Thursday, 25 October 2012

Happy Halloween!

Hubble, Bubble, Toil and Trouble......
It's that time of year again. Time to dig out the scary mask from the box in the attic (it's a shame trick-or-treaters don't call first thing in the morning, there may be less call for a goulish mask then....), don a spooky cape and terrify the neighbourhood; well, at least make them laugh!
Of course, it's fast approaching Halloween, or All Hallow's Evening to give it it's proper name. The historical origins of Halloween are debated - some scholars think it comes from the Christian tradition of celebrating All Saints Day on the 1st November. This was a day to honour and remember saints and for praying for those souls that had recently passed away. There began a tradition of collecting cakes for these souls the evening before All Saints Day, as well as dressing up as gouls and ghosts to represent the souls floating around in purgatory.
Be careful what you witch for.....
Image by BeverlyLR on
Other historians believe that the celebrations of Halloween are much more influenced by the Celtic and Pagan festival of Samhain - the feast and celebrations that the Celts undertook at the end of summer. Pagans believed that Samhain was when the door to the spirit world was opened just enough for ghosts, fairies and spirits to sneak into our world and cause a bit of havoc. Feasts were held in their honour, and places were set at tables for dead relatives and friends, but in order to scare away the beastly ghosts, goulish costumes were worn.

But what about the scary pumpkins? Traditionally in Ireland and Scotland, turnips were used to create creepy faces to frighten the demons, but early immigrants to America in the late eighteenth century began using pumpkins because the were larger and easier to carve. Of course pumpkins are also traditionally associated with the October harvest, and are usually plentiful at this time of year.

Don't forget your pumpkin.....
Image by kgreggain on

So, grab your pumpkin and your witches hat and let's celebrate Halloween in style. For a truly terrifying day out, why not hop on the local Ffestiniog Railway spooky Halloween Express? The trains run from Porthmadog Harbour station up to Tan-y-Bwlch on 27th, 28th and 29th October. There's more information here. Advance booking is essential as these trains are usually very popular!

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