Halloween in Shrewsbury
7th October 2015
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Are you having a Halloween party in Shrewsbury this year? 

Maybe you’re having friends over for frightening films or taking the little ones out trick-or-treating.

Lots of people are doing the Shrewsbury ghost tour of course – Shrewsbury is one of the most haunted towns in England after all (1). No matter what you are doing for the spooky season, here are a few facts you might not know about Halloween to get you in the mood for some fiendish fun…

  1. Halloween is a contraction of the words ‘All Hallows’ Evening’ (hallows is another word for saints). It marks the first of three religious days dedicated to remembering the dead, when people believed it was easier for departed spirits to return and walk the earth (2).

 

  1. Some believe that our modern Halloween originated from pagan festivals that were held around harvest time, particularly the Gaelic ‘Samhain’ (pronounced Sah-win or Sow-in) (2).

 

  1. Trick-or-treating seems a very American practice which we have taken on, but it actually began here in Britain! During the Middle Ages, children and the poor would go from door to door singing and saying prayers for the dead souls, thus were called ‘soulers’. They would be given small, round ‘soul cakes’ by the households they visited (3). Today, soul cakes have been replaced by chocolate bars and sweets!

 

  1. Why do we dress up for Halloween? Dressing up has always been a part of human nature – it’s a lot of fun to pretend to be someone or something you’re not, and behave differently to how you usually would. Influenced by notions of macabre spirits around this time of the year, it’s natural that people began to dress as frightening and creepy figures to celebrate the holiday (4).

 

  1. Carving pumpkins is another home-grown tradition, which is attributed to an Irish legend. Jack O’Lanterns are named after a drunkard named Jack, who was forbidden entrance to both heaven and hell. Condemned to wander the dark earth, he made a lantern from a turnip and a lump of burning coal to either guide a lost soul or lure unsuspecting souls to their doom! Every Halloween, Irish communities would carve and put candles in turnips to scare him and other evil spirits away. When the pumpkin was discovered by Irish settlers in America, the classic symbol of Halloween as we know it today was born (5) (6).

Fancy swapping your pumpkin carving for turnip carving? Dressing up as the undead or something a bit more lively? Let us know what you’re doing to celebrate All Hallows’ Evening this year in Shrewsbury, along with your own facts about the scariest time of the year!

 

(1)   Ghost tours in Shrewsbury (2015) Shropshire Council – Leisure and culture – Guided tours of Shrewsbury. Available from: http://www.shropshire.gov.uk/guided-tours-of-shrewsbury/ghost-tours-in-shrewsbury/ [Accessed 5th October 2015]

(2)   Halloween – Wikipedia. Available from: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Halloween [Accessed 5th October 2015]

(3)   Soul Cake – Wikipedia. Available from: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Soul_cake [Accessed 5th October 2015]

(4)   Rosenfeld, L. (2014) Why we dress up on Halloween: The evolution of the Halloween costume. Tech Times. Available from: http://www.techtimes.com/articles/18433/20141022/why-we-dress-up-on-halloween-the-evolution-of-the-halloween-costume.htm [Accessed 5th October 2015]

(5)   40 fun facts about… Halloween (2010) Random Facts. Available from: http://facts.randomhistory.com/halloween-facts.html [Accessed 5th October 2015]

(6)   Whipps, H. (2013) Why Do We Carve Pumpkins at Halloween? Livescience – Human Nature. Available from: http://www.livescience.com/32459-why-do-we-carve-pumpkins-at-halloween.html [Accessed 5th October 2015]

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