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Halloween in Guernsey

Images for Visit Guernsey

Guernsey ghosts, ghouls and witchery

White rabbits that jump out in front of you, mysterious black dogs who follow you at night time and won’t go away no matter what you do and a Will O’ the Wisp who leads you astray until you find yourself in another part of the island without knowing why. Come to Guernsey, where superstition abounds!

It’s that time of year when things turn a little bit colder in more ways than one. Centuries ago Halloween was traditionally the time to celebrate the last of the harvest hard work and welcome in winter. Facing the long dark months ahead when food could be scare and the cold may get the better of you, was a time to be feared. Just making sure your whole family survived into spring was quite a daunting task and many superstitions as to how best to do this were rife.

As the movement of Christianity spread, All Souls’ Day on 2nd November became a day for remembering lost relatives in prayer. It followed All Saints Day on 1st November and an overnight vigil often took place on 31st October. Many villages in the British Isles celebrated the evening by baking soul cakes, a sweet spicy cake, and distributing them mainly to children and the poor. The practice was known as souling and really transformed into Halloween only when American influences and commercialism took over.

It has to be remembered that Guernsey is such a small island and folklaw and traditions would be handed down through intermingled families throughout the centuries. The practice of ‘vielles’ or gatherings of neighbours to share Witches in Guernseyfirelight and candles whilst working meant songs and tales were kept alive. During the 1550 to 1659 Witch Trials on the island, woe betide anyone who upset their neighbour as it only took owning a black cat and looking like a ‘wise’ or ‘cunning’ woman to be accused of sorcery and burnt at the stake!

Enjoy Halloween in Guernsey

Today, Halloween in Guernsey is still celebrated and local tour guide Annette Henry will be lighting her lamp and donning a black cloak to take people on a Legends by Lamplight ghostly walk of St Peter Port. If you’d prefer to investigate some of the deserted bunkers or ancient dolmens by moonlight or be regaled with tales of mystery in a graveyard then a guided Ghosts and Graveyards coach tour may be your preference. Sausmarez Manor could also be an interesting place to visit. Reputedly the most haunted place in the British Isles, you can scare yourself with a Sausmarez Manor ghost tour led by the Seigneur, Peter de Sausmarez.

If going out at night time is too much then why not try a daytime walk with the title ‘Witches, castles and famous French writers’? The intriguing title comes from one of Visit Guernsey’s series of downloadable walks. Take a look at our walking pages for more details.

Whatever you do, Halloween is a great time to enjoy Guernsey but watch out for mysterious black dogs!

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About the author

Posted by Christina

Christina's early memories include boarding a plane to visit Kuwait at the age of two and taking big family holidays in Scotland, Cornwall and France. After enjoying time teaching in London and Holland and marrying into a family spread from Ireland to the Channel Islands and America, it is no surprise that along with husband Julian they trekked around the world when three of their five children were small. Christina now runs the family company and writes and helps with the Travelsmith web and social media sites. Email: christinaclark@travelsmith.co.uk