The history of Halloween – It’s not all about sweet treats!

As anyone who has visited our Vintage Village or been to one of our themed historical events knows, we love a bit a history at Kent Life. Here, we uncover the origins and traditions associated with Halloween.

Halloween, a time to stuff your face full of sweets, dress in a scary costume and tell spooky stories. But did you know that the origins of Halloween began over 2000 years ago and originate from the Celtic festival Samhain? Samhain (pronounced sow-in) is a Pagan Celtic tradition, traditionally held at the end of the harvest when the veil between the living and dead is believed to be the thinnest. Samhain is hailed as a time to honour life and death and make predictions about the future, aided by the presence of spirits. It was commemorated by lighting huge crackling bonfires, delivering sacrifices, and dressing up.

As Christianity spread in the eighth and ninth century, November 1st became a day to honour saints, known as ’All Saints Day’. The evening before became All Hallows Eve…. sound familiar?

Over the years, there have been many interesting traditions linked to this spooky holiday. Did you know there were many links to matchmaking and finding a future husband? Women would throw apple peelings over their shoulders hoping the shape it formed on the floor would reveal the initials of their future husband. It was also thought that if you stood in front of a mirror in a darkened room, with only a candle for light, you may be able to see your future husband’s face behind you……. how scary!

What we now know today as ‘trick or treating’ is said to have originated from an Irish tradition involving playing pranks and tricking neighbours. It is believed that sweets were introduced to bribe children to not play tricks and instead, keep the peace. Though, it is also believed that the origins of trick or treating came from All Souls Day where the poor Soulers’ would beg for food and were given soul cakes in return for prayers for the dead… it’s all sounding pretty creepy to us!

Irish immigrants brought the popularity of Halloween over to America, where today it’s one of the biggest annual holidays for families. Modern celebrations include decorating our houses, dressing up, hosting parties, and coming together in our communities.

In the past, dressing up at Halloween was meant to aid in disguising yourself from roaming spirits. Flash forward to the 21st century and people are dressing in a variety of costumes to celebrate and be seen on Halloween… for one night you can become a grizzly werewolf, a vicious vampire, or a ghostly ghoul.

Join us in celebrating this fascinating tradition at our popular Halloween Spooktacular – a spooky week full of family fun and games from the 23rd – 31st October. Our spine-chilling activities include a wooden ghost hunt, terrifying tractor rides, an owl flying demo and a new Spooky Scavenger Hunt! If you are feeling brave enough, you can also go trick or treating in Kent Life’s historic houses, be careful though as there may be something scary lurking behind the door!

To find out more about Kent Life’s Halloween Spooktacular and take a look at this year’s Halloween activity pack, click here.