ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

A British Halloween

Updated on October 22, 2017

Halloween Fun

Bobbing Apples is a long standing tradition on 31st October in Great Britain. The tradition dates back to Roman times. I wanted to discover where the tradition of apple bobbing comes from and why apple bobbing became an important part of Halloween celebrations throughout England, Scotland and Wales. Its certainly a long standing family tradition for me, bobbing apples, toffee apples and jam tarts.

Pomona, a Roman fertility Goddess, the significance of the number five and of course how to play "Bob the Apple" are all connected to the Great British tradition of Halloween.

There is much debate about which is the best apple to use for apple bobbing with diameter, average mouth size and weight all crucial to the equation.

Toffee apples are my favourite thing for Bonfire night on the 5th Novemeber but we also used to have them on Halloween as well as hot dog with onions and jam tarts.

Picture Credit


Did the Ancient Britons celebrate Halloween?

Samhain was celebrated in Celtic Britain

Before the Romans arrived in Britain, the Celts celebrated Samhain. Samhain, pronounced sow-in marked the end of the harvest and the "lighter half" of the year and the beginning of the "darker half" of the year. It also represented the death of the summer god, Lugh. Bonfires were a major feature of the celebration. The flames from the fire were believed to warm good spirits and keep evil spirits away. It was also tradition to put the bones of dead animals on the fire which is where the word bonfire is thought to originate.

Who is Pomona

Pomona is a Roman fertility Goddess

The apple tree was brought to Great Britain by the Romans. Pomona was the Goddess of orchards, gardens and fruit trees and the apple was a representation of her. Pomona comes from the Latin pomum meaning fruit. Although the Romans had conquered Britain, they were accepting of the beliefs of other cultures. The Samhain festival was accepted by the Roman invaders and the apple became part of the harvest celebration which would later become what we now call Halloween.

Apple Pentagram
Apple Pentagram

What about the number five?

The Pentagram in the apple

When you slice into an apple, the seeds form a pentagram. The Celts believed that a pentagram was a sign of fertility and they believed that slicing into the apple could determine who would be the next to marry. The game "bobbing for apples" is derived from this tradition. Participants would be unmarried and would try to bite into an apple floating in a tub of water or hanging from string. The first one to do it would be the next to marry.

Marriage and fertility were important in Celtic Britain as very few people lived through their childhoods. Not having children would mean there would not be enough labour to work the land. People needed to have children in order to survive which is why the apple and the "duck the apple" game became such an important part of the harvest celebration.

Amayodruid photo credit

Bobbing Apples
Bobbing Apples

How to Bob The Apple

The traditional duck the apple game

The traditional way to play "Bob The Apple" is by trying to bite into the apples that are floating in a tub of water. Don't forget to remove the apple stalks!

You will need:

1 large tub (filled with water)

Several apples (small soft apples make the game easier)

Contestants prepared to get wet

Towels for drying face

The contestants can take it in turn to play or if the tub is large enough, everybody can duck under the water at the same time. The winner is the first person to emerge from the water with the apple between their teeth. To make the game more interesting you can also have "special prize" apples and forfeits for players who fail to retrieve an apple.

The rules are that you must keep your hands behind your back and only use your mouth to seize the fruit. Photo Credit

Do you Bob?

Do you still do this tradition on Halloween?

See results

Have Fun Bobbing For Apples

Bob Apples
Bob Apples

A hygienic alternative to having the apples "bobbing" in a tub of water is to tie them to string and hang them. The participants must then attempt to get hold of an apple using there mouth. An alternative to this is to use donuts instead of apples, especially if you are struggling for people to take part!

Photo Credit:

Do you play Bob The Apple on Halloween?

Is bobbing the apple popular on Halloween all over the world or just in the UK? Do you play it in the traditional way, apples in a tub of water or do you tie the apples and hang them? Please let us know!

Do you bob the apple or do you tie the apples to string and play that way

Toffee Apples

How to make toffee apples

Toffee Apple Recipe

8 Granny Smith Apples

400 g Golden Caster Sugar

1 tsp vinegar

4 tbsp golden syrup

1.Place the apples in a bowl and cover with boiling water. After about 30 seconds, remove the apples from the water and dry with a towel. This process removes the waxy coating of the apples and helps the toffee to stick. Put a lollipop stick onto each apple and place onto non stick baking parchment.

2.Put the sugar in a pan with 100 ml of boiling water. When the sugar is completely dissolved, add the vinegar and syrup. The mixture should then be heated to a temperature of 140 degrees centigrade. If you do not have a thermometer the best way to check that the toffee is ready is to drizzle a small amount into cold water. It should harden straight away and be easy to break. If it is still soft, the temperature is not high enough.

3.When the toffee is ready, coat each apple with the mixture, working quickly so that the toffee mixture does not thicken and become difficult to use. Place onto the baking parchment and allow to harden, this takes up to a couple of hours.

The apples can be made several days in advance and are a great way of keeping the kids quiet whilst you prepare for your hallowe'en party.

Halloween, love it or hate it?

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      A good find for Halloween fun. Love Simpsons, The Shining and Toffee Apples.

    • WindyWintersHubs profile image


      6 years ago from Vancouver Island, BC

      It's fun to do for Halloween!

    • DuaneJ profile image


      6 years ago

      Informative and fun lens!


    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

    Show Details
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)