Scarborough Castle has re-created medieval sweet treat for Halloween after dark event
The events will run from Saturday, October 28 until Halloween evening on Tuesday, October 31, where the public can knock on the doors of Scarborough Castle after hours to receive a special Halloween treat.
In the medieval tradition, the English Heritage will be treating those who knock to a Soul Cake - a small, round spiced cake, made to celebrate and commemorate the dead.
Dr Michael Carter, Senior Properties Historian at English Heritage, said: “I’m sure that many assume Halloween traditions are pure Americanisms, but in fact we know that the tradition of Souls Cakes in the British Isles is very old indeed!
"Even in 1511 it is said, ‘we read in old time good people would on All Halloween Day bake bread and deal it for all Christian souls.’ Of course, originally this tradition had great religious significance, and All Souls’ Day was one of the great holy days of medieval Europe, England included (and it remains an important holy day for some).
"It was a way of affirming the bonds between the living and the dead, the saying of prayers to release souls from the pains of purgatory, considered to be a great act of charity.
"But the popularity of the tradition even continues to the 20th-century where groups of the poor, usually children, would go “souling”.
"Today’s trick or treating definitely bears resemblance to that tradition of old, and I hope people will knock on our doors to try them – they’re inspired by history and perfect with a cup of tea!”
It is believed by some that Halloween has its origin in a pre-Christian festival that marked the start of winter. It was this time of year where people believed the boundary between the worlds of living and dead became blurred and was when the souls of the dead were said to revisit their homes.
In the era of Christianity, this tradition became absorbed into the celebration of All Saints Day, held on 1 November, dedicated to honouring all saints and martyrs.
The 2 November became All Souls’ Day, a day to honour the dead, and here many existing traditions, such as bonfires, parades and dressing up in costume, may have blurred with Christian celebrations, to form festivities accepted, and even encouraged, by church authorities.
Soul Cakes will be available at 13 English Heritage sites while they last, and as well as the free Trick or Treat sessions, many historic places around the country are also hosting a number of Halloween events including Spooky Woodland Walks and evening Ghost Tales.
The events at Scarborough Castle will take place between 5-6pm on Saturday and Sunday, and 4-5pm on Monday and Tuesday, Halloween.