Today's Midweek Mysteries is slightly different from usual, I'll be talking about the origins of Halloween.

Although we mostly associated as an American holiday nowadays, Halloween originated from the Celtic regions (UK, Ireland and Northern France. The Celts celebrated Samhain ( pronounced sow-in) on 31st October, which was celebrated as New Year's Eve during this era. Many of the Halloween traditions we enjoy today actually originated from Celtic superstitions.



Pumpkin Carving

Nowadays we carve pumpkins every year to decorate our homes during October. This tradition originated from England. Halloween night was considered to be the time that the dead could roam the Earth. To protect their homes from the spirits of the dead, people would carve grotesque faces into turnips and leave them in their doorways and window sills to scare away the ghosts.

Trick or Treating

There is a little debate about how this tradition started but 2 theories stand out above the rest. One is that people believed that the lost souls roaming around could be bribed with food. People would leave baskets of food outside their houses as an offering to the spirits, believing that it would protect them from the phantoms' tricks. The other is that one Halloween, peasants would go 'souling'. This would involve them knocking on the doors of wealthier families begging for soul cakes in exchange for prayers for the wealthy families deceased loved ones.

Apple Bobbing

Apple bobbing is believed to have originated as a way of divination. Apples were placed into a barrel and the first person to catch an apple without their hands would be the first to marry, hopefully before the next Halloween.

Night of Fortune-telling

The veil between the realms were believed to be the thinnest on October 31st. Some people still believe that divination is strongest on Halloween night. Some fortune-telling games that people still partake in were started in ancient times. One of these games is throwing an apple peel (usually from a bobbed apple) over the left shoulder and whichever shape it lands in is a future spouses' inital.

Wearing a Costume

This is another tradition that is debated. Some say that this started as a Bonfire Night tradition in England. People would wear a Guy Fawkes mask to hide their true natures. (Bonfire Night in England is celebrated on 5th November). Others say that people would wear masks when leaving their houses on Halloween to confuse the spirits and protect themselves from evil. Maybe both stories are true.

I'd love to hear some of your favourite Halloween traditions, let me know in the comments below!

Happy Halloween!
Loppy x


Sources:
https://www.bustle.com/articles/185948-13-halloween-superstitions-with-bizarre-histories
https://paranormal.lovetoknow.com/urban-legends/halloween-superstitions
https://www.history.com/topics/halloween/history-of-halloween
*LoppyLoves is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites. Just so that you are aware, I may get a small fee for any purchases you make through links on this post.

Halloween is fast approaching! If you haven't already planned one, here are some ideas to help you throw a memorable Halloween party!



DECORATIONS (Indoors)

Halloween motif decorations

These spooky Halloween silhouette cut outs will look great hanging from the rafters (or just the ceiling) of your house. Place one of the giant spider streamers behind a doorway to scare your friends as they open the door!

Photo: Amazon.co.uk

Get it here

Skeleton toilet door cover

Making your bathroom easily identifiable is always a good plan at any party. It prevents guests from awkwardly asking where the toilet is. This door cover is a hilarious bathroom door marker that your guests will love!

Photo: Amazon.co.uk

Get it here

Bathroom mirror sticker

While we're on the subject of bathrooms, this mirror decoration is brilliant for continuing the theme around the house. Your guests probably won't even notice it until they go to wash their hands...


Photo: Amazon.co.uk


Get it here

Green LED sign

This eerie green glowing sign will look great when the lights go out!

Photo: Amazon.co.uk


Get it here

Bag of bones

This pile of bones can be left anywhere; outside your front door, as a table centrepiece, or split it up and leave a trail of bones around the house. Or hide it somewhere off-limits to guests to spook the ones who go snooping...

Photo: Amazon.co.uk

Get it here

Crime scene tape

I've used this at a few parties and it always go down a hit! It's great for sectioning off rooms that are off-limits to guests during the party. I've also found that people like to accessorize with it and make sashes across their costumes...

Photo: Amazon.co.uk

Get it here

MUSIC

Now That's What I Call Halloween album (3 Discs)

If you're a Spotify user this album is also available as a playlist. Recently I've been playing it at work when I'm working alone, it got a little awkward when halfway through preparing an order the Psycho murder scene music starting blaring out of the speakers...


Photo: Amazon.co.uk


Get it here

DECORATIONS (Outdoors)

The Creeper From the Grave garden statue

Continue the theme into your garden and hide this in the flowerbed. It could get some interesting reactions after a few drinks...

Photo: Amazon.co.uk

Get it here

Skeleton Bride and Groom Statues

Following on from the Creeper statue, this skeleton couple have flashing eyes. Hide them in the bushes where guests will just see a pair of glowing eyes through the darkness...

Photo: Amazon.co.uk


Get it here

Outdoor cobwebs

Decorate your entire house exterior with these huge cobwebs! They glow in the dark and are suitable for both outdoor and indoor use.

Photo: Amazon.co.uk

Get it here

MISCELLANEOUS

Wine glass charms

These cute Halloween themed wine glass markers will help everybody to keep a tab on their own drink. They could also be used as party favours for guests to take home later.

Photo: Amazon.co.uk

Get it here

Murder Mystery Game

Invite your guests to dress up as one of the well-known Halloween characters in this game and invite them over for the ultimate murder mystery party! It is for 8-10 players and takes around 2-3 hour to complete.

Photo: Amazon.co.uk

Get it here

Halloween themed 2 litre bottle labels

These self adhesive bottle labels transform any 2 litre drink bottle into a ghoulish brew. You could also save a lot money by buying value range soda and replacing the labels.

Photo: Amazon.co.uk

here


So that's my round up of Halloween products for an awesome (yet simple) party. If you're still looking for a costume then check out my Halloween costume ideas post.

I'd love to hear your plans for this Halloween, let me know below!

Loppy x
This week we're heading to the road I used to live on, Hamraborg, just outside the capital of Iceland.
At the end of the road is an interesting church called Kópavogskirkja (Church of Kópavogur). Sitting atop Borgarholt hill, which is known to be one of the most populated elf colonies in Iceland. The unusual church structure opened in 1963 overlooking both Reykjavík and Kópavogur.



One night I'd been out in downtown Reykjavík with some friends and I missed the last bus home so I had to take a taxi. The driver was very chatty and was giving me interesting facts about everywhere that we passed (as so many taxi drivers in Reyjavík do - it's a great way to take a tour of the city!). As we got closer to Hamraborg he shuddered as we approached the church.
"You live here...?" he asked slowly. "Do you know about the church?"
I shook my head, a little taken aback and slightly freaked out.
"My grandmother told me that when the church was being built, the elves tried to stop it."
I listened in awe as he told me the story of how the giant drills used to dig the foundations stopped working as soon as they touched the ground on the hill. The contruction workers were baffled as this had never happened before but they assumed that the drill was faulty. They ordered a new drill (at a large expense) and waited for it to be delivered. They tested the drill and it worked fine, so they went back to the hill. Again, as soon as the drill touched the ground, it stopped working. They deemed that the elves didn't want the church in that location so they moved it a few metres away from the original location. The drill worked finally and the church continued to be built with no more problems.

The landscape surrounding the church has been untouched and is very beautiful. Apparently this is so the elves can be left at peace...people don't want anymore trouble from them!


Not far from the church is the road Álfhólsvegur (elf hill road) where another story of the hidden people takes place. Álfhóltsvegur was meant to be the main street in Kópavogur, but when it was constructed the road workers ran into some problems. Near a large boulder, the machinery stopped working. The boulder was discovered to be an elf church. The workers brought in a 'seer' who could communicate with the elves and they all reached an agreement. The elf church had to be relocated to a new site before the work could continue, which it was.


Have you had any experiences with the hidden people of Iceland?

Loppy x

Sources:
https://visitreykjavik.is/kopavogskirkja-church
https://books.google.is/books?id=j-NMBAAAQBAJ&pg=PA198&lpg=PA198&dq=hamraborg+elves&source=bl&ots=WkRCSu1fp9&sig=g8wcUouTUjr70YbwdXyWwkJBa4g&hl=en&sa=X&ved=2ahUKEwiq-aSZqvfdAhWR3KQKHa8ICW4Q6AEwCHoECAUQAQ#v=onepage&q=hamraborg%20elves&f=false
http://totaliceland.com/why-the-area-around-kopavogur-church-in-iceland-is-untouched/
https://www.ancient-origins.net/myths-legends/huldufolk-supernatural-creatures-hiding-iceland-005870
So in the last few months I've managed to wear out TWO pairs of jeans! Looking through my wardrobe I realised I was seriously lacking in comfortable and appropriate trousers for work (I'm on my feet and moving all day so skinny jeans aren't the best thing to wear), everyday dresses, and skirts. I decided that it was finally time to go clothes shopping. Except I didn't want to do that in Iceland...it's way too expensive.
I'd heard horror stories of the inflated import taxes on imported items and so up until this point I had avoided ordering anything online to be delivered to Iceland. I either ordered it to the UK and waited a few months to collect it on my next visit, or had a relative post it a a gift if it was urgently needed. However this time I decided to be brave and have something sent straight to Iceland for once! I looked on my favourite website Boohoo.com to see what I could find, and was pleasantly surprised to see that they offered delivery to Iceland.

Sweetheart Neck Skater Dress Colour Grape - £20


Photo: Boohoo.com
I've actually owned the same sweetheart neck skater dress before. It had a different name on the website back then (around 2012/2013). It was my favourite dress until one day I wanted to wear it on a date. I was in a rush to leave the house and needed to iron the dress, the iron setting was on high (I hadn't checked it) and the fabric melted!
I was devastated and kept the dress even though it was unwearable. I looked on the Boohoo website back then but couldn't find it, I'm so glad they have it again. I did wear it once more a couple of years after I ruined it. My friend's 21st birthday party was Alice in Wonderland themed. I didn't have a costume but I made some patches out of felt to cover the burn mark.

Anyway I ordered the dress in the colour Grape, I think it is slightly brighter than the last dress but it was the closest colour they had. I did notice that the new dress doesn't seem as well made, the material is thinner than the old dress but it still fits nicely!

The Alice themed decorations I added to my old dress, the clock covers the burn mark!

Tall Jess Cigarette Trousers Colour Black - £7

I was eager to try trousers from the Tall range which is recommended for people 5'6" and over. I'm 5'7" so just about fall into this category. For the last couple of years I've noticed that so many British shops have been selling ankle grazers and not much else. I'm not a fan of ankle grazers, but even full length jeans look like ankle grazers on me sometimes! I hoped that the Tall collection would have some decent full length skinny black trousers, and I didn't want jeans.

Photo: Boohoo.com

I found 2 pairs in the sale, and there was just one black pair of each left in my size! The first were the cigarette trousers. I've owned one pair of cigarette trousers before but they didn't suit me at all! They were ankle grazers though so I thought I'd give them another chance. I absolutely love these trousers! They fit like skinny jeans, they're very comfortable and they're high-waisted with an elasticated waist band. The only thing that I find weird about them is a little V-shape cut out at the top with wires inside. I might take the wires out as they dig in a little bit when I'm sitting down.

Tall Esme Crepe Joggers Colour Black - £8

Photo: Boohoo.com

The other trousers were the crepe joggers.  I was most excited about these as I like skinny joggers and I thought they'd be good for work as they look like formal trousers but they're comfortable! the material clings to all the wrong places and creases up, although I could probably get away with wearing them with a long top. There's another problem with them...they're too long! I couldn't believe how long these were! The cigarette trousers are the perfect length for me but the joggers bunch up a lot around the ankles.
*Edit* It's been over a month since I bought these and now they've become my favourite trousers. They look quite stylish with the ankles rolled up and they after I washed them they don't cling so badly! The material is very thin though so I've had to wear them with thermal leggings on cold days.


Plain Full Circle Midi Skirt Colour Black - £14

Photo: Boohoo.com
I used to live in black skater skirts back home. I didn't bring one with me to Iceland and have learnt to live without them but this caught my eye. The ones I used to wear were mini skirts, and a mini skater skirt would be awful in Iceland - the first gust of wind and I'd be exposed! This midi one is is perfect though, and it's long enough to wear throughout the winter months (with thermal tights underneath!). The material is thick and the skirt feels sturdy.

Long Sleeve Midi Dress Colour Berry - £14

Photo: Boohoo.com
I was so excited for this everyday dress...but I was so disappointed when it arrived. It creases so easily and it's very badly made, there's gaps in the stitching between the skirt and bodice and the hemline isn't even. That being said I'll still wear it, it's very comfortable but very thin. I thought that this would be a good Winter dress but I'd need to wear a thermal vest underneath it to stay warm.

Importation fees

Now for the scary part - the taxes! From the stories I'd heard I was expecting to pay 100% or more in taxes on what I'd bought! I'd heard of people spending 1500 krona on something and paying 5000 krona in tax and handling at the post office. I hoped it wouldn't come to that!

Here are the numbers:

Subtotal of items: £63 (8,759 isk)
Delivery: £9.99 (1,389 isk)
Total before import fees: £72.99 (10,148 isk)

Customs duty: 2681 isk (£19.29)
Total after import fees: 12,830 isk (£92.28)

Divided between the five items that means I paid just 2,566 isk (£18.46) per piece including postage and import taxes, which is still a massive bargain for Iceland!
Strangely only the skirt was listed on the customs declaration, I don't know if this had anything to do with the low fee but I thought it was very reasonable non-the-less. I was relieved that it all worked out okay and I will definitely be ordering again in the future!

Loppy x
In this week's Midweek Mysteries I'll be telling you about what is known to be the most haunted house in Iceland, Höfði. Located in the Borgatún business district of Reykjavík, Höfði has a rich and interesting history behind it.



Originally built in 1909 for the French Consulate Jean-Paul Brillouin, Höfði still retains features from that time, such as the letters RF (République Française) above an inside doorway. It was built in an Art Noveau Norwegian/French style and was built in Norway before being shipped to Iceland. Jean-Paul complained about the house being haunted, and only stayed in it for 4 years before selling it and leaving the country.

In 1914, the Icelandic poet and judge Einar Benediktsson moved to Höfði with his family. Interestingly, he was born on Halloween, although this is irrevelant to the story! Einar began to feel uncomfortable in his new home and he also believed it to be haunted. He concluded that he was being haunted by a young woman called Sólborg Jónsdottir, who had poisoned herself after Einar's verdict on a court case involving her. He complained that he had to keep the lights on in the house at night, as her spirit would often appear to him. A few years later, he sold the house.



Over the years another 10 people lived at Höfði, although none of them stayed very long. Many of them cited the hauntings as the reason for leaving. The locals started talking, and rumours spread that the site was built on an ancient Viking burial ground - which is why the liquor cabinets were habitually raided by spirits! Others said that a former caretaker haunted the grounds, although there are no records of a caretaker dying at the property.

The British Embassy bought the house in the 1940s, and it was used as the first British embassy in Iceland. In 1952 the British ambassador John Greenway moved to Höfði. He would be the last ever resident. He immediately began seeing apparitions of a young lady dressed in white whom he named 'The White Lady'. He insisted that the embassy sell the house and move elsewhere, due to 'bumps in the night'. He escalated the case and sought for special permission from the Home Office to sell the house, which he received. The Icelandic government bought the house that same year and no one has lived in it since. It is now used to hold important meetings, such as the Reykjavík Summit between Ronald Reagan and Mikhail Gorbachev in 1986. Unfortunately, it is closed to the public.


When asked the address the rumours of the hauntings, the Icelandic Foreign Ministry released the following statement:

'We do not confirm or deny that the Höfði has a ghost.'

You'll just have to decide for yourselves...

Sweet dreams...

Loppy x

Sources:
https://naturekicks.com/haunted-places-in-iceland-that-you-should-never-visit/
https://www.nat.is/travelguide/ahugav_st_hofdi.htm
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/H%C3%B6f%C3%B0i
https://visitreykjavik.is/hofdi-house
https://grapevine.is/mag/2017/09/21/time-capsule-hofdi/
https://books.google.is/books?id=j-NMBAAAQBAJ&pg=PA173&lpg=PA173&dq=einar+benediktsson+haunted&source=bl&ots=WkRBYtVdna&sig=-kNMIpHdio9n__COvFWLR5U94sg&hl=en&sa=X&ved=2ahUKEwiHtuWalOvdAhUDL1AKHXqtAFUQ6AEwBXoECAUQAQ#v=onepage&q=einar%20benediktsson%20haunted&f=false
This is a really cheap, simple and healthy breakfast recipe that is also great for a grab and go breakfast. It is extremely inexpensive, and can be made even cheaper if needed. It is still very cheap to make in Iceland! The basic concept is oats soaked in liquid, with something added (usually dried fruit or nuts).



I've added the costing with current prices from Kronan supermarket. Prices correct at time of writing.



Ingredients:
  • 30g Oats - 5kr (179kr for 1kg bag)
  • 40ml Oat milk - 11kr (269kr for 1 litre)
  • 20g Raisins - 14kr (169kr for 250g)
  • 15g Dried cranberries - 30kr (399kr for 200g)
  • 15g Coconut cubes - 45kr (299kr for 100g)
  • 15g Chia seeds - 9kr (299kr for 500g)
In a small container add 20-30g oats. It will look like a small amount but they are very filling!  Add a small handful of raisins and cover with milk. Stir everything together and pop in the fridge overnight. That's it, so simple! This basic recipe costs just 30kr per serving! That's 21p in sterling, proving that eating in Iceland doesn't have to be expensive.
That's the basic recipe but you can add whatever you like to the mixture. I've added some dried cranberries, a few coconut cubes and a tablespoon of chia seeds. It's still cheap with these extras at just 114kr (78p) a serving and the possibilities are endless! If you'd like it sweeter, add some honey or maple syrup.


Variations:
  • Mocha: Replace milk with cooled coffee, add cacao nibs in place of raisins. Add a teaspoon of cocoa powder and sweeten to taste.
  • Blueberry bircher: Replace milk with yoghurt (can be plain or flavoured), replace raisins with blueberries (dried or fresh). Top with fresh blueberries in the morning.
  • Apple and cinnamon: Replace milk with half plain yoghurt and half apple juice, add 1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon and 1/2 teaspoon of vanilla extract.
I'd love to hear what variations you come up with! Let me know in the comment below.

Loppy x
This week's Midweek Mysteries I'll be telling you a true story from the cemetery in Glasgow, the South Necropolis.



The Gorbals was a poverty-stricken area of Glasgow in the 1950s. Running water wasn't a commodity in most households and the area was filthy, covered in thick black smog. The streets were over run with gangs and violence, it wasn't a nice place to grow up to say the least. There were no public playgrounds for the children, so they would often play in the local cemetery which was a lovely green area atop a hill.  In 1954 a rumour spread around the school playground that 2 children from The Gorbals had gone missing whilst playing in the cemetery. The story spread like wildfire that a 7 foot tall vampire with iron teeth was to blame. It had supposedly eaten the children. The adults of course wouldn't believe them, so they decided to take the matter into their own hands.

A tomb within Glasgow Necropolis
On an autumn evening in September, a policeman was called to Glasgow Necropolis on reports of hundreds of children running amok in the cemetery. The children were armed with stakes, knives and dogs and told the police man that they were hunting the Gorbals Vampire which had eaten two of their friends. The police man of course dismissed their claims, but he couldn't get the children to leave the cemetery. The hunt went on for another 2 nights, after which the children either got tired of hunting or decided that the vampire wasn't real after all. The local media at the time covered the story and tried to contact the police regarding the case of the missing children, but no report had been filed of the 2 Gorbals children going missing from the cemetery. The mass hysteria around the vampire was put down to 'American comic book culture' allowing the children's imaginations to run wild. It didn't help that an American comic book had been released around the same time called 'The Vampire with the Iron Teeth'. There is also an old ghost story about 'Jenny wi' the iron teeth' who supposedly haunted Glasgow in the 18th Century.

Whether there ever was a vampire or not in the South Necropolis, the children at the time certainly believed it! Some of them who were on the hunt still maintain to this day that they saw the vampire with their own eyes. But they didn't manage catch it...

Sweet dreams...

Loppy x

Sources:
https://ebooks.visitscotland.com/ghosts-myths-legends/vampire-glasgow-necropolis/
https://www.scotclans.com/the-vampire-of-the-gorbals/
https://www.scotsman.com/lifestyle/the-gorbals-vampire-and-monster-hunt-that-shook-glasgow-1-4076003
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Southern_Necropolis

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