A Very British Halloween
Halloween is a frightfully fun time of year when playful mischief and ghoulish games are positively encouraged. For that reason, it’s one of our favourite festivals, and we like to celebrate it the only way we know how: with a touch of traditional Bettys Britishness.
Whether you’re hosting a small get-together, want to introduce your family to alternative Halloween traditions, or simply want to add a bit of timelessness and style to this October holiday, a very British Halloween might be just the thing. So what might such spooky festivities look like?
Are you sitting (un)comfortably? Then, we’ll begin.
Dreadfully good decorations
When it comes to making your surroundings more ominous, it’s the little things that make the big difference. Start by dimming the lamps, then light some candles and get the fireplace roaring. For Halloween inspired decorations, we suggest a touch of British vintage.
Dig out some black and white photos, dust off that old retro suitcase (on second thoughts, leave a little dust on), retrieve the inherited taxidermy you’ve never found a use for, fill your room with deep and earthy colours - from velvet throws to hessian table covers - and dress up your house with a Halloween theme that exudes style.
Dig out some black and white photos and dust off that old retro suitcase (on second thoughts, leave a little dust on)
It’s the details that count. Use classic British horror books complete with original covers as centerpieces: Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein and Bram Stoker’s Dracula, that sort of thing. And for those handy in the art of sewing and craft, homemade tapestries and bunting add a lovely, vintage finishing touch.
The tradition of vegetable carving dates back thousands of years. But it was the Irish Samhain Festival that brought about the Jack ‘O Lantern trend in the 19th century, where turnips and mangelwurzels were used, no less. While the pumpkin has since become the favoured vegetable for carving, we like the idea of these old fashioned alternatives as the centrepiece, complete with a little twist on those more obvious, scary-face designs.
Why not opt for elegant and enchanting patterns for your carvings, or perhaps even an inquisitive owl or cat? For something a little more detailed use stencils to depict famous British figures from history. You could even hand-paint frightfully fun scenes and spooky quotes on your pumpkins to tell a ghostly story or two.
Whichever route your crafty imagination takes you, your lanterns are sure to be the talking point of the evening.
Deliciously good food is at the heart of any gathering. Friend or foe this Halloween, be sure to fill up your guests with a very British (and frightfully good) feast.
Spooky Bell Peppers with Sticky Chicken sounds and looks like all the things Halloween should be, and tastes delicious too. With the likes of runny honey, black treacle, Worcestershire sauce, tomato ketchup, Braeburn apples and pears amongst the ingredients, this dish has an undeniably British flavour.
For a quintessentially British pudding to match, a Pear & Ginger Tray Bake makes the ideal choice. Full of warming spice and sweet pears, it’s a flavoursome after-dinner treat everyone will love.
Then there are the refreshments. Boo-berry tea - as we like to call it - made with orange and blackberry juices and a dash of winter spice makes a splendid base for a much-needed hot toddy on All Hallows Eve.
Spellbinding sweets & treats
As you might have guessed, we have a sweet tooth – so the Halloween tradition of sweet treats suits us perfectly. Goodies such as gingerbread men - a medieval English classic - and toffee bramble apples add a traditional touch to a Halloween party. And in preparing your goodies you have the perfect excuse to host your very own Great British Halloween Bake-Off too.
If time isn’t on your side, Bettys are here to help. With traditional Yorkshire Parkin, hand-decorated Milk Chocolate Frogs and a pumpkin-faced Halloween Chocolate Cake amongst our eye-catching Halloween range, our spooky treats are ready to add a little magic to the party.
Oh-so frightful fancy dress
Halloween and fancy dress go hand in hand; ghosts, vampires, monsters, skeletons … the possibilities are endless.
The tradition of ‘guising’ at Halloween dates back to the 1900s, making it a must for a very British Halloween. Old English paganism opens up your wardrobe doors to vintage shawls, wreath head-dresses, faux faur and all the velvet you can handle. Pop culture offers up its own inspiration: the likes of Doctor Who, Sherlock Holmes and even Harry Potter make great choices too.
Don a feather-laden bonnet or top hat, add a pipe, and apply a spot of dust or cobwebs for extra spookiness
For something a little more vintage, Victorian or Georgian costumes convey that eerie look and feel we so often associate with Halloween. That’s brilliant news for Downton Abbey enthusiasts - simply don a feather-laden bonnet or top hat, add a pipe, and apply a spot of dust or cobwebs for extra spookiness.
Last but not least, what’s a celebration or holiday without a little entertainment? Before trick or treating came along in America, the custom was to try your hand (or teeth) at apple bobbing, and to eat hanging treacle-coated scones without using your hands. How wonderfully silly – and wonderfully British at that.
Fortune-telling was also a big part of Halloween in the 1900s. Written fortunes in walnut shells would satisfy the mildly curious, while others paid fortune tellers to use their supernatural abilities to predict their futures. Whether you’re a believer or not, harmless fun like this can add a sense of tradition to your Halloween efforts.
Storytelling is one of the simplest and oldest forms of entertainment – and it also happens to be something the British are rather good at. Dig out your favourite ghost stories and bring witching hour to life with haunting tales of creepy goings on.
So there you have it, a very British Halloween! Now where’s that top hat?