Halloween is my favorite time of year. Not only because of the diabolical holiday, but because the weather is finally changing once again, and autumn is the most beautiful season of them all to me. The summer heat has finally dissipated, and the cool breezes bring with it brightly colored leaves on trees, and an overall sense of contentment. I know not everyone feels this way, and I suppose this is what defines a true follower of the Halloween spirit.
Enjoy the season...
All Hallows Eve was actually the name given to the day before the religious holiday called All Saints Day. On this day, the Roman Catholic and Anglican churches feasted and openly glorified God and all of his saints (known and unknown). The actual day was celebrated on November 1st in the Western part of England (as so decreed by Pope Gregory IV in the year 837). The term All Hallows Eve came from medieval England, and referenced the preceding evening before All Saints Day. The observance was also known as Allhallows and Hallowmas.
However, these celebrations are not to be confused with All Souls Day (November 2), which was another feast of the Roman Catholic Church in which those on earth prayed for the souls of the departed still suffering in purgatory. It was believed that the dead would return to their earthly homes on All Souls Day, and often families would leave candles burning so the deceased could find their ways home. However, in Irish and Scottish cultures, it is felt that the devil, witches and spirits also roamed with the returning souls, and the flames of candles were extinguished until the All Souls Day festivities began.
Trick or treating has been a tradition in many cultures for centuries. Hundreds of years ago, people wore masks when droughts or diseases (or other disasters) struck. Folks believed that wearing hideous masks would ward off the demons who brought misfortune, thus creating the nature of superstition which was so prevalent amongst people of medieval times and later.
In England ages ago, the poor once went from house to house singing for soul cakes made of bread and raisins, or begging for money. Also, in some parts of England, "turnip" lanterns were placed on gateposts to protect homes from the spirits. Other ancient English folklore includes the legend of elves riding on the backs of village cats, and often villagers would lock up their felines so that the elves would not catch them. In addition, children were told not to sit under Hawthorne trees because fairies loved to dance on them, and if they were to see the children, their tempers would soar. One old Halloween tradition was to give children beggars apples, buns and money to insure they kept ghosts and goblins from playing tricks.
In Spain forty years ago, people would often put cakes and nuts on graves during Halloween, thinking to bribe the evil spirits. Additionally, the black cat is considered to be bad luck (especially if you let it cross your path or come into your home). A special pastry known as Bones of the Holy is eaten during Halloween in Spain, and this food is actually an anise seed bread with an orange glaze. The bread is also known as "Pan de Muerto" (Bread of the Dead), and is shaped into skulls or round loaves, with strips of dough rolled out and attached to resemble bones.
In a sinister twist, the Spanish Inquisition carried out Auto-Da-Fe ("act of faith") on All Saints Day. This was the public ceremony of executing people condemned to death by the Inquisition for heresy and other "sins." It was also a judicial ceremony of the Roman Catholic Church, and was considered a solemn occasion. The condemned would be taken to a public place, where they would hear a sermon followed by the execution of their sentence (where they were most commonly burned at the stake). The first recorded Auto-Da-Fe was held by the Inquisition in 1481; and the last to take place was early in the 19th-century. The ceremony also took place on Sunday's between Whitsunday and Advent.
In Poland, doors and windows are left open to welcome the spirits or visiting souls (quite a different reaction from other parts of Europe, where people are typically afraid of such things). However, Halloween is not celebrated in Poland as it is in other parts of the world. Most people are aware of what happens on Halloween, but traditions do not abound here. In North America, of course, trick-or-treaters are welcomed by placing lighted pumpkins in windows and on porches, and those who knock on the door in costumes are offered treats and other goodies.
In Switzerland, the Swiss carve pumpkins for Halloween and place small candles inside the middle.
PUMPKIN TRIVIA:Did you know?. . . . . . .
The word Jack O'Lantern was first used when a mysterious light began to flicker over the marshes in Ireland. When the light was approached, it would advance, always keeping out of reach. (This light is also known as will o' the wisp). In Irish legend, there was a man named Stingy Jack who died. He was considered too mean to go to heaven, and he had tricked the devil too many times to be invited into hell. In death, Jack had to walk the earth carrying a lantern made out of a turnip with a single burning coal inside. This Irish spirit became known as Jack O'Lantern, or Jack of the Lantern. It wasn't until immigrants brought the tradition to the United States that pumpkins were used as the Jack O'Lantern's. At the time, pumpkins were used because they were less expensive and more abundant than turnips.
Vlad Dracula was a real person, but he was also a Romanian prince who lived during the 15th century. Vlad was noted for his military finesse against Turkish invasions, and he is still considered a hero in Romania today. However, Vlad was also a mass murderer whose favorite form if killing was impalement. Legend has it he also enjoyed using the blood of his victims to mix in his food and chopping up the remains to eat. Thus the vampire stories were born. The actual word "vampire" derives from a Slavic word "vampyre," which means "flying between" and "drinking."
The word Frankenstein literally means "stone of the Franks" in German. In 500 A.D., the Franks seized control of Gaul, which was part of the Roman Empire during that time. Included in the conquest was a quarry in the vicinity of what is now Darmstadt, Germany. One of their knights, Arbogast Von Frankenstein, was a voracious warrior from this area, and he was the first person known to use the surname of Frankenstein. In the 13th-century, a castle was built near Darmstadt, and was named for Baron von Frankenstein.
In 1814, the English novelist Mary Shelley traveled down the Rhine River in Germany with her husband. It is said one of their stops was near the ruins of Frankenstein Castle. Some four years later, in 1818, she published her novel Frankenstein, which has since become a literary classic through the ages to the modern day. The novel recounts the life of Victor Frankenstein, a doctor who creates a man from other bodies in his laboratory, and who reels in disgust from his creation for fear he has spawned a monster.
Werewolves are beasts that have no known origins. The term lycanthropy is also used in describing the werewolf, defined as originating from the Greek words "lyoki" (wolf), and "anthropos" (man). Further definition of the term lycanthropy means "a human being that has changed into a wolf, or is capable of assuming the form of a wolf, held possible by witchcraft or other magic." Werewolves are a cross-between a human man and an enraged beast who kills with a bloody violence.
During this mythical transformation from man to beast, the person afflicted with lycanthropy experiences extremes in pain as his bones twist and change shape. The skull extends and the skin stretches, making the head take on huge proportions. Once the werewolf has taken form and is on the loose, he will stalk an obvious prey and then attack. The werewolf rips the throat out from his victim, often eating the remains or leaving the disemboweled body to decay. The person so attacked by the werewolf will be left in a living hell as he or she will remain walking the earth, haunting the human form of the werewolf. The wandering dead will torment the human werewolf, trying to stop him from hideously transforming and killing again.
There is also an authentic medical condition known as Lycanthropic Disorder, in which the patient believes that he or she is a werewolf. Werewolves are also immune to aging and most physical diseases, and are said to transform from human to wolf when the moon is full. The only thing that can destroy a werewolf is a silver bullet.
Witchcraft is termed as "sorcery, the magical manipulation of supernormal forces through the use of spells and the conjuring of spirits." Many people in the dark ages thought of witchcraft as evil magic, heresy and devil-worship. The general fear and belief that women could be witches was proven with the Salem Witch Trials in the 1700's, when women were burned at the stake after being condemned as witches.
Types of witches includeKitchen Witches (practicing by home and hearth); Wicca (witches that practice by the elements, the Ancient Ones and nature, and typically are healers working with medicinal plants and trees); Gardenarian (witches who follow a structured ceremony and customs); British Traditional (a combination of Celtic and Gardenarian beliefs); Alexandrian (modified Gardenarian's); Dianic (a lot of varying traditions, with the primary focus being on the Goddess); Solitary (a witch who practices alone); and Strega (originally from Italy, these witches are known to be the smallest practicing group with a craft wise and beautiful).
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Some Halloween words are obvious (trick or treat and boo!), but there are several words that actually originated many centuries ago, and from all over the world. Below is a brief list of these words, including where they came from and what they originally meant.
Bat:Middle English bakke.
Fright:Old English fryhto.
Ghost:Old English ghast.
Graveyard:Old English word grafan, meaning "to dig."
Lucifer:Latin for light bringer.
Scary:Old Norse word skiarr, meaning timid.
Skull:Scandinavian word skoltr.
Spooky:Dutch word spook, meaning ghost.
Witch:Old English wicce.
Click on the link to take you there...
Halloween Crafts & Cooking(2001, Publications International)
Creepy Cookies(1996, Tina Vilicich-Soloman, Random House)
The Complete Book of Halloween Words(1989, Peter Limburg)
Because web pages often move or disappear altogether from the Internet, I have refrained from linking the sites listed below.
The Pumpkin Master
Mt. Washington Valley
The History Channel
Jack O'Lanterns Net
The Pumpkin Nook
Crystal Links (Werewolf Picture)
Special thanks and love goes to Joyce O'Toole for her tireless proof-reading and suggestions.
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Food Fare is now offering the e-book version of "All Hallows Eve" and Halloween" in one volume as part of the Food Fare Culinary Collection.
Halloween Cuisine contains a brief history of Halloween, traditions celebrated around the globe, famous ghoulish legends, pumpkin trivia, Halloween recipes, common Halloween words and their origins, and links for further study.
The Kindle and Nook-Book versions of Halloween Cuisine contain bonus recipes and information. If preferred, the online articles are still freely available for reference.
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