Five Things You may not know about Halloween (& great books for it)

‘Small Town Horrors’ by Joseph Roy Wright (Published 2022).
‘The Halloween House’ by Riley Cain (Published 2020).

Fact #1: It All Began in Ireland

Halloween is based on an ancient Celtic festival called ‘Samhain’, first celebrated over 2,000 years ago in County Meath. The Celts believed it was a time of transition, when the veil between this world and the next came down, and the spirits of all who had died that year moved on to the next life. But if the boundaries between the worlds of the living and the dead overlapped, the deceased could come back to life and wreak havoc among the living. 

Fact #2: Trick or Treating Derives from a European Tradition

On All Souls Day, poor people would visit the houses of their wealthier neighbours for a ‘soul cake’ – a form of shortbread – in return for which the beggars promised to pray for the dead of the household. Known as ‘souling’, the practice was later taken up by children, who would go from door to door asking for gifts such as food and money. Irish and Scottish communities in the US revived the tradition, although it was put on hold for several years during World War II due to sugar rationing.

Fact #3: 30th October is known as Mischief Night

October, 30th has traditionally been enjoyed as ‘Mischief Night’ or ‘Goosey Night’ in different parts of the UK. While it’s not quite as popular as it once was, this occasion saw young pranksters taking to the streets with eggs, toilet paper and other unwanted nasties to shower their neighbours’ homes.

Fact #4: Everyone Loves a World Record

Did you know that the UK holds a Halloween-related world record? In November 2019, the longest line of carved pumpkins – 4,164 to be exact – was achieved by River Dart Country Park in Ashburton, as part of a public initiative to encourage the local community to get together and enjoy an Autumnal activity.

Fact #5: One Last Magic Trick by Houdini

The internationally renowned magician Houdini died on Halloween. Born Erich Weisz (1874 – 1926), Harry Houdini was a Hungarian-American escape artist, illusionist, and stunt performer, known for his escape acts. His repertoire included chains and handcuffs escapes, ropes slung from skyscrapers and straitjackets under water. His last appearance was at the Garrick Theater in Detroit, Michigan, on October 24, 1926, where he performed despite having a high fever due to appendicitis. He was reported to have passed out during the show but was revived and continued. Afterwards, he was hospitalised where he died from peritonitis aged 52.

We wouldn’t be who we are if we left you without a couple of good books to read for Halloween and beyond.

‘You’ll never guess what I saw last night, A witch flew across the moon’

‘The Halloween House’ is a poetry collection like no other… Penned by Riley Cain for his own young nieces and nephews, it offers 31 rotten rhymes, one for each night in October, putrid poems to build the creepy mood and offer a few laughs along the way. Learn just why The Scarecrow Smiles, take A Shortcut Through the Graveyard, board The Devil’s Locomotive and hear the dreadful truth about The Witch’s Knickers! Accompanied by an array of colourful illustrations from nine different artists, the poems that live in ‘The Halloween House’ offer thrills and spills for every little monster to enjoy.

The perfect Halloween anthology, a collection of spooky tales set within the northwest of England, telling ghost stories based off real urban legends, such as the headless horseman. It also contains murder mysteries and absurd horror tales featuring an evil pirate and demonic frog. This book has plenty of laughs and scares, it is a whacky yet terrifying read, suited to a mature audience. To all ghost hunters out there: you just can’t afford to miss this daunting collection!

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