Learn about the origin of Halloween traditions at Lang Pioneer Village Museum in Keene

Family-friendly Historic All Hallows' Eve runs the evenings of October 28 and 29

Have your fortune read during Historic All Hallows' Eve at Lang Pioneer Village Museum in Keene on October 28 and 29, 2022. (Photo: Larry Keeley)
Have your fortune read during Historic All Hallows' Eve at Lang Pioneer Village Museum in Keene on October 28 and 29, 2022. (Photo: Larry Keeley)

Did you know that candy corn, the “love it or hate it” Halloween treat, was invented in Philadelphia in the late 19th century to celebrate farmers and was originally called “chicken feed?”

You can find out about the history of this and other modern-day Halloween traditions at Historic All Hallows’ Eve, which runs from 6 to 9 p.m. on Friday and Saturday (October 28 and 29) at Lang Pioneer Village Museum in Keene.

You’ll discover the origins of trick-or-treating and learn a rhyme for “soul-caking” at the Milburn House. The tradition of giving soul cakes was celebrated in Britain and Ireland during the Middle Ages to commemorate the dead, and “soulers” visited homes carrying hollowed-out turnip lanterns with a candle inside to represent a soul trapped in purgatory (North American settlers used the native pumpkin, which was much larger and easier to carve).

Advertisement - story continues below

 

 

You can also find out about the history of coffins and body snatching at the Carpenter Shop, witness a traditional 1890s Halloween party at the Town Hall, and take part in some party games.

While Halloween is a settler custom, you can also learn about Indigenous traditions at Aabnaabin Camp. Sit by the bonfire to hear the Michi Saagig people’s tale of the malevolent spirit Wendigo, and find out about the Wyandot peoples’ mortuary custom known as the Feast of the Dead.

Find out what your future holds from Madam Fortune, stop by the Tinsmith Shop to feel what is lurking in the mystery crocks, see the swamp water bubbling in the cauldron in the Witches Lair, and visit the Print Shop to listen to an 1800s fairy tale. You can also learn about the history of candy corn at the General Store (cast your best guess at the number of candy corns in the jar).

Celebrate Halloween and discover how modern-day Halloween traditions came to be during the family-friendly Historic All Hallows' Eve at Lang Pioneer Village Museum in Keene on October 28 and 29, 2022. (Photo: Elizabeth King)
Celebrate Halloween and discover how modern-day Halloween traditions came to be during the family-friendly Historic All Hallows’ Eve at Lang Pioneer Village Museum in Keene on October 28 and 29, 2022. (Photo: Elizabeth King)

Learn about paranormal investigations undertaken at Lang Pioneer Village Museum by ghost hunters the Paranormal Seekers and see some of the specialized equipment they use to make their “discoveries.”

Take a tractor and wagon ride or wander the village as the Backwoodsmen perform murder ballads, and see if you can locate the friendliest ghost in the village (he may have a special prize for you). Participate in a Halloween scavenger hunt by finding all the scarecrows.

You can also stop by the Keene Hotel for some hot chocolate and treats or visit the Peterborough County Agricultural Heritage Building for a grilled cheese sandwich.

Advertisement - story continues below

 

 

Come disguised to blend in with the spirits and ghosts lurking in the village or have your face painted once you arrive. Children will receive treat bags at the end of the evening to enjoy on their way home.

While some of the origin stories of Halloween customs during this historical tour can be dark, Historic All Hallows’ Eve is not a frightful experience and is suitable for the entire family.

Admission is $15 for adults, $10 for students and seniors 60 and older, $7 for children and youth aged two to 14, and free for children under two. Family admission is also available for $40 (for two adults and up to four youth ages two to 14). You can purchase tickets in advance from the museum’s online shop, but advance tickets are not required.