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Trick or Treat?


All Hallows Eve (Halloween) is the night before All Saints Day which falls on November 1st. Our traditions are steeped in history and so here is a little potted version of the meaning of Halloween and its associated traditions.

Some of the rituals and pastimes we practise on October 31st originated during Celtic times, followed by the Roman influence in the U.K. and Ireland. The ancient Celtic festival of Samhain ( pronounced Sow in) was celebrated with the lighting of bonfires and the wearing of costumes to ward off ghosts. Celts, who lived over 2000 years ago celebrated New Year on November 1st. This day marked the end of summer and the harvest and the beginning of the cold, dark winter ( no turning back the clocks in those days!). This time of year was associated with human death ( maybe the first time influenza and breathing difficulties made an appearance after the sunny, summer months?) Celts believed that on the night before New Year, the boundary between the worlds of the living and the dead became blurred. On the night of October 31st they celebrated Samhain, when it was believed that the ghosts of the dead returned to earth.  Whilst it is easy to mock their beliefs, the Celts firmly believed in this.

By 43 AD the Roman Empire had conquered the majority of Celtic territory. Two festivals of Roman origin were combined with the Celtic celebration of Samhain. The first was Feralia, a day in late October when the Romans traditionally commemorated the passing of the dead. The second was a day to honour Pomona, the Roman goddess of fruit and trees. The symbol of Pomona is the apple, and probably explains the tradition of apple bobbing that is practised today on Halloween.

Halloween parties for both children and adults became the most common way to celebrate the day. Parties focussed on games, foods of the season and festive costumes, especially the wearing of masks.

In the USA Halloween celebrations are big business, much more so than here in the U.K. One quarter of all sweets sold annually are purchased for Halloween ( a dentist’s nightmare!) Americans spend an estimated $6 billion annually on Halloween, making it the country’s second largest commercial holiday!

So however you are going to celebrate Halloween, whether it is an activity such as trick or treating, carving jack o lanterns, festive gatherings, donning costumes and eating treats, have a fabulous time. And, whilst celebrating, remember the Celts and the Romans and their influence on this tradition.

If you're planning an event this October then what better way than to celebrate with our Chocolate Making Event or to really get in the 'spirit' of things, our Cocktail Making Event can be tailored with a spooky Halloween theme. Contact our team on 01590 607101 to discuss your event options! 


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