Samhain, Halloween: Hygge the Festivals of Winter (Part 1).

Hallowe’en is coming.. and this year, like so much else, will be changed by a global pandemic that has meant many things we just took for granted just can’t happen, or can’t happen in the usual way. If Hallowe’en for you has been about dressing up and traipsing around local houses collecting sweets, or going to local Haunted Houses and walking through cobwebs in hopes of a good jump scare… well, they’re both off the menu, aren’t they?

Large Bonfire night displays, likewise, have been cancelled already in many cities and towns and in many parts of the UK, Tier 2 or 3 restrictions mean mixing of households won’t be possible.

So what can we do about it? Hygge the events, of course! Here are some weird, but fun, things to plan. Some are strictly in-house: others can be shared with family and friends, even if only virtually. This time, I’m covering Hallowe’en alone.

Go Old School: Play Apple Games at Home.

Go Bobbing for apples in a large washing up bowl or baby bath. Have plenty of towels, and make sure the apples you use are small enough for younger children… unless everyone involved is an adult, in which case use the biggest ones you can find and laugh at the effort!

Tie apples onto string suspended across the room and try that instead, if you don’t like the idea of so much water being spilled.

Peel an apple in one continuous strip and have fun throwing the peel over your shoulder to see the initial of your one true love. This probably works best for unattached young adults, but watching people struggle to peel in a continuous strip can be fun.

Decorate Your Home and Family Anyway:

Who cares if trick or treating is cancelled, and nobody will see your porch, living room or hallway? Decorate for Halloween anyway, remembering to keep floaty fabric or plastic cobwebs away from anything resembling a real flame and also that what goes up must come down.

Use your hygge lighting to great effect by keeping the lighting low, and letting candles do the hard work if you haven’t got little ones running around. There’s something about a stuttering candle that make schills climb up your spine….

And decorate the outside of the house, of course. I find even just an autumnal wreath adds a seasonal note, but pumpkins are cheap in the shops at the moment and make a bright display.

Share the Pleasures with the Neighbourhood:

If you belong to a community group, school, organisation or other that celebrates Halloween (and I am well aware that some churches choose not to) then you still just about have enough time to push for them to have a Pumpkin Parade. Encourage everyone to decorate their porch with pumkpins, place a pumpkin in their windows or otherwise display a pumpkin in 3d or 2d version on the outside of their house and then get children and parents to walk around and spot them.

If you’re quick enough, you could send a letter or a numbered letter to a group of volunteers that could spell out a message ‘Happy Halloween from us all’ or ‘Hands Face Space’ if you’re feeling topical. It’s your decision whether to make the collection hard or easy, and whether you want to post on, say, a local message board and open it to the wider community.

I know the church I attend is holding a pumpkin hunt this year, in place of their usual light parties which they usually hold on Halloween. They are encouraging children dressed in bright or superhero clothes and looking for pumpkins carved with non-scary images to do this instead of trick or treating. Given that trick or treating can be scarey for children and adults alike when the teenagers take over, this isn’t a abd idea for anyone. I’m hoping the local coven and the local chapel don’t meet….

Share the Horror:

Get made up, paint your faces and then call your nearest and dearest on a spooky zoom call! If you turn off most of the lights and use a bright desk lamp or torch held under your chin, it gives a wonderfully spooky look to even the cutest person and is ideal for my next suggestion….

Have a Zoom Horror Story on the go. If you have a few friends who are on for it, then start off a story in one house and work your way around in a modern day version of campfire story telling. Someone starts off with the setting of the story and tells it until an exciting point… when they pass it on to another group. Or, if you know that you have the modern day equivalent of The Man In Black then get just one person to tell a story that will chill and haunt you….

Use TV wisely to create your ideal atmosphere.

With families or young children, keep it light and happy. Watch Hocus Pocus or Hotel Transylvania, eat popcorn and drink orangeade from bottles decorated with pumkin faces. I’d say watch It’s The Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown, but it seems to have disappeared this year, the year we need it most.

If you’re a family of teenagers, or young adults, then go to town on the TV-filled horror. Decide whether you’re a family that loves gore (Halloween, I’m looking at you) Witchcraft (The Craft, or Bell Book and Candle, oldie but goldie) or spine tingling chills (my personal favourites: The Others or The Village, especially if the plot twists are new to them) and remember… Halloween is a Saturday this year, so late nights are definitely encouraged….

Keeping the Festival Sacred:

For pagans, Samhain is a festival that marks the point between Autumn’s equinox and Winter’s solstice. It’s the end of harvest and the start of winter, and a time to remember the ancestors. Indeed, this act of remembrance proved so strong that it was taken over by the Christians, who adopted the start of November as their own days to remember all the saints that had gone before and the departed family members in All Saints’ Day and All Souls’ Day (1st and 2nd November).

Whether you have a faith or none, it can be a very consoling action to remember those we love who have passed on, and this year will have extra significance for people who have lost loved ones in the pandemic. You can decide whether to just remember those who have passed since last October, or whether you want to remember your ancestors throughout history.

I like the idea of honouring all my ancestors. I know I am in part a product of all their stories, and taking the time to reflect on them, and to share them with my own offspring is a valuable task. It’s too easy for family stories to fade and die away, especially in the days when we let the TV take over storytelling. Honouring them is as simple as setting up a photograph, if you have one, or drawing a picture that you feel links you to them. Light a candle, sit in silence, contemplate the role your DNA played in the past, and how that has influenced you in the present.

Taking the chance to phone up any older family members and collecting their memories to pass on is also a great activity to do now. Ask them about their childhood memories, take notes and write them out to create a memory book, or buy a ready made memory book to fill in together. My mother grew up immediately post-war, so her memories of childhood really are from a different world.

Celebrate Inside or Outside, with Fire and Ash.

My own Halloween celebrations have to involve fire. My love for my firepit has been mentioned before, but I really do love lighting a fire and spending time, well-wrapped up, of course, just watching the flames and warming myself in front of them.

I will take the chance, while we’ve got a fire going, to mentally get rid of stuff that bothers me. I am going to take a few hours between now and then to write down the issues that have played on my mind this year, worries that I’ve spent time over, words that were better left unsaid and other concerns that might have or may still be making me feel less happy than I want to be. I’ll write them down, seal them up and set them free on the fire. Time spent watching flames is never time wasted, so this would be a lovely way to end a Halloween spent quietly. And if it rains, I’ll be inside with a lit candle and doing the same, but on a smaller scale.

There you have it, my covid safe Halloween ideas. I’ll see if I can capture some Bonfire Night ones for next week.

If you’d like to support me….

I don’t monetise my blog. I don’t run adverts, take sponsorship for writing posts or use affiliate links. I want everything I do on this blog and in my hygge life outside to be truthful. If I promote a book it’s because I’ve read it and like it, if I point out an item it’s because it’s impressed me on its own merits and not because the publicist has talked me into it. It does mean I don’t run giveaways and I’m not chasing followers, but the drawback is that I need to find a way to support myself.

That’s why I write books. My thoughts are that if I ask you to buy a book not only does it support me, and let me keep writing as an independent writer, but you get something back for your bucks. I’ve written several books, some on Hygge, some on Christmas. If you like what you read here, or in the Hygge Nook, and you’d like to support a struggling writer, would you please consider buying a book? E-books give you the best value, since for 2 or 3 pounds you get the whole content of the book without paying the extra for paper production, but I’d be a pretty poor writer if I didn’t appreciate the beauty of a real book in the hand. If you buy even just one book, it all adds up in the end to support me, and I’d be so grateful.

My latest book, Celebrating a Contagious Christmas, is available on Amazon now as an ebook and, by popular demand, a paperback. It’s about the adjustments we’ll have to make to our usual Christmas celebrations if we’re in Lockdown come December, how illness or employment may make a difference and how we have to spread hope, not germs, in an attempt to keep the world on an even keel.

 Cosy Happy Hygge is available as an ebook or a paperback on Amazon now. It’s about using rhythm and ritual to make your life a gentler, kinder place. Writing it has been an important part of my mental health recovery.

Cosy Happy Hygge

My first three books are hygge related, 50 Ways to Hygge the British Way  was my first book, and is available in Paperback and Kindle version. It’s a simple look at ways to feel more hyggely in life and at home even though we’re not Danish and don’t have it in our DNA. Although it was inspired by the blog, it’s completely original work and not collected blogposts. It will probably be updated and an improved second edition coming in Spring 2021.

How to Hygge Your Summer, in Paperback and Kindle form, has lots of good ideas for the summer months. I strongly believe that hygge is so much more than throws and warm drinks.

Happier is my fourth book. It’s about how I boost my own happiness levels. It’s full of hints, tips and ideas for you to use and adapt to suit your own situation. It is available in ebook and paperback version from Amazon.co.uk and Amazon.com.

I have three Christmas books,

Have Yourself a Happy Hygge Christmas was released in September 2017 and is available again in paperback and ebook version. It looks at keeping the Christmas season warm and cosy, with ideas for activities and routines to keep Christmas happy.

3-Have Yourself A Happy Hygge Christmas

A (Hygge) Christmas Carol is my look at Dickens’ immortal classic and the many lessons we still learn from it today. It contains the full text of the book as well as hyggely thoughts on the story.

Enjoying a Self Care Christmas is only available in e-book version. It’s about keeping Christmas simple enough and healthy enough to keep you sane in the process. I’m hoping to do a series of Self Care through the year books.

If you already have my books, or just want to support me as an independent writer, you can always just send me the price of a cup of coffee as a friend, to paypal.me/HyggeJem . I tend to use a lot (all) of my spare cash on books that I review for the website, so every penny donated goes towards building my happy hygge life.

If you buy any of the books or some of the items through the links on this page, I get a couple of extra pence per copy, as an Amazon Affiliate, in Amazon vouchers which go towards buying more books to review for the blog. I’d really love it if you’d support me monetarily, but I quite understand that cash is tight for many people, and I just love having your support via reading and commenting as well.

Truthfully, I’ll probably never make a living as a writer, but I do make a little extra income that gets ploughed back into books and magazines. One obsession feeds the other.

2 thoughts on “Samhain, Halloween: Hygge the Festivals of Winter (Part 1).

  1. I loved reading this post, thank you! I definitely think of Hallowe’en as a time to connect with my ancestors, there’s something about those dark nights and even the smell of this time of year that makes you feel as if the gap between this world and the next isn’t so very big at all xx

    Liked by 1 person

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