Halloween - it's a strange thing - less than a decade ago it was thought to make up around £12 million of UK retail sales. This year it's predicted (by Mintel) to top £315 million! And Asda takes approximately half of that - selling 1 million pumpkins alone! So where did this tradition come from? And what has turned it into the 3rd biggest spending event in the calender?
The word Halloween comes from All Hallows' Evening - a religious tradition observed in a number of countries on 31st October - the evening of the Christian feast of All Hallows' Day. It marks the 3 day observance of Allhallowtide - the time of year dedicated to remembering the dead. For many, the Christian feast was influenced by the harvest as well as the abstinence of meat for that day, which is why apples, potatoes and pumpkins are most commonly associated with it.
It is thought the Jack O' Lantern came from an Irish folktale where "Jack" was a lost soul who was denied entry into either heaven or hell. Irish and Scottish immigrants went to the US at the start of the 19th century and took the traditions with them. They originally used turnips; but as pumpkins were native to the US and were larger and easier to carve these soon became more commonplace.
Now of course, for many, it's an opportunity to dress up, eat and party!
*Whilst researching this artlcle I came across many scary vintage images, but I've chosen a lovely pin-up rather than a group of Victorian children - you should thank me for not giving you nightmares for months to come!!*