Flash Back: Horror Stories; What Will Halloween Have in Store for You This Year? TALES OF THE PAST HALLOWEEN SPECIAL
Byline: Slemen Tom
IF YOU live within a mile of children, there's one call you're bound to hear tomorrow night: Trick or treat.
It's a call that has resounded for decades, not only across the streets of Liverpool, but across numerous parts of the western world.
``Trick or treat'' is an American invention, based loosely on the old English Halloween custom of ``guising'' when children were sent around the village to beg for food and money. The generous were blessed with a treat such as a dance or song, while a vile curse was placed on the miserly, who also had eggs, flour, soil or sour milk thrown at their doors.
Children who went about guising on Halloween often carried a ``Jack O-Lantern'' made from a carved out pumpkin, but originally, these lanterns were made from the shell of a turnip and hark back to the legend of Irish Jack.
He conned the devil into paying for his drinks one Halloween, but choked to death a year later on a piece of turnip.
Being an unrepentant sinner, Jack was rejected from heaven, and upon his arrival at the gates of hell Satan, in all his fury, threw glowing embers of fire at him.
Jack had to wander eternally between paradise and Hades, still carrying his turnip that burned with Hell's embers.
Up until the 1980s, Halloween was celebrated across the UK as duck apple night, when apples embedded with coins were put in a bowl or bucket of water, and children had to duck their heads into the water to retrieve them with their hands behind their back.
Sometimes the apples were suspended from door frames by a length of cotton tied to their stalks, and again, the idea was for children (and some adults) to seize them with their teeth with hands behind the back.
The bigger the apple seized, according to this old tradition, the greater the fortune, but a sinister part of this custom says those who could not seize an apple would suffer illness and even death in the following year.
One of the most intriguing traditions about Halloween claim that a girl can catch a glimpse of her future lover, on the night of October 31 around midnight, when the veil between the natural and supernatural worlds is said to be at its thinnest.
This preview of the future was achieved by sitting alone in a dark room with a candle positioned next to a mirror.
The girl was to eat an apple or comb her hair whilst staring at her reflection for a quarter of an hour. She would then see the face of her future partner over the shoulder of her reflected image in the mirror.
No laughing matter in Halloween house
AT a certain house in St Helens on Halloween in 2002, Thomas, aged 13 and younger brother Aaron, aged 10, were sleeping soundly in their bedroom.
Thomas was on the top bunk, and Aaron was on the bottom one. Around 3am, they were awakened by the sounds of someone laughing. Thomas described the laughter as `echoing'.
The boys sleepily glanced over to the source of the laughter, and got the shock of their lives. A partly transparent figure was standing in the corner, near the door to the bedroom, wearing a cone shaped hat and a white ruffled collar, with a maroon-coloured one piece suit.
It looked like the ghost of a clown. He was holding his belly with one hand, and pointing to the boys with the other hand as he rocked back and forth roaring with laughter. His face looked very sinister and grotesque. Not only was it plastered with too much make-up, the red painted nose was very long and crooked, and the eyes looked like the round black eye sockets of a skull. Surrounding the ghost was a faint green glow that lit up the room.
The boys trembled as they looked at the weird spectre, and they suddenly became aware of a very sweet, sickly aroma which was drifting through the bedroom. Young Aaron started crying and hid his face under the blankets, and Thomas shouted for his mother and father. …