Saturday, October 23, 2021

Things That Go Bump in the Night


Our Round Robin leader asked us to share a childhood memory or scariest experience of October 31st. All Hallow’s Eve or Hallowe’en, the one night in the year when ghosts, ghouls, witches and wizards, sprites and gobbledygook’s are supposed to go bump in the night.

Growing up in post-war England, although we all knew what Halloween was, I don’t ever recall celebrating it in the way it is celebrated today. The festivals I do remember were Christmas, New Year, and Easter. In a few of the locations we lived there were also Mayday celebrations, usually in the form of a church or village fete, dancing around the Maypole being a feature of the latter.

It wasn’t until my children were growing up that we began to have Halloween parties. We might have decorated inside the house with tattered rags hung over a pointy hat and a cobweb or two populated by homemade spiders, but there were no outside displays as can be seen today. There were no costumes no trick or treating, just simple games like apple bobbing, hide and seek in the dark, and carving jack o’ lanterns. One year I found a set of red glassware which made whatever liquid in it look a bit like blood but, as the kids attending that party didn’t much like the effect, it was never repeated. Definitely different from today when it seems the gorier the better.

But why all the interest in Hallowe’en? Traditionally, from the earliest pagans until now, October 31st has been celebrated as a festival of darkness. It is the time of year when the veil between the living and the dead is considered to be at its thinnest, allowing departed souls to return and walk among us.

In some cultures, an extra place will be laid at the table. In others, to keep dead souls away, bonfires will be lit and those brave enough among the living may jump over them. Mexico’s


Dia de los Muertos, or Day of the Dead, is probably known world-wide. For Wiccans, Hallowe’en, or Samhain (Sowin) is celebrated as one of the four great Sabbats forming the Wheel of the Year.

I don’t remember any scary experience from my childhood years but my scariest Hallowe’en was the one when my Dear Departed Husband, who was a dyed-in-the-wool Stephen King fan, decided we should watch the movie IT, with Tim Curry playing the role of Pennywise.

Tim Curry in makeup for Pennywise

We closed the drapes, lit candles, and sat down to watch the movie. But—I have never liked clowns (coulorphobia) and as the movie played out I either covered my eyes or my ears, much to his amusement. When I said I’d had enough and was going into another room to read, he realized that I was not joking. I’m not sure if he watched the movie to the end but he did promise that there would never be a repeat performance, and there never was.

It’s fair to say I am not much of a Hallowe’en fan but don’t mind the trick or treaters, although I do wonder if any of them would be happy with one little soul cake as was the tradition. Children and poor people would go round to wealthy houses promising to pray for the people of the house if they provided a cake (treat) or a trick (some form of mischief) if they were sent away empty handed. Next, visit these Round Robin bloggers to see what trick or treat they might have in store for you.

Skye Taylor

Anne Stenhouse

Marci Baun

Connie Vines

Dr. Bob Rich

Rhobin L Courtright



  1. I like the idea of soul cakes. In one neighborhood I live in as an adult, the fathers accompanied the kids while moms stayed home to give out the treats. But the dads also carried shot glasses and accommodating hostesses would fill them. Not sure who was in charge by the end of the evening??

  2. I didn't know much about the history of the day, so found your blog interesting. I might have to make some soul cakes for Halloween. Good post!

    1. Thanks Rhobin. The early church based several of their celebrations around pagan festivals in the hopes of encouraging those who had converted to Christianity to attend church. Is it a coincidence that the pagan festival of Ostara aligns with Easter, Yule with Christmas, and Imbolc with Candlemass in February, which traditionally was the end of the Christmas period. I guess it was a case of if you can't beat 'em, join 'em. By the way, mine is a very potted history!

  3. Well, considering how we had scares in the early 80s about razor blades in apples, I do not think anyone would accept a soul cake anymore. Everything has to be packaged up around here. I’m unsure where we’ll be this Halloween. Maybe at my mom’s, maybe at home. It’s kind of sad as Halloween is one of my favorite holidays.

  4. I remember the scares around Halloween treats back then and was happy that my kids had grown out of it. I think my favourite festival is Harvest Festival which in the UK is held in September. When I was really little I loved seeing the sheaves of wheat stacked against the altar rail in our church with loaves of bread, baskets of fruits and vegetables, all of which were distributed to the parish after the service.

  5. When my children were small, they came back from guising one year with their haul of small apples, sweets, some cash and - toothbrushes handed out by the dentists who'd moved in across the road! Anne

  6. I'll be generous and say they were thinking of the childrens' health!