It's funny how some traditions live on. Halloween can be traced back to the ancient Celtic festival of Samhain which marked the end of summer and the onset of winter. It was believed that ghosts would appear on the 31st of October, so bonfires were lit in villages to ward off any evil spirits. Over the course of a few centuries, Samhain became Halloween, as we know it. The ghosts, are the trick or treaters. The fires are the pumpkin lanterns.
Halloween has changed even since I was a girl in the 1970's. For a start, we didn’t have pumpkin lanterns. Nor did we go out trick or treating.
We did have lanterns though. But they were made from turnips! And instead of trick or treating, we went out guising.
Our turnips might not have been up to the same standard as some of the gorgeous pumpkins I have seen on the internet, but their triangular eyes and those jagged teeth took a lot of hard work...and a lot of elastoplasts!
If you think carving a pumpkin is difficult, you need to try carving a turnip.
Our Halloween costumes were always handmade by Mums and Grans who were creative with old bed sheets, bin bags and crepe paper. But we were mostly turned out as ghosts or witches. To complete the ensemble, we wore cheap plastic face masks from the local shop. I hated those things. I couldn't see, couldn't breathe and they had a bad habit of pinging back on my face. (Maybe they're the 'unknown cause' of some people's TN)
After our performance (and there had to be one!), we'd get an apple or tangerine, a sweetie and a handful of monkey nuts. If we were really lucky, we were also given a silver coin or two, which we guarded with our lives. It might only have been five pence, but that would bring an enjoyable, mouthwatering half hour in the sweetie shop trying to decide whether to buy penny caramels, pineapple cubes, flying saucers or a 5p mix up.
Then came the Halloween parties...
If the hosts of the party were brave enough and had lots of plastic sheets to cover their floors, we played the treacle scone game. The scones, dripping in black, sticky treacle, dangled on a rope. We were blindfolded, and had to try to bite into a scone, without using our hands.
And of course, we dooked for apples. (Dooked, not looked - in case you thought it was a typo). No hands allowed, just face down into a basin full of bobbing apples and we had to bite one to win it. The cheat's way was to grab a stalk. I was probably a cheat - I didn't like my face in the water, or biting into an apple.
Wet, sticky and messy. But it was all fun.