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24 September 2014

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For Friday 31 October 2003
Halloween history
Halloween montage
Skulls and ghosts and all things spooky

Ghosts and ghouls and things that go 'bump' in the night.

Halloween's coming so get prepared to have the fright of your life.


» Traditions

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Halloween guide
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Halloween recipes

Halloween Graveyard
Fun and games from Evila.

British Horror Films
Chris Wood's guide to 'a century's-worth of entertaining bunkum...'

Hammer Films
akers of some of the best of British horror.

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Gosforth Hall hotel is said to have its upper floors made from the timbers from a shipwreck. Legend suggests these timbers groan with the spirits of those sailors who lost their lives.

At Dalston Hall Lady Jane is said to appear in Tudor dress in the gallery above the manorial hall.

A vampire is said to have stalked the tenants of Croglin Grange during the mid 19th Century.

At Lowther Hall, it's said that, at the funeral of James Lowther his spirit attacked a praying clergyman.

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Halloween, Samhain, El Día de Los Muertos, All Saints' Eve. Call it what you like, it's still the last day of October and always a good excuse for a party - but why?

Samhain (pronounced 'sow-in') was the end of the Celtic year, and like all good new-years-eves a good excuse for a party and get-together. However this was more than just a good time together. It was of major importance to the Celts.

Samhain marked the end of summer and the start of the cold, dark winter and was a day when the druidic priests of the Celts belived that the dead could come back to the earth and cause trouble for the living.

To counter this, the druids built large, sacred bonfires to chase away the dead and for the people to sacrifice possessions and food to the Celtic gods.

It was also believed that if you lit a new fire in your house, from the embers of the sacred bonfire, that no evil could enter your house, whilst the fire stayed lit.

Roman additions

When the Romans invaded the British Isles they added their own customs and traditions to those of the Celts. Two of the most notable were
the celebration of Feralia - the Roman comemoration of the dead and the day of honour for Pomona, goddess of fruit and trees.

Feralia was held on a day in late October or early November, so tied in with the existing Samhain festivities and beliefs. Whilst Pomona celembrated the harvest with her fruit - the apple. A possible reason for 'bobbing for apples'.

Church connection

As Christianity took hold of the Celtic world, the church took many of the existing pagan festivals and re-invented them as Christian holidays and celebrations.

In the 7th Century, Pope Boniface IV dedicated the Pantheon in Rome to the Virgin Mary on 13 May. This holiday was then changed to 1 November by Pope Gregory III and the Pantheon rededicated to the honour of 'All Saints in the Vatican Basilica', as an attempt to remove the Samhain festivals from the Celtic calender.

Later, in the 11th Century, 2 November was made 'All Souls' Day' - a day of honouring the dead. Celebrated in the same manner as Samhain, with bonfires, parades, costumes and feasts.

The whole celebration now lasted three days, from 31 October to 2 November and was known as Hallowmas.

Feature by Adam Flett and Mark Robertson

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