Halloween in Communities | The British Newspaper Archive Blog


Halloween in Communities

Halloween in communities
Calling up witches
Calling up witches | Sheffield Daily Telegraph | 2 November 1931

How Halloween is viewed varies from place to place and its traditions are just as diverse. A sense of how Halloween is treated in a given place can be glimpsed in its portrayal in cinema, music, and literature.

Treat yourself to a poem written on the topic by John Mayn, printed in 1805 in The Scots Magazine.

Halloween poem
Halloween by John Mayn | The Scots Magazine | 1 January 1805

A notice in the Illustrated Sporting and Dramatic News mentioned a Halloween tradition practised in ‘olden times’ in Scotland.

Scottish Halloween tradition
Scottish tradition | Illustrated Sporting and Dramatic News | 5 November 1887


Another Halloween tradition we discovered also came from Scotland: a custom popular among the young girls of Scotland that will, it is said, show them the face of their future husband.

Popular Scottish custom
Popular custom among young girls in Scotland | Graphic | 5 November 1910

Hallowe’en, the eve or vigil of All-Hallows’ or All Saints’ Day, has ever been associated with supernatural influences, as the night set apart for universal walking abroad of spirits, both of the living and the dead. It is a popular custom among young girls in Scotland and the North of England to take a candle on this particular night–October 31–into an empty room, and there to peer into a mirror. The faces of their future husbands are then supposed to appear in the glass if they are to be married within the year, but only those who are in favour with the fairies are able to see this.

Halloween is a holiday rich in history, mythology, and good old spooky tales. Newspapers can help illuminate its history and development over the years. What other Halloween traditions can you uncover in our newspapers? Perhaps you’ll discover how Halloween has been celebrated in your own town!


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