How do Brits celebrate Halloween?

Written by the Great British Mag content team on 27 October, 2017

My earliest memory of Halloween is sitting in our back garden with my parents, hacking away at a giant pumpkin with a knife. Around Halloween, Brits turn pumpkins into spooky lamps by carving eyes, a nose and a mouth into the biggest vegetable they can find. If you venture out on the evening of October 31, you’ll see lots of pumpkin heads casting eerie candlelight into streets and gardens.

Halloween was known originally as All Hallows Eve, the night before the Western Christian feast of All Hallows. Also known as All Saints Day, All Hallows celebrates Christian saints and martyrs. It is also a time to remember those who have died.

Halloween is not associated with Christianity any more. Nowadays, most Brits see it as a good excuse for a party: a night for telling ghost stories, watching horror movies and giving candy to trick-or-treaters.

Trick-or-treating has become popular in the UK, but it’s really an American import. People, usually children, dress up in costumes and go knock on their neighbours’ doors. They say “trick or treat” and the neighbour gives them some candy.

Scotland has its own brand of trick-or-treating called Guising. History records show that English children and poor people once said prayers for the dead in return for cake, a practice known as souling.

If you get invited to a Halloween party you might want to dress up as a witch, ghost, goblin or skeleton. There might be a bonfire and/or a barbeque and you might be asked to have a go at apple bobbing. This is an old game in which people try to pick up apples floating in a big bucket using their teeth. Yep, it’s a bit weird, but fun too.

If you want to celebrate with your housemates why not watch a scary movie? We suggest the original Halloween movie made in 1978 by American director John Carpenter. Watching psychotic killer Michael Myers stalking the streets of small-town America is still pretty creepy.

This question was from Armand, from France. If you have a question for our resident Brit, email us at askabrit@greatbritishmag.co.uk.