Catch up on shows with The Coast On Demand
Friday, October 19, 2012 4:52 PM
Hallowe’en is the relic of centuries’ old Druid and Roman ceremonies; Christianity added the name “All Hallows (or All Saints) Eve”, the day before All Saints Day. Fires honoured the gods, and in time October 31 came to be regarded as the night on which witches and ghosts were most likely to be abroad.
The end of harvest and the beginning of a long dark winter, it was also regarded as a time propitious for telling the future, particularly as far as marital prospects and death were concerned. Today it should just be an excuse for good fun.
The carved out pumpkin (in Scotland and Ireland, swede) goes back to a stingy fellow called Jack, who died and was barred from heaven because of his dreadful meanness, and from hell because he played practical jokes against the devil! He was condemned to wander the earth with his lantern until doomsday…hence Hallowe’en’s Jack o’ Lantern. I find it is much easier to paint a pumpkin, and the children can enjoy helping.
In Scotland and Ireland – where folk celebrated Hallowe’en long before the mid 19th century when it reached America and became commercialised as “Trick or Treat” – youngsters would plan costumes from the family’s ‘glory box’, and rehearse their “party piece” prior to visiting the neighbours in the hope of some treats, like fruit, nuts or sweets in return for a performance.
Party fun included bobbing or “dooking” for apples. Put some apples in a kitchen basin in water. Each guest goes down on hands and knees and ducks their head in to pick up an apple with their teeth (no helping hands!). Alternatively, put a high-backed kitchen/dining chair beside the basin, and the partygoers lean over the back, drop a fork from between their teeth and try to spear an apple.
In Ireland and parts of Scotland, Colcannon, a dish of mashed potatoes, cabbage or kale, with butter, salt and pepper, milk or cream and sometimes leeks, parsnips or onions was specially made for Hallowe’en with ‘charms’. A ring signified the finder would marry within a year; a thimble indicated spinstership, the button, bachelorhood; a tiny china doll signified babies to come; a coin, wealth. If you found the nut, you would marry a widow or widower. Or the same charms could be placed inside a plain cake, appropriately iced.
Apples can also be suspended from the ceiling - with no hands in play - and have to be grabbed by the teeth and a bite taken. This can also be done – much more messily – with slices of stale bread or scones spread with black treacle, syrup or jam…and it’s even messier if a blindfold is used! Kids love it!
Recipe – Swamp Water Punch with Deadman’s Fingers
Bound to be a hit, this drink will refresh little revellers
Devil’s Muffins – Let your ghoulish imagination run riot
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