Halloween 2015 pumpkins jack o'lantern
A Halloween Jack o'lantern carved into a pumpkinGetty

Get your pumpkins out. Arm your children with eggs and send them round the neighbour's house to beg for sweets. Load up on sickly green-coloured booze. Halloween is upon us again; here are some of the weirdest traditions associated with it.

Germans play hide the knife

Not a euphemism but an old tradition in some regions of Germany. Much of the mythology around Halloween involves the return of the souls of family and friends. So to avoid accidentally hurting these invisible ghouls and ghosts, some Germans hide all their knives at Halloween. Though not swinging knives around is probably a good rule to follow the whole year around anyway.

Austere Austrian hospitality for spectres

Over the border in Austria, they leave bread and water out overnight for the famished souls of returning dead relatives. And a lamp, so they can see what they are eating. It is like leaving mince pies and milk out for Father Christmas. Only, a bit macabre. And also stingy: where is the schnitzel and the strudel?

Czech your chairs aren't too close to the fire

The Czechs celebrate Halloween a little later than others, on 2 November, but the essence is the same -- a celebration of those who have croaked. So they remember their departed family members by leaving empty chairs for them in front of the fire. Hopefully not wooden ones, or they may end up meeting their late relatives rather sooner than they were expecting...

Soul Caking

Soul Caking, or Souling, is an old tradition in Cheshire, England, which involves the performance of a play by actors called "mummers". At the end of it, the mummers give out sweet treats called soul cakes to the audience, which is thought to have its origins in the handing out of food to the poor to remember the dead during the Medieval era.

John Dover from the Halton Souling group told the BBC: "Our play, lasting about 10 minutes, features a battle between Knight George and the Turkish Champion, with comic appearances from Beelzebub, The Old Woman (who is always played by a man), Little Jerry Doubt, the Drunken Doctor and the ritual three-legged Cheshire Horse with his Driver."

That's a turnip for the books

You see pumpkins everywhere at Halloween, grimacing and gurning expressions carved into them by the hands of an appeasing parent. But pumpkins as Jack-o'lanterns are a relatively new tradition. On the British Isles, where Halloween has its pagan origins, carving faces into turnips is more traditional. And terrifying.

Get your cabbage, you've pulled

An autumnal Irish dish is Colcannon, which is made with cabbage and potatoes. It would be eaten around Halloween. "Many years ago young Irish girls were blindfolded and sent to the garden at Halloween to pick a cabbage," reckons FoodIreland.com. "A ring was then hidden in the Colcannon, which was made with the picked cabbage. Whoever found the ring on their plate was next to marry."

Or choked to death, or ended up with a colonic blockage.

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