Halloween in United Kingdom

Quick Facts

Halloween is a holiday celebrated at the end of October by holding parties, dressing up and going 'trick-or-treating'.

Name

Halloween

Alternative name

Hallowe'en

Halloween 2014

Friday, October 31, 2014

Halloween 2015

Saturday, October 31, 2015
List of dates for other years

Halloween is a holiday annually celebrated on October 31. Some people hold Halloween parties on or around this date, where the hosts and guests often dress up as skeletons, ghosts or other scary figures. Common symbols of Halloween include pumpkins, bats and spiders.

Halloween UK

Witches' hats and carved pumpkins symbolize Halloween.

©iStockphoto.com/Nikolay Suslov

What do people do?

Halloween celebrations in the United Kingdom include parties where guests are often expected to arrive in a costume to reflect the day's theme. Other people gather together to watch horror films, either at home or at a cinema.

Some children go trick-or-treating. This means that they dress up and go to other peoples' houses, knocking on the door for treat of sweets or a snack. Those who do not give out a treat may be tricked with a joke instead.

Halloween has its origins in pagan festivals in England, Scotland, Wales and Ireland. Many stores and businesses see Halloween as a chance to promote products with a Halloween theme.

Public life

Halloween is not a bank holiday in the United Kingdom. Schools, businesses, stores and other organizations are open as usual. Public transport services run on their normal timetables.

Background

Halloween has its origins in pagan festivals held around the end of October in England, Wales, Scotland and Ireland. People believed that, at this time of year, the spirits of dead people could come 'alive' and walk among the living. They thought that it was important to dress up in costumes when venturing outside, to avoid being harmed by the spirits. This may be the origin of the Halloween costumes seen today. In Puritan times, Halloween celebrations were outlawed, but they were revived in later times.

Halloween used to be called All Hallows Eve, or the day before All Saints' Day, observed on November 1. Halloween is also known as Nut-crack Night, Thump-the-door Night or Apple and Candle Night. Some people call Halloween Bob Apple Night or Duck Apple Night. This comes from a traditional game played at this time of year and known as 'apple bobbing' or 'apple ducking'. A bucket or other container is filled with water and one or more apples are floated on the water. The contestants take turns trying to catch an apple with their teeth. They must hold their hands behind their backs at all times.

Some people believe that apple bobbing is a reminder of the way women accused of witchcraft in the middle ages were tried. They were tied to a chair and repeatedly ducked into a river or pond. If a woman drowned, she was declared innocent. If she survived, she was declared a witch and burnt at the stake. Others think that apple bobbing is a way for young people to predict who they will marry or whether their partner is faithful.

Some aspects of the modern Halloween celebrations, such as carving lanterns out of vegetables originated long ago. Others were introduced more recently, often as a form of commercial promotion. Many customs originated in the United States and have travelled back to the United Kingdom.

Symbols

There are various symbols are associated with Halloween. The colors orange and black are very common. Other symbols include pumpkin lanterns, witches, wizards, ghosts, spirits and characters from horror films. Animals associated with the festival include bats, spiders and black cats.

About Halloween in other countries

Read more about Halloween.

Halloween Observances

WeekdayDateYearNameHoliday typeWhere it is observed
WedOct 311990HalloweenObservance 
ThuOct 311991HalloweenObservance 
SatOct 311992HalloweenObservance 
SunOct 311993HalloweenObservance 
MonOct 311994HalloweenObservance 
TueOct 311995HalloweenObservance 
ThuOct 311996HalloweenObservance 
FriOct 311997HalloweenObservance 
SatOct 311998HalloweenObservance 
SunOct 311999HalloweenObservance 
TueOct 312000HalloweenObservance 
WedOct 312001HalloweenObservance 
ThuOct 312002HalloweenObservance 
FriOct 312003HalloweenObservance 
SunOct 312004HalloweenObservance 
MonOct 312005HalloweenObservance 
TueOct 312006HalloweenObservance 
WedOct 312007HalloweenObservance 
FriOct 312008HalloweenObservance 
SatOct 312009HalloweenObservance 
SunOct 312010HalloweenObservance 
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WedOct 312012HalloweenObservance 
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FriOct 312014HalloweenObservance 
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MonOct 312016HalloweenObservance 
TueOct 312017HalloweenObservance 
WedOct 312018HalloweenObservance 
ThuOct 312019HalloweenObservance 
SatOct 312020HalloweenObservance 

Related holidays

Other holidays in October 2014 in United Kingdom

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