halloween - 31st October

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Jack-o-lanterns - Pumpkin Lanterns

These are hollowed out pumpkins with a face cut into one side. People once carved out beets, potatoes and turnips to use as lanterns on Halloween. Nowadays we carve out pumpkins. According to an Irish legend, jack-o-lanterns were named for a man named Jack, who could not enter heaven because he was a miser. He could not enter hell either, because he had played jokes on the devil. So instead, he had to walk the earth with his lantern until Judgment Day.

Trick or Treat

Halloween was a time for making mischief - many parts of England still recognise Halloween as Mischief Night - when children would knock on doors demanding a treat (Trick or Treat) and people would disguise themselves as witches, ghosts, kelpies and spunkies, in order to obtain food and money from nervous householders.

Fire

Fire was very important to the Celts as it was to all early people. In the old days people lit bonfires, to scare away evil spirits. They believed that light had power over darkness. In some places they used to jump over the fire to bring good luck. Today, we light candles in pumpkin lanterns and then put them outside our homes to frighten away witches and ghosts.

Journeys must be finished before sunset.

A piece of bread crossed with salt (holy bread with witch- repellent salt) was carried in the pockets of travellers to keep them safe. Apples, nuts and candles figured prominently in many of the superstitions practised at Hallowe'en

Hazel Nuts -

Girls placed hazel nuts along the front of the firegrate, each one to symbolize one of her suitors. She could then find out who her future husband would be by chanting, 'If you love me, pop and fly; if you hate me, burn and die.'People believed that the Devil was a nut-gatherer. At Halloween, nuts were used as magic charms.

Apples

1) If you slice an apple through the equator (to reveal the five-pointed star within) and then eat it by candlelight before a mirror, your future spouse will appear over your shoulder.

2) Peel an apple, making sure the peeling comes off in one long strand and then throw it over your shoulder. The shape it lands in will be the initial of your beloved.

3) If you place an apple under your pillow you will dream of your future husband.

Superstitions of Hallowe’en

Dressing up -

The tradition of dressing in costume for Halloween has both European and Celtic roots. On Haloween, when it was believed that ghosts came back to the earthly world, people thought that they would encounter ghosts if they left their homes. To avoid being recognized by these ghosts, people would wear masks when they left their homes after dark so that the ghosts would mistake them for fellow spirits. To keep ghosts away from their houses on Halloween, people would place bowls of food outside their homes to appease the ghosts & prevent them from attempting to enter.

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