Tag Archives: Halloween

Five things to do this Halloween

31 Oct

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If you’re at a loose end this Halloween and in the mood to be scared silly, here are some suggestions courtesy of Ghost Cities:

1 Thing to watch – the Babadook will scare you silly…

1 Thing to read – one classic by Wilkie Collins and one modern chiller by Joe Hill (slightly cheating here with two but I couldn’t resist!)

1 Thing to visit – the Witches and Wicked Bodies exhibition at the British Museum: just about the scariest place to visit this Halloween!

1 Thing to eat – here’s a ghoulishly good recipe for that old favourite: pumpkin pie!

1 Thing to listen to – what else but Saint-Saëns’ Danse Macabre?

Enjoy – Happy Halloween!

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Nutcrack Night

20 Oct

October 31st, known as Halloween to most, is also called a variety of other names in different parts of the world, including Samhain, Mischief Night and the Day of the Dead. In the Gaelic diaspora, the holiday is also traditionally known as Nutcrack Night. As the chill of autumn pervaded their homes, people would sit around their fires, eating newly harvested hazelnuts or chestnuts. Several fortune-telling customs grew up that involved throwing nuts into the fire, hence giving rise to the name ‘Nutcrack Night’ or ‘The Oracle of the Nuts’. It was a time, for example, when young people put nuts on the hearth to see if their sweethearts were true to them. If the nut burned normally, all was well, but if it burst or rolled away the sweetheart was, alas, untrue. In ancient times nuts were also an early divination tool, in the absence of more modern accoutrements such as crystal balls, tarot cards, runes and other arcana. The reason for this was simple – around the end of the harvest season, often there was not much left in the fields. However, nuts were often plentiful, making them the perfect medium for divination in the dying embers of autumn.

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Happy Halloween!

31 Oct

 

 

 

 

 

Just as a special treat I thought I’d include with today’s post a selection of past Halloween-themed posts that have appeared on this site. Enjoy!

As The Days Grow Shorter…

A Halloween Tale

October Dreams

A Treat for All Hallows’ Eve

The Day of the Dead

Winter Masks

28 Oct

With the fateful day not far away now, it struck me recently that Halloween is all about masks. When I was a child everyone seemed to wear them – and not just on All Hallows’ Eve. It all started with the perception that people seldom said what they really felt about anything. I wasn’t sure why, but I soon learned that apparently there was something impolite about frankness, and politeness was something that I took seriously growing up. I also came to believe that success or failure in life might be measured by how one handled one’s mask. The most famous actors of the day – Harrison Ford, Tom Cruise etc – were born with wonderful masks, or maybe they grew up with them, I didn’t know for sure. But in any case they handled them brilliantly and so putting on a mask, I thought, was a wonderful thing. If I could have got away with it, I think I would have worn one all the time – which made Halloween just about my favourite time of year! When I was young Halloween wasn’t something that you spent a lot of money on. Not many children went around in full costume as werewolves, witches, devils or what-not, but masks – which rarely cost more than a couple of pounds at most back in those happy days – were another matter. Each year the challenge became picking a mask that you could cobble up a matching costume for with little or no money. Eventually not just Halloween but the entire final third of the year became associated with masks and masquerades for me. As the old poem goes: ‘The winter light is pale and bright, and so the serpent basks. On snowy floor we waltz the score, we masquers are our masks’.

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The Day of the Dead

31 Oct

October 31 is everyone’s favourite horror holiday – the one time each year when the mundane is overturned in favour of the bizarre and anyone can become anything they wish. Whilst, at its core, Halloween seems to be a chance to confront our most primal fears (and often attempt to mock them!), it is also a holiday which encompasses many other things, including ancient beliefs, religious meanings, a multitude of ethnic heritages, diverse occult traditions and the continual influence of popular culture. Let’s have a look at the history of Halloween and what it means today.

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A Treat for All Hallows’ Eve

30 Oct

Hi All,

I couldn’t resist writing an extra post today with Halloween approaching – it is my favourite time of year after all! Bloodbath at the Haunted Manor (click to read!) is another sample of my own work in the form of an extract from a soon-to-be-published ghost story. Set in Blenheim Palace, a mansion rich in history which is located just outside Oxford and is perhaps the country’s most impressive stately home, the story is inspired both by my own student experiences and a famous local legend. I hope you enjoy it and, if nothing else, that the ghostly theme won’t put any would-be tourists off visiting Blenheim Palace, which is well worth a look-in for its gardens alone.

If you’re a fan of this site and/or my e-book, don’t forget that you can follow me on Twitter and Facebook, as well as visiting my UK & US Amazon Listings, by clicking on the links in the sidebar.

Do tune in this time tomorrow for a post which, in keeping with the Halloween season, will be my own take on the history of everyone’s favourite horror holiday!

That’s all folks 🙂

October Dreams

29 Oct

Looking for something to read over the Halloween season? Then look no further than October Dreams, by some distance the most impressive Halloween-themed anthology that I’ve ever read (and believe me, I’ve read a lot of them!). Full of classic novellas, never-before-published short stories, essays on the history, literature and films of Halloween – and favourite real-life memories of the holiday – all from the world’s foremost practitioners of fear, including Dean Koontz, Peter Straub, Ray Bradbury, Tim Lebbon, Richard Laymon and Ramsey Campbell. This isn’t just a good read, it’s also a collector’s item.

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