Halloween Games and Facts

Published on: 17/10/21

Forget any grumbles about Halloween being Americanised or commercialised, it’s a long-held British tradition in its own right, and a popular fixture on the UK events calendar, perfect for brightening up the darkening evenings. Keying into our unceasing appetite for horror films and anything with zombies or vampires in, Brits now spend millions of pounds on costumes, decorations, event and treats. And with the ghosts of last year’s confinement still hovering around many of us, what better way to keep the kids (big and small) entertained than with some scarily good fun?

Hauntingly Historical

Far from being a modern ‘Americanism’, the origins of Halloween actually date back thousands of years, to the ancient Celtic festival of Samhain. Essentially a farming and agricultural people, the pre-Christian Celtic year was determined by the growing seasons and Samhain marked the end of summer and the harvest and the beginning of the dark cold winter. The festival symbolised the boundary between the world of the living and the world of the dead, an important time to pay homage to ancestors, and keep the fires lit to ensure safe passage through the lean months ahead.

The festival persisted in various forms through subsequent conquests such as the Romans, Saxons, and the pervasion of a new religion, Christianity. This included Christian festivals, including ‘All Hallows’ Day’ or ‘All Saints Day’, originally celebrated on 13th May, but moved by Pope Gregory to 1st November sometime in the 8th century, possibly in an attempt to replace or assimilate the Celtic Samhain festival of the dead with a related but church approved celebration.

So October 31st- Samhain- became known as All-hallows-even, then Hallow Eve, later Hallowe’en and now of course usually Halloween. Throughout Britain, Halloween has traditionally been celebrated by children’s games such as telling ghost stories and the carving of pumpkins into hollowed-out candle lanterns with leering faces, and of course, the hugely popular pastime of ‘trick-or-treating’!

Trick or Treat?

One of the most visible symbols of it being Halloween is seeing troupes of children in all sorts of related- and not-so related!- dressing-up attire, knocking on doors in the neighbourhood in the early evening of October 31st, patient adult in tow!

The incredible popularity of this in recent years is rightly attributed to the American mania for all things Halloween. Although it is unknown precisely where and when the phrase ‘trick or treat’ was coined, the custom had been firmly established in American popular culture by 1951, when trick-or-treating was depicted in the Peanuts comic strip. Donald Duck and his nephews soon followed suit, going trick-or-treating in a 1952 Disney cartoon.

However, it has its roots in the medieval tradition of ‘souling’, when over the All Souls and All Saints festivals, poor people would visit the houses of wealthier families and receive pastries called soul cakes in exchange for a promise to pray for the souls of the homeowners’ dead relatives. The practice was later taken up by children, who would go from door to door asking for gifts such as food, money and ale. Trick or treating continued, becoming so popular that even the blackout and rationing of World War II couldn’t stop it!

Despite fears of trick-or-treating being overtaken by commercialisation, it remains a lovely tradition to see young accompanied children enjoying safely. A nice recent convention has been households which are happy to be trick-or-treated displaying a lit Halloween lantern. By selecting these houses, parties are sure of a warm reception tradition (and these days you’re more likely to get offered sweets than asked for a trick)- so get your witch mask on, your lantern lit, and join in the fun!

Fun for Everyone

Of course, you can’t miss it being Halloween for all the spooky-themed paraphernalia on sale and decorative displays seemingly in every shop, restaurant, advert, jingle, and movie around this time!

However, it does mean there’s lots of offer if you want to make a real spooky party of it. From ghost walks to pop-up haunted houses and escape rooms, most venues put on special Halloween-themed events and nights, providing something for every spook-seeker- so make sure you check out some of your local attractions through Let’s Go Out, and see what treats they’ve dug up! The big movie studios also often release spooky themed films around this time, like ‘Beetlejuice’, ‘The Witches’, ‘Death Becomes Her’ and Pixar’s wonderful ‘Coco’, about the Mexican Day of the Dead (Halloween turned up to 11!), so there’s plenty to sit down and enjoy with some popcorn.

And don’t forget there’s plenty of family fun you can have yourself, not just trick-or-treating, but resurrecting lovely Halloween games and traditions including bobbing for apples in buckets, getting creative with costumes and props, playing scary practical jokes, and of course telling ghost stories. As our ancestors would have done, it’s also a nice time to take a moment to remember departed loved ones as you light that home-carved pumpkin lantern- mine’s the very lumpy-looking one!

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

We have also put together a list of frequently asked questions at the link below, which include some Top Tips and Did you know information, which you can use to show off with your friends and family

  • Read our frequently asked questions (FAQs) - Click Here

We hope that you have enjoyed reading our article called Halloween Games & Facts and that you have found the information above include our FAQ page helpful in deciding on which venue you to choose for your Activities and Days Out

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