Edinburgh Napier University

Tag: Ghosts

A History of Halloween

A History of Halloween

Origins of Halloween

The origins of Halloween can be traced back to the ancient Celtic festival of Samhain. Celebrated from around 2,000 years ago. Samhain is a festival marking the end of the harvest season and the beginning of winter. It is a time when the boundary between the living and the dead is believed to be at its thinnest. Celts would light bonfires and wear costumes to ward off ghosts and other malevolent spirits that were thought to roam the earth during this time. The festival was an opportunity to honour ancestors and seek their guidance for the coming year.

With the spread of Christianity, the festival of Samhain was gradually incorporated into Christian traditions. In the 8th century, Pope Gregory III designated November 1st as All Saints’ Day, a day to honour saints and martyrs. This was followed by All Souls’ Day on November 2, a day to pray for the souls of the deceased. The Christian influence on Halloween led to the practice of trick-or-treating, which originated from the medieval practice of “souling,”. Where poor people would go door-to-door on All Souls’ Day, offering prayers for the dead in exchange for food.

Despite the Christian influence, many pagan traditions and beliefs associated with Samhain continued to be practised, particularly in Ireland and Scotland. Halloween was brought to the United States by Irish and Scottish immigrants in the 19th century. Today, Halloween is a popular holiday celebrated in many countries around the world, with various customs and traditions that reflect its diverse origins. The holiday has become a time for dressing up in costumes, carving pumpkins, and indulging in sweet treats.

Halloween Traditions

The holiday as it is celebrated in the West today has its own unique traditions that have developed over time. Celebrations often feature bobbing for apples, trick-or-treating, making Jack-o’-Lanterns, wearing spooky costumesΒ  and telling scary stories

While some of these traditions have their roots in ancient practices, others have been adapted and evolved over time. For example, the tradition of bobbing for apples can be traced back to a Roman festival honouring Pomona, the goddess of agriculture and abundance. Similarly, the practice of carving pumpkins into Jack-o’-Lanterns has evolved from the original practice of carving turnips and other root vegetables. Personally, I would avoid trying to carve a turnip as it’s nearly impossible and takes forever!

Halloween Celebrations Around the World

Dia de los Muertos

Dia de los Muertos, or Day of the Dead, is a Mexican holiday that takes place on November 1st and 2nd. This festival is a time for families to remember and celebrate their loved ones who have passed away. It is believed that on these days, the souls of the departed return to the world of the living to be with their families. The holiday is marked by colourful parades, elaborate costumes, and offerings of food and drink for the deceased. While often compared to Halloween, Dia de los Muertos has its own unique traditions and cultural significance.

Guy Fawkes Night

Guy Fawkes Night, also known as Bonfire Night or Fireworks Night, is a British holiday that takes place on November 5th. You can read all about it in our article here. This holiday commemorates the failed attempt by Guy Fawkes and his associates to blow up the Houses of Parliament in 1605. The holiday is marked by bonfires, fireworks displays, and the burning of effigies of Guy Fawkes. While not directly related to Halloween, the holiday shares some similarities in terms of its focus on fire and celebration.

World Festivals

Halloween-like festivals are found in many other countries around the world. Furthermore, each has its own unique traditions and cultural significance. In Romania, for example, the Day of Dracula is celebrated on Halloween. It involves costume parties and reenactments of scenes from Bram Stoker’s Dracula. In Hong Kong, the Hungry Ghost Festival takes place in August and September. It involves offerings of food and drink to appease the spirits of the dead. While these festivals may share some similarities with Halloween, they are distinct celebrations that reflect the unique cultural traditions of their respective countries.

Want to learn more about spooky history? Why not check out our resources on Librarysearch.napier.ac.uk

By Juliet Kinsey

Image: Photo by David Menidrey on Unsplash

Continue reading

Ghost Stories: A spooky tale of haunted Campuses

Creepy Campuses

Craiglockhart:

Many old buildings have ghost stories associated with them and Edinburgh Napier campuses are no exception. Of course, no one can prove if the sightings are genuine, but here are a few of the stories we have heard from staff….

From 1920 until 1986 Craiglockhart campus used to be a training college for Catholic teachers run by nuns. There have been many reports of a nun being seen around the old part of the campus and in the library which used to be a swimming pool. Apparently, she has been seen walking through a wall near the Rivers Suite and a joiner saw her on one of the upper floors. Many staff members claim to have had a feeling that someone is behind them when they are walking around the old building.

Cleaners say that taps in the toilets along from the library mysteriously switch themselves on and one of them has often spotted an old woman walking along the corridor towards the Hydra cafΓ© early in the mornings before the campus is open for general access.

One morning library staff came in to find a bookshelf that had been hammered into place had been tipped up at one end and the books were in a heap on the floor. On another occasion, an interior glass panel was completely smashed when staff arrived for work. The panel had been intact when security had closed the campus the previous evening. When shelving books one evening a member of staff heard a thud behind them. A large book that had been lying flat on a shelf and not overhanging had mysteriously landed on the floor.

Craighouse

Our former campus at Craighouse is now a housing development, but it used to be the home of Edinburgh Napier from 1996 to 2011. It was built as a private residence around 1565. In the 1880s it was described as “a weird-looking mansion, alleged to be ghost-haunted” in Cassell’s Old and New Edinburgh. It was a psychiatric hospital from then until the early 1990s when it was sold to Edinburgh Napier. Some of the staff who used to work there claim to have smelled cigar smoke although smoking was prohibited in the building. There were also reports of a piano being played and a baby crying in an attic room. Cleaning staff caught a glimpse of a man wearing a long leather coat with slicked back long hair in the toilets. Furthermore, there were also rumours of underground tunnels leading from secret entrances.

Sighthill

Not to be outdone by Craiglockhart, Sighthill briefly had its own ghost in 2018

Click on the following link to view the full video:

https://twitter.com/i/status/1057546465587924992

We wish you all a Happy Halloween and hope we haven’t spooked you!

Have any ghost stories of your own? Share them in the comments or tag us through social media with Twitter: @ednaplib or Instagram @ENULibrary

By Vivienne Hamilton

© 2024 The Library Blog

Theme by Anders NorΓ©nUp ↑