Screenshot of Angela Lansbury as Miss Price in Bedknobs and Broomsticks.

Screenshot of Angela Lansbury as Miss Price in Bedknobs and Broomsticks.

October 31st, the day when the ghosts and ghouls come out to play! Not forgetting the witches of course! So why do we celebrate this day? As a girl, I enjoyed dressing up, scaring friends and going trick or treating but to be honest I had no idea why. The origins are believed to come from the ancient Celtic festival of Samhain where people dressed up in costumes around bonfires to scare off the wandering ghosts. It was a time where the harvest had ended and the cold was drawing in (kind of like a new year), a season that signified death. The Celts believed that on the night before the cold that the lines between the living and the dead would become blurred. Later on, Pope Gregory III designated November 1st as All Saints Day, which celebrated Saints and Martyrs, the day before was named All-Hallows Eve which incorporated some of the traditions of Samhain, later to become known as Halloween.

So we’ve got ghosts, but where were the witches? Well Celts are commonly known to have practiced paganism which had some elements of witchcraft – so I guess it wasn’t scary enough to scare off the ghosts. But when Christianity became the dominant religion in Europe, the image of the witch became associated with the devil. Now that does conjure up some dark images about witches resurrecting the dead! There is another folklore that comes from Samhain, and that is also the time when the Crone goddess mourns the death of the old God. All of the dead souls are supposed to have returned to her cauldron of life and death to a wait to become alive again! These souls make the witch 10 times more powerful than any other time of the year.

When I was a girl, there was one film that used to scare the heebie jeebies out of me and that was Hocus Pocus. But the image of the witch is sometimes conflicting; there’s the old haggard witch with no teeth stirring frogs in a cauldron, and then there’s the young Hermione Granger. There is one thing that binds these images of the witch together, and that is curiosity. Which witch is your favourite? My favourite is Miss Price from Bedknobs and Broomsticks, a student witch with a nutty con man professor who doesn’t realise his spells are working!

-Charleigh Powell
Junior Girl
Girl Museum Inc.
Miss Price from Bedknobs and Broomsticks

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