Halloween: Learn about its history and what you can do in Havering this spooky season

18:00 26 October 2013

Jack O

Jack O'Lanterns come from an old Irish tradition

PA Archive/Press Association Images

Every October 31, we dig out our old vampire, ghosts and witches costumes and go trick or treating, or we bob for apples at Halloween parties, or we might just stay in and watch a classic horror movie.

There is plenty to do for all ages this HalloweenThere is plenty to do for all ages this Halloween

But how did this tradition of Halloween begin?

Halloween – once better known as All Hallow’s Eve - began around 2,000 years ago and was part of the ancient Celtic festival of Samhain.

It was believed on this night, the worlds of the living and the dead would overlap and the dead would come back to life to cause mayhem.

On Halloween, many wore costumes and masks to either hide their identities from the dead, or in an attempt to appease the evil spirits by mimicking them.

Souling, now better known as trick or treating, also started in the Middle Ages where children would dress up and beg for money or food in exchange for songs and prayers, which they said they did on behalf of the dead.

Jack O’Lanterns became part of the tradition, thanks to the Irish folklore of Stingy Jack, who was punished for tricking the Devil by being sent into the night with only a burning coal.

Stingy Jack then placed the lump of coal into a carved-out pumpkin and when Irish immigrants travelled to America, the home of the pumpkin, it was instead used to make the Jack O’Lanterns we know today.

So before you run off to go trick or treating, just remember that Halloween is more than just an excuse to get sweets!

Here are a few things you can do this Halloween:

Halloween Trail

Follow the creepy clues at the Halloween Trail in Thorndon Country Park.

With spooky riddles to solve and a prize at the end, this is guaranteed to be a fun day out.

The walk starts at 10.30am in The Avenue, Brentwood, on October 30.

The trail is suitable for those aged three years and older. Tickets cost £4 and there is free entry for adults.

For more information call 0845 603 7624.

Children’s Halloween party

Let your children celebrate Halloween at a special party for those aged between five and 10.

The party will be held on the October 31 from 11am to noon at the Gidea Park Library in Balgores Lane.

Admission is £5 for library members and £5.50 for non-members.

For more details visit

Meet Ghost Hunters

Join the world of a ghost hunter for one night only at the Collier Row Library.

On October 28, an Essex ghost hunting team will tell you about the equipment needed to find the paranormal and will share their own chilling tales.

The night starts at 7pm and booking is essential so to secure your place please call 01708 434 936.

The Woman in Black

Scare yourself silly at the production of the horror story The Woman in Black.

A production of the Susan Hill novel will be performed tomorrow (Saturday), Sunday and, and November 2 at 8pm at the Brookside Theatre in Eastern Road, Romford.

Tickets cost £13 and the money will go towards helping the Meningitis Trust.

For further details call 01708 755775.


Stuck for things to do this Halloween? We’ve found some more fun and frightening events in the borough and further afield for you to take part in.

Let the children run free on October 28 at a free trick or treat hunt around Romford Shopping Hall, running from 10am-4pm. Go to Alpha Books on the ground floor to start the day.

But if this doesn’t take your fancy, then perhaps you should head to Wat Tyler County Park in Basildon, where you can experience Cursed, a terrifying walk that will scare you senseless.

Top Golf in Chigwell will also be holding a House of Horrors themed party, serving “shocktails” with a DJ playing music till 1am.


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