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Chester: England's Most Haunted City

Halloween

Halloween lanternIn western tradition, Hallowe'en, or All Saints' Eve - the evening of 31 st October - is a time when all natural laws are suspended and ghosts and demons roam the world.

It also marks the autumn equinox, a turning point in the world's natural cycles when day and night are of equal length. Halloween is the day in ancient Celtic lore when summer ends and winter begins.

Halloween's earliest associations are with the European Celtic festival of Samhain , which marked the end of one year and the start of the next. Great fires were traditionally lit and purifying ceremonies carried out. In Cheshire, the villagers at Alvanley - not far from Chester - still leapt through the flames in spring and autumn as late as the 18th century. In some districts the farmers carried burning brands through the fields to purify the soil and protect the crops from harm during the coming year. Even today, bonfires are lit at this season, albeit on 5th November in Britain, in the guise of Guy Fawkes night.

Our Celtic ancestors also believed Samhain (or Hallowe'en) was a time when a doorway opens between this world and the next, a time when supernatural creatures come into the open, and the souls of the dead revisit their former homes. The doorway opened both ways, too, and the careless or unwary could be pulled into another world. To our Celtic ancestors, Halloween was all too literally the 'Night of the Living Dead'.

The introduction of Christianity to Britain and Europe saw Samhain taken over and ‘rebranded' as All Hallows, or All Saints' Eve – the night before the Christian feast of All Saints' Day.

Today, Halloween customs continue across Britain and the USA, with children making pumpkin lanterns and dressing up as witches and warlocks, ghosts and skeletons to go ‘trick or treating' – walking from house to house after dark collecting sweets and money.

 


   
 
 
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