It’s that time of year again when all the not-so-subtle telltale signs of ‘things to come’ surround us.
Boo! It’s Halloween!
Noticed any of these seasonal factors?
- Grocery stores overflowing with pumpkins
- Retail shelves filled with 120 pack chocolate bars
- Pop up costume and accessory retailers
- Reruns of every horror film ever made
- All seasons of the Walking Dead available for binge watching
- Cobwebs decorating every store front and window
- Children and “the kid in us” dreaming up parties and crazy ceremonial outfits
- Halloween playlist begins showing up on the radio and in shopping centers
- The only time it is acceptable to sell fireworks to the general public
Saturday, October 31st is Halloween!
Spooky can’t hurt you. Creepy can and probably will!
The Roots of Halloween
Halloween or Hallowe’en, is actually a shortened version of the Old English term “All Hallows’ Even” which is the eve of All Hallows’ Day also known as All Saints Day.
In Mexico All Hallows’ Eve, All Saints’ Day and All Souls’ Day are collectively observed as “Los Dias de los Muertos” (The Days of the Dead). Days of the Dead is a time when families fondly remember the deceased and it is also a time marked by festivities, including spectacular parades of skeletons and ghouls.
Traditions have always played a big part in what defines any holiday and Halloween is no exception. In fact, it may even be the richest tradition of all – particularly for kids as it is synonymous with the cry of “Trick or Treat” and “Halloween Apples” resulting in a candy handout.
A more recent and very positive practice that has come into play is Black Cat Day that honors cats of the Noir distinction. In 2015 this day was celebrated October 27th – most notably on Facebook. Unfortunately, many years ago in Europe, black cats were associated with witches and both became symbols of Halloween. Today Black Cats are deemed lucky so never hesitate to adopt one.
“Double, double toil and trouble; fire burn and cauldron bubble.”
~ William Shakespeare, “Macbeth”
Halloween is the one night a year that you have a pass to let loose and be a total weirdo. Along with all the goodies and parties, Halloween is full of Jack-o’-lanterns, frightening ghost stories, pranks and elaborate costumes designed to make people smile or be spooked.
One of the most popular traditional games is “Bobbing for Apples”. In addition to apple-bobbing, modern Halloween revelers drink apple cider, make candy apples and hand out apples to trick-or-treaters.
Many parents have very fond memories of trick-or-treating when they were children, but don’t feel comfortable taking their own kids out. They say that Halloween was less frightening when they were kids because it was mostly about dressing up in fun costumes.
Dressing up gave a shy child a boost of self-confidence, and trick-or-treating created a healthy feeling of community in a neighborhood. Unfortunately the freedom young children once had trick or treating has now become a much more supervised and limited event.
Another common Halloween custom is collecting money for the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), in lieu of or in addition to candy. A great tradition that teaches children to ‘give back’. Interested schools and / or parents order special orange-and-black collection boxes, along with materials explaining the UNICEF program.
For those parents who may be a bit nervous about their kids heading out on Halloween night, house parties are becoming a much more popular activity. They are also being considered as an adult holiday or masquerade. Last weekend I saw some disguised and scary folks at a crosswalk. I also passed a young woman who was walking to work. Why not extend Halloween a little longer than one day. This way everyone can get in on the act!
“Eye of newt, and toe of frog, Wool of bat, and tongue of dog, Adder’s fork, and blind-worm’s sting, Lizard’s leg, and owlet’s wing, For a charm of powerful trouble, Like a hell-broth boil and bubble.”
~William Shakespeare, “MacBeth
Halloween & Pop Culture
It is on October 31st that we have the very latest pop culture in our face. We will see a mix of cult classic heroes and villains, supernatural creatures, topical politicians and a selection of the hottest celebrities of the year. Take your pick –
- Anything Amy Schumer
- “Call me Caitlyn” apparently has had no problem at all with this (royalties?) and is quoted as saying “I’m in on the joke”
- Princess du jour – Cinderella, Frozen or otherwise
- A thicket of Donald Trumps and Hillary Clintons
- Treehouse of Horror Simpson’s characters
- Back to the Future characters in particular Marty McFly (otherwise known as our local boy Michael J. Fox)
- Characters from the new Star Wars release
And for those not so daring or looking for something cheap and cheerful, there is always the option to go as you are with a sign hung around your neck boldly stating that you are a “Nudist on Strike”. For some other relatively easy dress up ideas, take a look at Easy Halloween Costumes and Clever Last Minute Costumes.
“I see dead people.”
~The Sixth Sense, film (1999)
Halloween weather shouldn’t be too scary this year in BC. Seasonal temperatures with morning showers. Hopefully the evening won’t be on tap. Not so bad with an expected balmy 15 degrees. Growing up in Edmonton, Halloween eve generally produced the first snowfall of the year. Kids had to struggle with their costumes over parkas!
DID YOU KNOW?
Carving pumpkins are usually different than cooking pumpkins, don’t try to make a pumpkin pie out of it. You can, however bake all the seeds you have and gobble them up.
- Preheat the oven to 300 degrees
- Seed and collect the pumpkin seeds
- Separate the seeds from the stringy pulp, rinse the seeds in a colander under cold water, then shake dry. Don’t blot with paper towels; the seeds will stick.
- Dry the seeds by spreading them in a single layer on an oiled baking sheet and roasting for 30 minutes (just to completely dry the seeds)
- Toss the seeds with olive oil and salt. Have some fun with flavorings such as:
- Sweet Toss – cinnamon and sugar (do not salt first)
- Indian Toss – garam masala; mix with currants after roasting
- Spanish Toss – smoked paprika; mix with slivered almonds after roasting
- Italian Toss – grated Parmesan and dried oregano
- Barbecue Toss – brown sugar, chipotle chile powder and ground cumin
- Return to the oven and bake until crisp and golden, about 20 more minutes.