Haunted Yorkshire

They're Closer Than You Think!

Halloween

 

HappyHalloween to all our visitors!!!!

Haunted Yorkshire were lucky to be asked to investigate the Red Lion in Pontefract on Halloween 2007, Click Here to see the experiment and reports.

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The Story of Halloween
The Black Cat
The Witches' Cauldron
Trick'O'Treat!
History Of The Jack-O'Lantern

The Story of Halloween

Halloween is one of the oldest holidays with origins going back thousands of years. The holiday we know as Halloween has had many influences from many cultures over the centuries. From the Roman's Pomona Day, to the Celtic festival of Samhain, to the Christian holidays of All Saints and All Souls Days.

 

Hundreds of years ago in what is now Great Britain and Northern France, lived the Celts. The Celts worshipped nature and had many gods, with the sun god as their favorite. It was "he" who commanded their work and their rest times, and who made the earth beautiful and the crops grow.

 

The Celts celebrated their New Year on November 1st. It was celebrated every year with a festival and marked the end of the "season of the sun" and the beginning of "the season of darkness and cold."

 

On October 31st after the crops were all harvested and stored for the long winter the cooking fires in the homes would be extinguished. The Druids, the Celtic priests, would meet in the hilltop in the dark oak forest (oak trees were considered sacred). The Druids would light new fires and offer sacrifices of crops and animals. As they danced around the fires, the season of the sun passed and the season of darkness would begin.

 

When the morning arrived the Druids would give an ember from their fires to each family who would then take them home to start new cooking fires. These fires would keep the homes warm and free from evil spirits.

 

The November 1st festival was called Samhain (pronounced "sow-en"). The festival would last for 3 days. Many people would parade in costumes made from the skins and heads of their animals. This festival would become the first Halloween.

 

During the first century the Romans invaded Britain. They brought with them many of their festivals and customs. One of these was the festival know as Pomona Day, named for their goddess of fruits and gardens. It was also celebrated around the 1st of November. After hundreds of years of Roman rule the customs of the Celtic's Samhain festival and the Roman Pomona Day mixed becoming 1 major fall holiday.

 

The next influence came with the spread of the new Christian religion throughout Europe and Britain. In the year 835 AD the Roman Catholic Church would make November 1st a church holiday to honour all the saints. This day was called All Saint's Day, or Hallowmas, or All Hallows. Years later the Church would make November 2nd a holy day. It was called All Souls Day and was to honour the dead. It was celebrated with big bonfires, parades, and people dressing up as saints, angels and devils.

 

But the spread of Christianity did not make people forget their early customs. On the eve of All Hallows, Oct. 31, people continued to celebrate the festivals of Samhain and Pomona Day. Over the years the customs from all these holidays mixed. October 31st became known as All Hallow Even, eventually All Hallow's Eve, Halloween, and then - Halloween.

 

The Halloween we celebrate today includes all of these influences, Pomona Day's apples, nuts, and harvest, the Festival of Samhain's black cats, magic, evil spirits and death, and the ghosts, skeletons and skulls from All Saint's Day and All Soul's Day.

 

The Black Cat

The black cat has long been associated with witches. Many superstitions have evolved about cats. It was believed that witches could change into cats. Some people also believed that cats were the spirits of the dead.

One of the best known superstitions is that of the black cat. If a black cat was to cross your path you would have to turn around and go back because many people believe if you continued bad luck would strike you.

The Witches' Cauldron

Witches and Warlocks have had a long history with Halloween. Legends tell of witches gathering twice a year when the seasons changed, on April 30 - the eve of May Day and the other was on the eve of October 31 - All Hallow's Eve.

 

The witches would gather on these nights, arriving on broomsticks, to celebrate a party hosted by the devil. Superstitions told of witches casting spells on unsuspecting people, transform themselves into different forms and causing other magical mischief.

 

It was said that to meet a witch you had to put your clothes on wrong side out and you had to walk backwards on Halloween night. Then at midnight you would see a witch.

 

When the early settlers went to America, they brought along their belief in witches. In America the legends of witches spread and mixed with the beliefs of others, the Native Americans - who also believed in witches, and then later with the black magic beliefs of the African slaves.

Trick'O'Treat!

Trick or treat, Smell my feet
Give me something good to eat !!!

 

The history of "Trick'O'Treating" can be traced back to the early celebrations of All Soul's Day in Britain. The poor would go begging and the housewives would give them special treats called "soulcakes". This was called "going a-souling", and the "soulers" would promise to say a prayer for the dead.

 

Over time the custom changed and the town's children became the beggars. As they went from house to house they would be given apples, buns, and money.

History Of The Jack-O'Lantern

Pumpkin carving is a popular part of modern America's Halloween celebration. Come October, pumpkins can be found everywhere in the country from doorsteps to dinner tables. Despite the widespread carving that goes on in this country every autumn, few Americans really know why or when the jack O'lantern tradition began. Or, for that matter, whether the pumpkin is a fruit or a vegetable. Read on to find out!

People have been making jack O'lanterns at Halloween for centuries. The practice originated from an Irish myth about a man nicknamed "Stingy Jack." According to the story, Stingy Jack invited the Devil to have a drink with him. True to his name, Stingy Jack didn't want to pay for his drink, so he convinced the Devil to turn himself into a coin that Jack could use to buy their drinks. Once the Devil did so, Jack decided to keep the money and put it into his pocket next to a silver cross, which prevented the Devil from changing back into his original form. Jack eventually freed the Devil, under the condition that he would not bother Jack for one year and that, should Jack die, he would not claim his soul. The next year, Jack again tricked the Devil into climbing into a tree to pick a piece of fruit. While he was up in the tree, Jack carved a sign of the cross into the tree's bark so that the Devil could not come down until the Devil promised Jack not to bother him for ten more years.

Soon after, Jack died. As the legend goes, God would not allow such an unsavory figure into heaven. The Devil, upset by the trick Jack had played on him and keeping his word not to claim his soul, would not allow Jack into hell. He sent Jack off into the dark night with only a burning coal to light his way. Jack put the coal into a carved-out turnip and has been roaming the Earth with ever since. The Irish began to refer to this ghostly figure as "Jack of the Lantern," and then, simply "Jack O'Lantern."

In Ireland and Scotland, people began to make their own versions of Jack's lanterns by carving scary faces into turnips or potatoes and placing them into windows or near doors to frighten away Stingy Jack and other wandering evil spirits. In England, large beets are used. Immigrants from these countries brought the jack O'lantern tradition with them when they came to the United States. They soon found that pumpkins, a fruit native to America, make perfect jack O'lanterns.

 

The Celts that lived in what is now Great Britain and Northern France would carry a lantern when they walked on the eve of October 31. These lanterns were carved out of big turnips and the lights were believed to keep the evil spirits away. Children would carve faces in the turnips. These carved turnips were called "jack-o-lanterns.

Legends have it that the "jack-o-lantern" got its name from a stingy and mean old man, named Jack, who when he died was too mean to get into heaven. When Jack went to hell he was meet by the Devil who gave him a piece of burning coal and sent him away. Jack placed the burning coal in a turnip to use as a lantern to light his way. The legends claim that Jack is still walking with the lantern looking for a place to stay.

 

When the early settlers came to America they found the big round orange pumpkin. Being larger and much more colorful than turnips, the pumpkin made great "jack-o-lanterns". Eventually the pumpkin would replace the turnip.

As the settlers spread across America they took their Halloween celebrations with them. The custom of the "jack-o-lantern" would travel with them. Eventually the Pumpkin would become the most widely recognized symbol of the Halloween holiday.

 

 

 

 Haunted Yorkshire would like to thank all its visitors to their site, please remember when investigating haunted locations or doing trick 'o' treat, NEVER go alone and always tell some-one where you are going!!!

Have a great Halloween!!!