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Things That Go Bump In The Night & other scary stuff!


My first physical manifestation of anything other worldly happened when I was chatting to my friend, late in the evening after work. We were in our first year of nurse training and were living in the nurses accommodation at Torbay hospital. She was recalling being a small child when she woke up to see a woman standing watching her at the end of the bed. We were speculating that this was probably her grandmother and even though it was a bit scary at the time, she was almost certainly just checking up on her. All of a sudden she jumped out of her skin! When I asked her what was the matter, she said that she had just felt someone stroke the back of her head! Nothing else happened like this during our training but there would be tales of haunted wards around halloween on night duty!


Halloween is widely thought of as having taken its name from a derivative of All Hallows Eve, hallow meaning saint. This was originally in May, however was moved in the 7th century by the Pope to its present time of November the 1st. All Hallows Eve marks a time in the christian calendar when it is customary to remember the dead (including saints and martyrs). Originally, people dressed up as saints, (some think as a disguise against ghosts) and went door to door. They were often given saints biscuits. This is now thought to be the origins of trick or treat. Later on, other traditions crept in which were less religious such as bobbing for apples and using mirrors to see the future. Halloween is thought to have originated with the ancient Celtic festival of Samhain. This celebrated a time of seasonal changes and may have also been a time when our ancestors thought that the boundaries between the seen and the unseen worlds became less, so enabling them to communicate with the deceased.

Sugar skulls

Over time, Halloween has also been associated with fear and mischief. Contrast this with the Day of the Dead, celebrated throughout South American cultures, where the mood is life affirming and joyous. It celebrates life with respectful attention to loved ones who are deceased. It is thought to originate from ancient south American beliefs where mourning the dead was thought of as disrespectful as death was seen as a continuum of life. Those that had died were considered to be members of the community. In our time, on this day (November 1st / 2nd) the dead temporarily return to the earth. This is seen as a celebratory time and there are a wide range of festivities and customs merging many traditions.

The principal difference between Halloween and Day of the Dead are expectations. In one, we expect to have a good time whilst in the other, we would not be surprised if things didn’t go so well. So what should you do if you see a ghost? Maybe have a think about why it’s there, wish it well and ask the upstairs crew to help the spirit if it needs it.

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© Collette Stubbs 2021, all rights reserved


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