So Autumn is officially here, and I love October when the days are still bright and often sunny – crisp and chilly as the leaves change colour but still not the dark and damp days that seem to follow when the clocks change, and we move into November. One of the celebrations I have always loved is Halloween, ever since the days when my boys were little and would dress up as various cats, ghosts or monsters to go trick or treating around our neighbours (them getting a treat and me a cheeky glass of wine!)
I love a ‘grown- ups’ Halloween party – an excuse to go crazy with carved pumpkins, cobwebs, ghoulish food and of course fancy dress. You can choose full on skeleton, cat or ghost or go for just a witch’s hat with your little black dress and of course some Halloween themed jewellery to complete your look.
So, what is Halloween all about and why do we celebrate it? I know l love the fancy dress, the pumpkins, the skulls and other symbols of the day but why do we celebrate it?
Origins of Halloween
Halloween is celebrated every year on 31st October and the tradition began with the ancient Celtic festival of Samhain, when people would light bonfires and wear costumes to ward off ghosts.
The day marked the end of the harvest season on 31st October and beginning of winter or "darker-half" of the year, was also a time of year linked with human death. It was a time when some believed the boundaries between the worlds of the living and dead become blurred and that the ghosts of the dead returned to Earth. Some believed the souls of the dead visited their homes and those who died during the year completed their journey to the afterword.
People set bonfires on hilltops for relighting their hearth fires, believing the sacred bonfire would protect their homes over Winter. They often wore masks and other disguises to frighted away evil spirits and also to avoid being recognised by visiting ghosts. It is because of this that we now have the tradition of dressing as witches, ghosts and demons.
In the eighth century, Pope Gregory III designated November 1 as a time to honour all saints, moving it from another date in the year. Soon, All Saints Day incorporated some of the traditions of Samhain and the evening before was known as All Hallows Eve, and later shortened to Halloween. Over time, Halloween evolved into a day of activities like trick or treating, pumpkin lanterns, parties, fancy dress and eating treats.
In America many of the Halloween festivities were forbidden by early colonists with their strict protestant belief system which disapproved of the holiday’s pagan roots. But with customs for different European groups and the huge influx of immigrants, many Irish, in mid-19th century – they took their Halloween traditions with them and influenced the American approach to the celebration.
In the late 1800s, there was a move in America to make Halloween much more light-hearted - more of a family and community get together rather than being about its original traditions surrounding the dead, ghosts and witchcraft. So instead of ‘connecting with the dead’ the focus moved to light-hearted fortune telling, dancing, singing and sharing food. Some of the early celebrations included “play parties,” which were large public parties to celebrate the harvest, where friends and neighbours would share stories of the dead, tell each other’s fortunes, dance and sing.
Apple bobbing was a popular fortune-telling game for Halloween. Apples would be picked to represent all of a woman's suitors, and the apple she managed to bite would represent her future husband. Another popular ritual was mirror-gazing, as people hoped to catch a vision of their future by looking into the mirror.
Borrowing from European traditions, Americans also began to dress up in costumes and go house to house asking for food or money, a practice that eventually became today’s “trick-or-treat” tradition. Trick-or-treating was an inexpensive way for an entire community to share the Halloween celebration.
Children would go door to door asking for ‘soul cakes,’ a treat similar to biscuits. Soul cakes were originally part of the All Souls' Day holiday on November 2 but eventually became a part of Halloween as the concept evolved into trick-or-treating. The candy-crazy concept became mainstream in the U.S. in the early to mid-1900s, when families would provide treats to children in hopes that they would be immune to any holiday pranks.
In the 20th century Halloween became one of the principal U.S. holidays, particularly among children and it has continued to grow. Today, Americans spend an estimated $6 billion annually on Halloween, making it the country’s second largest commercial holiday after Christmas. One quarter of all the candy sold annually in the U.S. is purchased for Halloween. Britain is now following many of the American Halloween traditions including the carving of pumpkins (previously always swedes or turnips) and of course the trick or treat culture. Thanks for that!
So now we know a little more about how it all started it’s time to get that outfit sorted and ‘treat’ yourself to some of our scarily beautiful Halloween jewellery which is also perfect to wear all the year round. We’ve got some fabulous spooky silver jewellery designs; all you need is to be creative and make your accessories work with your chosen look.
Skulls and Skeletons are striking Halloween symbols because they are a stark reminder of death. Skeletons remind us that Halloween has traditionally always been a holiday about the dead.
In Mexico they celebrate the Days of the Dead (Días de los Muertos) on the Christian holidays All Saints’ Day and All Souls’ Day (November 1 and 2) instead of Halloween. The people dress up like skeletons and ghouls and parade down the street and Sugar skull candies are part of this Mexican tradition. We have a wonderful collection of gothic skull jewellery, hand-made in sterling silver and the perfect accessory for any Halloween, Day of the Dead or general gothic celebrations. (Actually, for any occasion where you want to make a jewellery statement!) In particular, I love, love, love our statement silver cuff bangle with intricate detailed skull and flower carved design. Wonderful silver skull pendant too – great worn on a silver chain and stacked with other silver necklaces in the same spooky theme.
So, a silver skull pendant and matching earrings – what could add to your Halloween look better? Simple and to the point this exquisitely designed silver and cubic zirconia pendant and earrings are just wonderful for Halloween and every other day too! Handmade and rhodium plated to prevent tarnishing, they add a little bit of sparkle to you Halloween look but also great with leather boots and a warm autumn jumper. The skull pendant looks fabulous worn on a long silver chain over dark colours to make it really stand out.
Halloween also wouldn’t be Halloween without some snakes, cats and owls too.
Owls are popular Halloween symbols, originally because in medieval times, owls were believed to be witches, and if you heard the call of an owl, it meant that someone was about to die. We have a couple of silver owl pendants, one with a dancing central stone which catching the light and moves as you do.
Black cats are another symbol of the spooky side of Halloween: if a black cat crosses your path, you’ll be cursed with bad luck. In the Middle Ages, many people believed that witches avoided detection by turning themselves into black cats reinforcing the belief that black cats were definitely bad luck. We love cats though, so this is a great piece of jewellery to add to your Halloween look but also you can treasure for it for ever more. One of our silver pendants has two little cats – one micro-set with black cubic zirconia and one with clear stones. Maybe the clear cubic zirconia cat can cancel out the bad luck!
Snakes too are associated with Halloween as they portray immortality and knowledge of the next world. They are often found winding around a bowl of goodies for trick or treaters or incorporated into costumes. Remember Medusa with her hair of snakes? Our hand-made silver snakes cuff bangle will definitely add a touch of darkness to your look but you couldn’t be frightened of our cute little snake earrings and necklace, set with sparkling cubic zirconia and adding just a touch of Halloween to your look. Dainty and cute enough to wear all the year round which gives you the perfect excuse to buy them.
No Halloween tale is complete without a reference to the moon. Whether it’s caught between clouds of fog on a sinister evening or shining bright on a werewolf transformation, the moon is essential to completing the Halloween experience. Luckily, these jewellery pieces are so beautiful that you can wear them anytime. Our Celestial Gold Moon Reflection pendant is just beautiful and our witchy silver crescent moon earrings and pendant are the perfect addition shining out against your black witchy look.
I’ve talked all about Halloween, an event that we love to celebrate at this time of year, but how about some jewellery to just remind us of the glory of nature in Autumn. Leaves and trees with leaves in rich oranges, red and yellows are perfect and we have a selection of silver jewellery designs which help keep you in touch with nature and the changing seasons around us. I love our tree of life inspired silver pendants and our design with beautiful gold or rose gold leaves is perfect for this time of year as is our Celestial Pendant with either a yellow or rose gold plated tree design which is always one of our most popular pieces.
If you prefer just the leaves to the full tree of life then why not take a look at copper and silver leaf earrings, hand-made and a perfect autumn colour. (Our copper and silver windchime earrings would also be a good choice as they look like leaves swirling in the wind as you move) Either pair would make a great jewellery gift for someone who loves Autumn or has an Autumn birthday.
And… don’t think all the fun, celebration and partying ends with Halloween we still have bonfire night (take a look at our sparkling fireworks jewellery designs) and dare I say it in October, but Christmas is just around the corner, but we can leave that for another day…