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Hallowe’en events are taking place across Redbridge today, but why is it celebrated?

PUBLISHED: 12:02 31 October 2012 | UPDATED: 14:02 01 November 2012

Rosie and Stephanie Harrison prepare for the evening's trick or treat

Rosie and Stephanie Harrison prepare for the evening's trick or treat

Archant

It’s the witching hour in Redbridge and demons, devils, witches, werewolves, vampires and ghouls are taking to the streets in search of sweets.

Read our special in tomorrow’s Recorder to see what children, adults and workers in Redbridge have been getting up to for Hallowe’en.

The origins of Hallowe’en are shrouded in mystery but ancient pagan and Christian festivals go some way to explaining modern customs.

The festival of Samhain, meaning end of summer, was celebrated around October 31 to mark the end of harvest and beginning of the dark winter.

It was said to be a time when the door to the “otherworld” opened to allow the souls of the dead, fairies and the supernatural to come into our world.

People set places at the table to welcome loved ones but harmful spirits were warned off with turnip lanterns.

In the 18th century, groups of boys in Ireland used to go from door to door asking for fuel for the Samhain bonfire.

But the tradition of trick or treating may also have come from the Christian practice of “souling”

Adults and children used to collect soul cakes from houses to pray for souls in purgatory.

Christian holy days All Saints’ Day and All Souls’ Day usually fall on November 1 and 2.

The first day honoured the saints, while the second was a chance to remember and pray for souls trapped in purgatory.

Wearing costumes has been linked to both pagan and Christian rites as a way to confuse evil spirits and souls wanting vengeance.


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