EP18 The History of Halloween
From ancient Celtic festivals to modern-day America, this concise journey through the dark past of the spookiest day of the year takes a look at such questions as:
- Where did Halloween originate?
- What vital role did Christianity play in things?
- How did America put its own stamp on the holiday?
- Why do we carve pumpkins on October 31st?
- Does trick-or-treating have its roots in praying for the souls of the dead?
- What does the Welsh harvest festival Nos Calan Gaeaf have to do with Halloween?
- And the big question on everyone’s lips… how did American housewives host the perfect Halloween party at the turn of the 20th century?
All this and more will be explored in this Halloween special of the Ghosts & Folklore of Wales with Mark Rees podcast!
History of Halloween in Wales: 5 special episodes
While this episode takes a look at the bigger picture of how Halloween is celebrated around the world as well as Wales, subsequent episodes will look more closely at Nos Calan Gaeaf and such traditions as Jack y Lantern, the Welsh jack-o’-lantern, and the dreaded supernatural ghosts and goblins which were abroad ahead of the first day of winter.
For a full list of episodes check out the Halloween Specials podcast page.
What is Nos Calan Gaeaf?
In Celtic times, each day began at sunset.
October 31 – Nos Calan Gaeaf in Welsh, the night before Calan Gaeaf – marked the beginning of winter, and while it was a time for celebration, it was also a time of great foreboding and apprehension.
For more about Nos Calan Gaeaf, be sure to subscribe to the Ghosts & Folklore podcast which will be focusing on the festival all through October, and check out the book The A-Z of Curious Wales for lots more weird and wonderful facts.
Did you catch last week’s episode of the Ghosts & Folklore of Wales podcast?
Did you miss last week’s episode? Catch up now: EP17 The Devil’s Bridge: The famous folk tale of how a wise old Welsh woman beat Satan at his own game.
For a full list of every episode, from the Mari Lwyd to the Mabinogion, and to subscribe, please visit the podcast page.
Read more about Nos Calan Gaeaf and other Welsh curiosities
Published by The History Press, here’s the blurb:
Wales’ history is packed with peculiar customs and curious characters. Here you will discover alien landscapes, ancient druids and a Victorian ghost hunter.
Find out why revellers would carry a decorated horse’s skull on a pole door to door at Christmastime, how an eccentric inventor hoped to defeat Hitler with his futuristic ray gun, and why a cursed wall is protected by a global corporation for fear it might destroy a town.
From the folklore surrounding the red dragon on the flag, to the evolution of the song ‘Sosban Fach’, this compendium of weird and wonderful facts will surprise and delight even the most knowledgeable resident or visitor.
It is available from all good bookshops and online from the books page.