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It’s that time of year again when we imagine things that go bump in the night. Costumes and treats hit the shops, pumpkins are carved and we hit the dark cold streets with our miniature witches, wizards and zombies all hoping for a basket full of treats by the end of the night.

The celebration of Halloween has increased a lot over the years, certainly since I was a child when all you could buy was a plastic face mask with two eye holes and one for your mouth that cut your tongue when you couldn’t resist poking it through. Pumpkins were not readily available then either – I remember my mum carving a swede instead, how she managed I will never know as I find them hard enough to simply dice up for a stew! But where does this strange tradition come from? Who decided it would be a good idea to dress up as the most hideous creature you can think of and wander the streets in search of goodies?

Well, I discovered that Halloween has not always been about pumpkins and trick or treating. In this month’s feature, find out all about how this autumnal festival came about and the traditions over the years.

The origin of Halloween

We can trace Halloween back to the time of the Celts in Britain. Celtic Britain was pre-Christian, and the year was organised by the growing seasons. As the summer ended and the harvest began before the dark and cold winter months set in, the people in these farming communities saw it as a change from the abundant time of growth into a time of dormancy. As they saw this transition between ‘life’ and ‘death’ they celebrated the festival of Samhain which symbolised the boundary between the worlds of the living and the dead. The Druids – the Celtic priests, would lead the celebrations and a major part of this was to light a large bonfire in each village. The Celts believed that the ghosts of the dead were able to revisit the mortal world for one night and the bonfire was lit to ward off any evil spirits that might also try to sneak through. The hearth fire of each house was re-lit from the embers of the bonfire to protect the inhabitants throughout the coming winter months. Another ‘protection’ method the Celts used was to dress up as evil spirits. This way, if they came across any they would think that they were one of them!

When the Romans invaded Britain in 43AD they assimilated their own celebrations into the existing Celtic festivals. The Roman goddess of fruit and trees was known as Pomona and her symbol was the apple. As her festival was celebrated at harvest time, when the Romans would have consumed apples, nuts and grapes, it is suggested that this may be where the tradition of ‘bobbing’ for apples came from which many people still enjoy playing today at Halloween.

A move into Christianity

In the early 5th century as Romans began moving out of Britain, it was invaded by a new set of conquerors – the Saxons, Jutes and Angles. This pushed the Celtic tribes to the north and west of the country. Christianity began arriving over the next few decades from both the early Celtic Church, and the arrival of Saint Augustine in 597AD. Among the Christian festivals to arrive on our shores was All Hallows’ Day – or All Saints Day. This was traditionally celebrated on the 13th May each year to commemorate all those who had died for their beliefs, but in the 8th century Pope Gregory moved the feast to the 1st November, attempting to replace Samhain with a celebration more in keeping with the Christian faith. This is where we get the name Halloween from as the night of Samhain became known as All-hallows-even, then Hallow Eve. It later was adapted into Hallowe’en before finally becoming Halloween.

Despite the changing faiths of Britain over the centuries, many people still believe Halloween to be a special time of year when the spirit world can make contact with the physical, and a time when magic is at its strongest. This is where hollowed out swedes and turnips come into play, only recently replaced by pumpkins. The faces carved into the vegetables would be lit from within by a candle and placed in the window to ward off evil spirits – the same thing the Celts were doing 2000 years ago with their bonfires!

Trick or Treating

As well as the Celts dressing up as evil spirits all those years ago, the Christians would dress up as saints and angels as part of their All Saints Day celebrations. This means that there is a tradition of dressing up around Halloween for thousands of years.

The first form of trick or treating began in the Middle Ages. Children and sometimes adults from poor families would dress up and go door to door begging for food or money in exchange for songs and prayers on behalf of the dead. This was called ‘souling’ as they would often be begging for soul cakes. These sweet spiced currant cakes were baked as an offering to the dead, and were then given to the children as alms. One such rhyme used by the children went like this “Soul, souls, for a soul cake; Pray you good mistress, a soul cake!” The practice was also mentioned by Shakespeare in his comedy ‘The Two Gentlemen of Verona’ when the character Speed accuses his master of “puling (whining) like a beggar at Hallowmas.”

The first recorded use of the words ‘trick or treat’ comes from Alberta Canada in 1927. It says “Hallowe’en provided an opportunity for real strenuous fun……The youthful tormentors were at back door and front demanding edible plunder by the word “trick or treat” to which the inmates gladly responded and sent the robbers away rejoicing.” It did not become widespread though until the 1930’s in America, and this was halted during WW2 due to sugar rationing. The term ‘trick or treating’ did not become popular in Britain until the 1970’s-80’s.

Today, the custom is still a matter of much debate. While many households see it as harmless fun for children, providing them with an opportunity to dress up and eat large amounts of sweets, some hate it. They see it as begging, bad manners and a huge inconvenience to have constant knocking at their door.

Whatever your personal views are on Halloween, children invariably love it and even though it has changed a lot over the years, it is one of our longest running traditions!


Shrunken Head Apple and Raspberry Punch

– courtesy of Sainsbury’s


● 6 eating apples

● Juice of 3 lemons

● 2 litres apple and raspberry juice drink

● 1 litre raspberry and apple tea, made with two bags

● 2 cinnamon sticks

● 1 orange, zested


Preheat the oven to 120°C/½ gas mark. Peel the apples, then cut in half right through the stem and remove the core. Using a sharp knife, carve a face on the rounded side of the apple and use a melon baller for carving out the eyes. Put the lemon juice in a bowl with the apples, then top up with water to cover. Set aside for 10 minutes to prevent the apple from browning too much in the oven.

Put the apples on a lined baking tray, face side up, and bake in the oven for 1½ hours. They should begin to dry around the edges. Remove from the oven and set aside.

Meanwhile, put the remaining ingredients into a large saucepan. Bring to the boil then heat gently for 15 minutes, until the flavour infuses. Remove the cinnamon sticks, then serve in a punch bowl or cauldron with the apples floating on top.

For more Halloween recipes from Sainsbury’s visit;


Severed Finger Sausage Rolls

– courtesy of Morrisons


● 375g puff pastry

● 350g frankfurters

● 1 egg, beaten

● 1 tbsp milk

● 10 black pitted olives

● 1 squeeze tomato ketchup

Makes 20 sausage rolls


1 –
Preheat the oven to 190°C/170°C fan/Gas 5 and line an oven tray with baking parchment.

2 –
Cut all the frankfurters in half; the curved end will be the tip of each ‘finger’.

3 –
Cut a 375g sheet of puff pastry into three lengthways, then cut each length into 7 even strips. Roll a piece of pastry around each frankfurter half, pinching it at the ‘fingertip’ end, then, using a sharp knife, make small incisions in the pastry for ‘knuckles’.

4 –
Mix the egg with the milk and use to brush each finger well. Halve the black pitted olives, cut into fingernail shapes and press well onto each finger so they stick during cooking.

5 –
Bake for 15-20 mins or until golden. To serve, dip the base of each finger into tomato ketchup.

For more Halloween recipes from Morrisons visit

Toothy Green Monster Cupcakes

– courtesy of Tesco



150g (5oz) caster sugar

150g (5oz) lightly salted butter, very soft

3 eggs

150g (5oz) self-raising flour, sifted

2 tbsp milk, at room temperature

1 tsp vanilla extract

12 small tsp strawberry jam


120g (4oz) slightly salted butter, very soft

240g (8oz) icing sugar

1 tsp vanilla bean paste

few drops green food-colouring gel

1 tbsp milk, at room temperature

6 soft liquorice sticks

30g (1 1/4oz) white ready-to-roll fondant icing


Preheat the oven to gas 3, 170°C, fan 150°C. Line a cupcake tin with 12 large, paper cupcake cases. Using a hand-held electric beater, beat the caster sugar and butter together in a mixing bowl for several minutes, until really light and fluffy. Whisk in the eggs, one at a time. Fold in the flour, milk and vanilla and divide the mixture between the paper cases. Bake for 13-14 minutes, until pale golden and slightly bouncy when pressed. Transfer to a wire rack and allow to cool.

To make the frosting, slowly beat the butter and icing sugar together in a mixing bowl, then beat with a hand-held electric beater at high speed for 3-4 minutes, until very light and fluffy. Beat in the vanilla, food-colouring gel and milk to form a thick, airy icing, adding extra food colouring as needed to create a shade of garish green. Transfer to a piping bag fitted with a small, star nozzle.

Using a small knife, cut a plug out of the top of each cupcake, removing half a teaspoon of the cake from the top. Drop in a small teaspoon of strawberry jam and replace the cake ‘lid’ on top. Repeat for each of the 12 cupcakes.

Working slowly in circles, starting from the outside, carefully pipe tiny peaks of icing all over the surface of each cupcake. Repeat until each cake has a ‘hairy monster’ covering.

Slice 3 of the liquorice sticks across into discs (8 per stick, making 24 discs in all). Now divide 25g (1oz) of the white icing into 24 small marble-sized balls, rolling them to shape. Sit a liquorice disc on each icing round and press down, bringing the white icing up at the edges to create a monster eye. Sit two on each cupcake.

Slice the remaining liquorice sticks into fine lengths and use as angry eyebrows and mouths. Shape the remaining 5g (1/4oz) white icing into little triangular ‘fangs’ and sit these on the mouths to make scary faces.

For more Halloween recipes from Tesco  visit



Fright Night at
Stockeld Park

Stockeld Park in Wetherby is a popular visitor attraction for families all year round with plenty to see and do as the seasons dictate. To go along with their Halloween adventure at this time of year with pumpkins and witches (opening from the 20th) which is suitable for all ages, they have again included the scary Fright Nights aimed at older children, teens and adults.

This year, the Fright Nights promise to be more terrifying than ever with three new attractions rated at 12A! This is bound to be great Halloween fun for teens and adults – unless of course you are too scared!

The first new attraction is called The Farm House which is a derelict farm house that has stood empty for at least six decades as nobody dare live in it. It has a more than creepy past dating back to the Victorian era with screaming and shouting coming from the house in the dead of night but seemingly unoccupied by the family who rented it at the time. The doors are being opened again this Halloween for the first time in years.

The second attraction is The Cabin. Set in the dark woods of Stockeld Park, the Cabin is said to contain a crazed maniac who lured a group of youngsters inside with the promise of a good night’s sleep…. if you get dragged inside, what fate will await you?

If you are lucky enough to survive The Farm House and The Cabin, you can recover your wits in the famous maze at Stockeld. The only problem is, sadistic killers who managed to escape on their journey to death row are hiding out in the maze just waiting for more victims whilst evading the police!

I can’t wait to go along with my friends to see who is the bravest! The Fright Nights run from Friday 27th – 31st of this month 6pm to 10.30pm. For tickets, visit www.frightnight.co

YORK – Ghost Cruise on the River Ouse

City Cruises York has teamed up with York Dungeon to launch a spooktacular Ghost Cruise on the River Ouse.

Only the bravest are invited on-board this Halloween to celebrate in style and learn about the historic city of York’s dark past.

Sailing for one hour, famous Yorkshire prophetess Mother Shipton and Roman soothsayer Tiberius Fabius Bibulus will be on-board to share spooky ghost tales about the city. As guests explore the river, they will learn about 11 of the city’s most intriguing supernatural sightings.

Suitable for children aged six and over, the boat will have a fully stocked bar serving alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages as well as a range of tasty snacks.

Mark Mattinson, sales and marketing manager, City Cruises York said: “This year we have forged a very successful working partnership with York Dungeon and we are incredibly excited to offer one of our vessels as a floating stage for their award-winning actors to bring to life York’s spooky history.”

Stuart Jarman, general manager, York Dungeon said: “It’s great to continue our partnership with the team at York City Cruises to offer this thrilling Halloween product for both locals and visitors to York to enjoy.”

The Ghost Cruise departs King’s Staith Landings on 28th October 2017 and 31st October 2017 at 7pm and 8.30pm.

Adult (16+): £15.00

Child (6 – 15): £10.00

For more information and to book visit
www.citycruisesyork.com or call 020 77 400 400.

Temple Newsam Halloween Spooktacular

If you have younger children to entertain this Halloween, why not visit Temple Newsam for their Halloween Spooktacular on the 31st from 5pm-8pm. Children are invited to wear their scariest costumes and collect spooky treats in the haunted house and farm. Visit
www.whatson.leeds.gov.uk for tickets.

LOTHERTON HALL Halloween Weekend

Lotherton Hall has a Halloween weekend running on Sat 28th and Sunday 29th from 11am-4pm both days. There will be a chance for your little ones to meet some ghostly characters, face painting and crafts, as well as prizes for the best fancy dress. Visit
www.whatson.leeds.gov.uk for tickets.

However you spend Halloween, have a ‘spooktacular’ time!

The Yorkshire Reporter has
Halloween Treats to giveaway

Go to the competition page to enter

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