Halloween is celebrated annually on October 31st. The origins of Halloween are thought to be based on an ancient Celtic festival called Samhain, which was celebrated in Britain, Ireland and some parts of northern Europe. This was a tradition whereby at the end of summer, the Celts thought that the barrier between our world and the world of ghosts and spirits was not very strong, so people would light bonfires and wear costumes to ward them off.
It wasn’t until much later that the festival was Christianised by the church and named ‘All Hallows’ Eve’ (the day before All Saints’ Day on 1 November) and then later this became Hallowe’en or Halloween.
Over the years the festival has of course gathered pace in how it is celebrated and now we recognise Halloween with pumpkin carving, dressing up and ‘trick or treating’ – it’s much more of a party for everyone!
So, if you are hosting a Halloween party this year, for children and/or adults, here are a couple of fun spooky punch ideas to get the party started (both are non-alcoholic recipes but have the option of adding alcohol for the adults!).
- 2 litres of cherry juice
- peel from 3 orangespared with a vegetable peeler
- 1 thumb-sized red chilli, pierced a few times but left whole
- 3 cinnamon sticks
- 10 cloves
- 6 slices of fresh ginger
- To make the punch alcoholic just add 200ml vodka, or 25ml per glass
- Tip the cherry juice, orange peel, chilli, cinnamon sticks, cloves and ginger into a large saucepan. Simmer for 5 mins, then turn off the heat. Leave to cool, then chill for at least 4 hrs, or up to 2 days (the longer you leave it the more intense the flavours). If serving to young children, take the chilli out after a few hours.
- When you’re ready to serve, pour the juice into a jug. Serve in glass bottles or glasses with a Halloween themed straw. If you’re adding vodka, you can do so at this stage. Decorate each glass with a spooky sweet such as fangs.
OR try this blood-red punch which is perfect for any Halloween party and you can just add gin or vodka for a grown-up version…
- 500ml/18floz cranberry juice
- 5 litres/2½ pints lemonade
- 3 limes, juice only
- large handful of jelly worms or similar
- Pour all of the ingredients into a large glass bowl and mix until well combined.
- Drape the jelly worms over the edge of the bowl.
To add an extra spooky accessory to your punchbowl centre piece, rinse out a rubber glove, turn it inside out and fill with water. Tie the top with an elastic band and freeze until solid. Turn the frozen ‘hand’ out into the punch bowl and serve!
….for another great spooky touch to your drinks, make some ‘Bat-black ice cubes’! Add black food dye to a jug of water and pour into ice-cube trays to make hauntingly black ice cubes.
And finally, for a bit of trivia and fun, test your guests’ knowledge of all things Halloween with this quiz – suitable for all ages (the answers are at the end, so no cheating!):
- By what name is midnight also known?
- Count Dracula is based on a real person from history—what was his name?
- Halloween was first celebrated by who?
- Lambs’ wool was once a popular Halloween drink made of milk and crushed, roasted what?
- List the signs that someone’s a werewolf.
- Name Anne Rice’s famous blond, French vampire.
- Name the country over which Vlad Dracula once ruled, which still considers him a national hero.
- On which date does Halloween fall?
- Shakespeare’s three witches from Macbeth were also known as what?
- Some people claim to be real vampires: true or false?
- The Celts believed that the lord of the dead travelled the earth on Halloween. What was his name?
- What do pumpkins grow on—stalks, trees, vines or bushes?
- What does the old English word “Hallow” mean?
- What is a group of witches called?
- What is the other, traditional name for a broomstick?
- What is the title of a witch’s pet cat or toad?
- What is the traditional name for a pumpkin with a face carved into it, when it is illuminated from within by a candle?
- What is the traditional name for Herne the Hunter’s shrieking band of witches, goblins and ghosts who ride through the skies on Halloween?
- What is the word ‘Hallowe’en’ an abbreviation of?
- What was Dr. Frankenstein’s first name?
- What were Jack O’Lanterns carved from before pumpkins were used?
- What would you traditionally bob for at Halloween parties?
- When were Halloween greetings cards first made—1600s, 1700s, 1800s or 1900s?
- Where did bobbing for apples originate?
- Where do real vampire bats live?
- Which song was a 1973 hit for Bobby “Boris” Pickett and the Crypt-Kickers? (Lyric clue: It was a graveyard smash.)
- Who wrote the novel “Dracula”?
- Who wrote the novel “Frankenstein”?
- Who wrote the novel “The Witching Hour”?
- Why did the tradition of fancy dress for Halloween begin?
- The witching hour
- Vlad Dracula, a prince also nicknamed Vlad Tepes or Vlad the Impaler
- Their eyebrows meet in the middle; they have hairy palms and/or a long middle finger; they turn hairy in the moonlight.
- Lestat de Lioncourt
- October 31st
- The Weird Sisters
- Samana or Herne the Hunter
- A coven
- A besom
- A familiar
- Jack O’ Lantern
- The Wild Hunt
- All Hallow’s Eve
- Ancient Rome
- North and South America
- “Monster Mash”
- Bram Stoker
- Mary Shelley
- Anne Rice
- So that when evil spirits see you, they’ll think you’re one of them and leave you alone.