Watch our apprentice ghoulies and ghosties as they set about their job of frightening the pants of unsuspecting adults... careful now... they may well be coming to a street near you!... or alternatively... just The Groveway, Stockwell Park Road, The Crescent and anywhere where they can smell TREATS!!!

 

Halloween, one of the world's oldest holidays, is still celebrated today in several countries around the globe... and in deepest darkest South London the stirrings can be heard, the rumblings can be felt and the screams ring out of ... The Community Trust Children's Centre!¬†  

The Community Trust†invited a bunch of† monsters and parents to terrorize the estate with their screeching and squalling and on 31st October 2009 they turned out to howl and horrify their neighbours†and any passerby daft enough to get involved!

The word itself, "Halloween," actually has its origins in the Catholic Church. It comes from a contracted corruption of All Hallows Eve. November 1, "All Hollows Day" (or "All Saints Day"), is a Catholic day of observance in honor of saints. We have to report there was a lack of saintly behaviour observed around the Centre...but a moanin' and a groanin' heard by all in the Square around the playground.

 

Trick or Treat?

The Druids believed that the dead would play tricks on mankind and cause panic and destruction. They had to be appeased, so country folk would give the Druids food as they visited their homes. This is very similar to the way the residents have to appease the children on Stockwell Park...we feed them...on just this one day of the year. The rest of the year we are keen to keep them locked away from the rest of society... so on the 31st October they are allowed to crawl out for just a few hours to roam and groan around the area and feed on unsuspecting Jaffa cakes.

 

Did You Know...?

A traditional food eaten on Halloween is barnbrack, a kind of fruitcake that can be bought in stores or baked at home. The muslin-wrapped treat is baked inside the cake that, it is said, can foretell the eater's future. If a ring is found, it means that the person will soon be wed; a piece of straw means that a prosperous year is on its way. The kids of the estate are not so keen on the eating of straw scenario... they prefer the eating of apples after immersing their faces in a bucket of water... Vitamin C and a good face wash all-in-one... Just can't beat it!

When the Celts were absorbed by the Roman Empire, many rituals of Roman origin began. Among them was the worship of Pomona, goddess of the harvest - often portrayed sitting on a basket of fruits and flowers. Obviously the Community Trust discourages the sitting on fruit and flowers as it does tend to stain the clothing and spoil the fruit. Apples were the sacred fruit of the goddess and around this time of year Rennie Rhooms (a local resident) electrifies his garden gate to keep those pesky apple snitchers away!

 

The Witch's Broomstick

The witch is a central symbol of Halloween. The name comes from the Saxon wica, meaning "wise one". When setting out for a Sabbath, witches rubbed a sacred ointment onto their skin. This gave them a feeling of flying, and if they had been fasting they felt even giddier. Some witches rode on horseback, but poor witches went on foot and carried a broom or a pole to aid in vaulting over streams. In England when new witches were initiated they were often blindfolded, smeared with flying ointment and placed on a broomstick. The ointment would confuse the mind, speed up the pulse and numb the feet. When they were told "You are flying over land and sea," the witch took their word for it. Seems they might have been dealing with some rather unscrupulous suppliers of ointment... always check that you are dealing with a reputable ointment supplier otherwise you may be disappointed by the lack of flying! Getting high enough to fly has been an ambition of many over the years and these days our kids tend to be earth bound and the old custom of chucking the young witches off the roofs has been stopped on Stockwell Park. The Health and Safety overlords thought it might endanger the local wildlife who didn't see them coming and the suppliers of the flying ointment had obviously bought a duff supply and parents recaptured the broomsticks for their own nefarious doings... like ... eh... sweeping up! 

 

Jack-O-Lanterns

Irish children used to carve out potatoes or turnips and light them for their Halloween gatherings. They commemorated Jack, a shifty Irish villain so wicked that neither God nor the Devil wanted him. Rejected by both the sacred and profane, he wandered the world endlessly looking for a place to rest, his only warmth a glittering candle in a rotten turnip. Jack is currently on the waiting list for a flat on Stockwell Park Estate.  We welcome all comers and one rotten turnip is better than none!

 

Interesting Fact

The Irish Potato Famine (1845-50) prompted over 700,000 people to immigrate to the Americas. These immigrants brought with them their traditions of Halloween and Jack o'Lanterns, but turnips were not as readily available as back home. This was cited as one of the main reasons for the emigration as people were sick and tired of turnips. They found the American pumpkin to be a more than adequate replacement and considerably larger.  This was one of the first instances of supersizing... a game still prevelant among many Americans today!

 

Halloween Masquerade Mask

From earliest times people wore masks when droughts or other disasters struck. They believed that the demons who had brought their misfortune upon them would become frightened off by the hideous masks. Food was stored in preparation for the winter and the house was snug and warm. The cold, envious ghosts were left outside, and people who went out after dark often wore masks to keep from being recognised... that was the excuse anyway! The Community Trust has a track record of warming up the ghosts with a small shot of brandy and find that this tends to keep their envy at bay.

 

Pumpkin Facts

In 1584, after French explorer Jacques Cartier explored the St. Lawrence region of North America, he reported finding "gros melons." The name was translated into English as "pompions," which has since evolved into the modern "pumpkin."  The kids of the Community Trust know that this means Big Melons but understand that some people would just giggle if they had to go and ask if the grocer had big melons.  Our kids tend to use sign language to buy their pumpkins to avoid any embarrassment.