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Halloween 2023

Authored by British Online Archives
Published on 31st October, 2023 1 min read


Known to many as Halloween, tonight (31/10/2023) is All Hallows’ Eve, a festival observed in many parts of the world. Traditionally, to celebrate the occasion, people carve pumpkins into “jack-o-lanterns”, don scary costumes, tell ghost stories, and go “trick-or-treating”: calling at nearby homes to ask for chocolate or sweets. Nowadays, Halloween is mainly regarded as an evening of fun, aimed primarily at children, but it has a long and fascinating history. 

In Christianity, All Hallows’ Eve precedes All Saints’ Day and, in the earliest years of the Church, believers would hold vigils on this night to prepare for the Feast of All Saints. However, some suggest that the roots of Halloween can be traced back even further: to the Celtic festival of “Samhain”, which first appeared in the historical record in the ninth century CE. This festival was celebrated throughout what is now Scotland, Ireland, and the Isle of Man, and was believed to be a time when the border between this world and the “Otherworld” was weakest, allowing the passage of spirits to and from each side. Not unlike today, it is thought that observers would wear costumes and light bonfires to mark this event (as well as sacrificing animals and feasting). In short, Halloween has a rich and varied past, and it continues to evolve.

To all those taking part in tonight’s festivities, British Online Archives would like to wish you a happy (and very spooky) Halloween!

Authored by British Online Archives

British Online Archives

British Online Archives provides unique collections of primary source documents for students and researchers studying the Humanities and Social Sciences.

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Notable Days


The British Online Archives Notable Days diary is a platform intended to mark key dates and events throughout the year. The posts draw attention to historical events and figures, as well as recurring cultural traditions and international awareness days, in both religious and secular contexts.

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