Your brief guide to… Hallowe’en

October 29, 2015 | Posted by ECA UK | No Comments »

The days are getting shorter and the evenings are getting darker, which means only one thing – that it will soon be time to listen out for things that go bump in the night, as October 31st and Hallowe’en are almost upon us. Traditionally the time when spirits and ghosts come out to ruin the crops before harvest, Hallowe’en (which is the shortened name of ‘All Hallows’ Eve’) is by many people no longer seen as the pagan and Christian festival it really is, but more a time for trick or treating, donning costumes, and for embracing all things horror.

The classic symbol of Hallowe’en is the pumpkin lantern, or the jack-o-lantern, with a pair of eyes and a wicked smile carved into it, and a candle inside to really give you a fright when the night draws in. Jack-o-lanterns look scary because that was their original purpose: to scare off the evil spirits and ghosts that threatened the crops. They’re now used as decoration and are a fun thing to make. You can buy pumpkins from supermarkets in the UK, and can find some great designs to carve into them. Instead of scaring away evildoers, pumpkin lanterns are something that you and your friends (or family) can make, and can be used to decorate your house or apartment and get into the Hallowe’en spirit.

One particular American tradition around Hallowe’en is ‘trick or treating’, which involves children dressing up in costumes and collecting sweets (or candy, if you must) from neighbours. The children dress up in suitably scary costumes, knock on their neighbours’ doors, and ask them, ‘Trick or treat?’ Usually the neighbour will say treat, and hand over some sweets for the children to take home, but sometimes they will ask the children to do some kind of trick in return. This is not very common in the UK, it has to be said, as we think ‘trick or treating’ is a kind of American export. There are other things for adults to do on Hallowe’en, of course, from the traditional to the non-traditional, and it’s always fun dressing up and heading out with your fellow students for some costumed fun.

There are loads of things to do for Hallowe’en in London and across the UK, and here is a selection of some of the best. Your university will probably have some events going on that you can participate in, or you can simply organise some with your friends. A Hallowe’en themed house party? That could be just the ticket.

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