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Page last updated at 10:14 GMT, Friday, 29 October 2010 11:14 UK
Anglesey Druids open book of the dead for Halloween

Kris Hughes, head of Anglesey Druid Order
The druids will dress up in their most elegant funereal clothes

Anglesey Druids will be welcoming non-members to their Halloween celebrations for the first time this year.

They will be holding a mourning tea at Glynllifon Mansion, Llandwrog, near Caernarfon, on Saturday to remember and celebrate loved ones who have died.

They believe this is the time when the veil between the living and the dead is at its thinnest.

"We want everyone to dress in their grandest, most elegant funereal clothes and bring pictures of their dead loved ones," explained head of Anglesey Druid Order , Kris Hughes.

He said those taking part are asked to write down anecdotes and stories to share about their loved ones' lives. All this material will be gathered into the 'grand book of the dead'.

"Each Halloween we will bring out this book and even those who didn't know these people will read the stories about them and celebrate them, capturing the essence of Halloween - remembering those who've died," Kris explained.

The three-day Celtic festival of Samhain begins on 1 November
A Celtic day always begins on the previous evening, so the Samhain celebrations would begin on 31 October
This is why we say 'fortnight', instead of 'fortday'
Christians declared 1 November All Saints, or All Hallow's Day in the 8th century
All Hallow's Eve, on 31 October, has become known as Halloween over the years
All Souls Day is celebrated on 2 November

The mourning tea is based on the ancient tradition of souling, where people would leave lights and flowers on the graves of their friends and family.

"Then there's a Welsh tradition where a man from the village would come dressed as a big, black sow to chase them, as the people went from house to house, singing songs and trying not to get caught by him because who knows what would happen," added Kris.

"We wanted to do something which was inspired by this pagan tradition, but to also honour the dead. For years, this has been known as the Mourning Tea."

The invitation to non-members to take part is an attempt by the Druids to get the people of Wales to take ownership of their home-grown traditions.

"People think Halloween is something American, but it isn't. They've just done a good PR job on it," said Kris, co-author of A Practical Guide to Tricking and Treating.


"It's a 2,000-year-old Celtic festival to honour the dead. They believed the veil between this world and the other was very thin over the festival of Samwain and ghosts from the other world can come through.

"Sometimes, they might have a vendetta against you, so the way to fool them was to dress up as a ghost yourself. That's where the tradition of ghouls and goblins has come from."

Kris says the main objective for the event on Saturday is to dress up and have fun.

"It's part of our inheritance as Celts and Welsh people," said Kris.

"It's the eve of winter and we must prepare for it. So we celebrate food, company, warmth and our dead."

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