You may associate Halloween with America, however, did you know you are actually in the land where this celebration originated? Celebrated on October 31st, it was a Celtic festival called Samhain (pronounced sow-in) when communities would come together to dress up and light bonfires to ward off dark spirits and ghosts… This month we’ll talk a little about some interesting facts about Halloween and the history of Halloween. We look at how we celebrate it and, of course, what we have planned for you as part of the Atlas Social Programme.
History of Halloween – Get the Facts!
The Celts, who occupied the regions now known as the United Kingdom, France and Ireland, celebrated their new year on November 1st. This time of year marked the end of the Summer and the harvest and the beginning of shorter days, longer nights and cold weather. They associated this impending darkness and cold with death. The Celts believed that on October 31st the dead could return to earth to damage crops and generally cause havoc! To combat this, villages would light sacred bonfires and dress in frightening costumes consisting of animal skins and animal heads in an attempt to keep the dead away! You can see where a lot of today’s customs come from. Other Roman and Christian traditions and later American influence made Halloween into the celebration it is in the present day.
For many children, Halloween is the highlight of their year! Typically they will either buy or make a scary (usually) costume in the weeks running up to October 31st. Once night falls, they will dress up, wear scary make-up and set off to go ‘Trick-or-Treating’. This involves going around to neighbours and all the houses in their area and knocking on doors shouting “Trick-or-Treat!”. At this point the person answering the door must give the children a treat (usually candy, nuts or fruit) or risk being tricked! Candy sales sky rocket in the run up to Halloween; In America, more than a quarter of all candy purchased annually is bought for Halloween!!
Of course teenagers and adults of all ages have their own celebrations for Halloween and the bank holiday that comes around that time helps facilitate this!
Get into the Spirit (get it?) of Halloween with us
We want to make sure you get the full spooky experience, so we have lots lined up in the coming month that we are really excited about.
Day time activities
We kick things off on Tuesday 23rd October with a visit to St Michan’s Church. This church still holds services like any other, however, below the building you’ll find vaults which contain the mummified remains of some of Ireland’s most influential, and often controversial,17th – 19th Century families.
Next up we have a tour of Glasnevin Cemetery. This is a famous Irish graveyard. The knowledgeable guides will bring around the site, imparting interesting and haunting stories about the people buried here.
When Night falls…
Make sure not to miss our pumpkin carving night on Wednesday 24th October!
The highlight of the Halloween festivities, if not the entire Social Programme year, is the Atlas Witch Hunt, taking place on Thursday 25th October this year. We will have terrifying characters, intriguing props and cunning clues dotted around the school and surrounding area – it’s your job to get around to all of them and get to the safety of the final destination (a frightening fiesta) before it’s too late! Gather a crew of friends and make sure to take part in this famous event. Costumes are a must – the more creative the better. There are prizes for the winners and best dressed on the night! Check out the picture of last year’s Witch Hunt and see what all the hype is about.
It doesn’t end there, we’ll also be taking you for a Hellfire Club hike and a visit to the Botanic gardens to see their Autumn display. Check out the October Calendar to see what’s in store!
If you’re interested in finding out about what else we do as part of our social programme why not check out some of our previous posts! If there’s something you’d like to read about, why not let us know, we’d love to hear from you. Suggestions for activities are also always welcome