United Kingdom Halloween Traditions

When it comes to Halloween in the United Kingdom, there are numerous celebratory measures that are taken to embrace the holiday. Fancy parties are commonly held during the Halloween season, as well as special events throughout their nightlife. Some cities in the United Kingdom hold a festival called Mischief Night, which is observed during the 4th of November.


Where October 31st is seen as the day of Halloween throughout the United States, the United Kingdom has celebrated the holiday on a variety of days in the year. For example, in 835, Halloween celebrations were been observed on the 1st of Halloween. The celebration of All Souls Day was held on November 2nd
throughout the year. During this event, families gathered with one another and passed small cakes around to each other. These treats were called “soul cakes.”


As the clock stroke midnight, family members were silent and placed candles all around each room in the house. This was meant to aid souls that were in need of guidance back to their homes on earth. On the table, a glass of wine is out, which is meant to quench the thirst of the spirits. These traditions seemed to continue throughout the northern parts of England during the 30s. Later in years, children began moving from door-to-door to collect cakes or money. They would sing a song to whoever opened the door. This process was referred to as “souling.”


By the time the English Reformation passed through the 16th century, observances that were regarded as holy, such as All Hallows Day were viewed with less recognition. But, as the 17th century saw the popularity of Guy Fawkes Night celebrations, a reemergence of popular Halloween traditions was seen. This included the building of bonfires. It was then that the celebration became noted on the 5th of November. The biggest boost in Halloween celebrations was seen during the 1980s. This is when American travelers to London brought back the celebrations. This is also when trick-or-treating, as well as the carving of pumpkin faces began to become more recognized throughout the country.


Today, both adults and children in the United Kingdom celebrate Halloween. Fancy parties or special events are held throughout the neighborhood bars and clubs. While carefully avoiding the unlucky black cat, patrons maneuver about the streets looking for a good time. Did you know that white cats were considered good luck in this case?
  In Scotland, Halloween events involve children going about the land, dressed up and offering entertainment for the exchange of gifts.


In Yorkshire, a Mischief Night festival is held, which is observed on November 4th. Some of the traditions associated with this event include tricks that children perform on the adults in their lives. Some pranks are quite harmless, while others are more drastic. It is not uncommon to see some of these tricks borderlining vandalism or criminal mischief.


Throughout the United Kingdom, pumpkins are used for carving canvases, which are placed in the windows of their homes. In English households, a witch ball may be hung by the windows, as well as at the front or back door of a home. This is an entertaining gag, which is said to glow if a witch comes close to it. Additional Halloween traditions in England include bobbing for apples, apple ducking, fireworks, game playing, and the exchange of apple tarts with coins baked inside.