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Halloween 2023

Halloween is one of many people’s favourite nights of the year. Dressing up, parties, trick or treating and pumpkin carving are just some of the things that make Halloween so special. But where do these traditions come from, how do we honour them now, and how can we protect wildlife whilst we celebrate?

The Origins of Halloween

Halloween dates back to the ancient Celtic festival of Samhain. It marked the end of summer and the harvest and the beginning of the dark, cold winter, a time of year that was often associated with human death. Celts believed that on the night before the new year the margin between the realms of the living and the dead became obscured. On October 31st, they celebrated Samhain when it was believed that the ghosts of the dead returned to earth.

Celts thought that the return of these spirits made it easier for the Druids (Celtic priests) to make predictions about the future. To commemorate the event, Druids built sacred bonfires. People would then burn crops and animals as sacrifices to the Celtic deities. During the celebration, they wore costumes, typically consisting of animal heads and skins, and attempted to tell each other’s fortunes.

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Modern Celebrations

Cornwall has many Halloween events which aim to honour traditional celebrations. This year, Tintagel hosted The Dark Gathering (Cornwall’s All Hallows Gathering). This event aims to pay tribute to folklore, inviting Morris dancers and folk singers as entertainment to honour Cornwall’s history.

The Eden Project celebrated Halloween with Halloweden. It included a “special quest to protect the world’s forests, guided by the legendary Tree Giants… you’ll discover the Tree Giants’ ancient wisdom, hear extraordinary tales and witness enchanting performances.”

Don’t worry if you missed this year’s celebrations, there is always next year to get involved!

Wildlife and Halloween

The Cornish Seal Sanctuary released a list of things you can do to make your Halloween more environmentally friendly. This includes: Keeping pumpkins out of reach. Pumpkin carving is great fun but pumpkins can cause animals, like hedgehogs, to get very ill. Keep pumpkins out of reach of these animals. Check Bonfires before lighting them. Heaps of material (like bonfires) often house hedgehogs (amongst other creatures) so check that none are hibernating before you light the bonfire.

Last year, we posted a guide to making pumpkin dog treats so your pumpkin did not go to waste. Click here to see it!

We hope you have a great Halloween and, if you stayed with us this year, we hope you had a great visit!