The origins of Hallowe'en celebrations are a little unclear. Certainly, it is the eve of All Hallows or All Saints Day, a major Catholic festival. It is also the eve of a pagan Celtic festival of the dead, a time when spirits were thought to walk the earth. In rural communities, long before the industrialisation of Britain destroyed many of the old traditions, the end of autumn and the first day of winter - 1 November - was a cause for celebration.

In Wales 1 November, the first day of winter, was called Calan Gaeaf. The night before - the eve of the day - was referred to as Nos Galan Gaeaf or, occasionally Spirit Night. And many traditions gradually grew up around the festival. Almost inevitably, they were connected with all things frightening or disconcerting.

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