In the English speaking world, Haloween was celebrated last week by all ‘7 to 77’ old children .   As per Google :

Halloween, or Hallowe’en (/ˌhæləˈwiːn, -oʊˈiːn, ˌhɑːl-/; a contraction of All Hallows’ Evening), also known as Allhalloween, All Hallows’ Eve, or All Saints’ Eve, is a celebration observed in a number of countries on 31 October, the eve of the Western Christian feast of All Hallows’ Day.

This year is no different; thanks to Ms Lin Petrie writing below.

A sharp bite of cold wind or the scuffle of leaves over the ground tell us that autumn (or fall) is upon us once more with cold and dark nights to follow.  I think that women are most keenly aware of the changes because we prepare the most  for each change of the season.  We might knit a hat, scarf or socks and mittens, we might pickle onions or make rich fruit jelly with the last brambles of the year, we check the children have warm clothes, we cook hot, filling stews and warm, spicy soups.

All our efforts aim to cheer and sustain the family through the sad patches of weather that cut through the days of soulful cool blue skies and beautiful orange to brown spectrum of falling leaves.

Soon we shall enjoy what will be the crazy spectacle of Halloween with giggling ghosts and witches going trick or treating, great glowing warm bonfires and parties with baked potatoes, and apple bobbing.

Pumpkin light

Pumpkin light

Halloween has been celebrated in Britain in some form for thousands of years but it grew out of a very different world to our own.  Originally, it was called Samhain (pronounced something like Sow-inn) and marked the end of the Celtic year.  Pagan Celts believed that the year effectively had aged and would die and that the division between the living and the dead would blur at that time hence the reference to ghosts. This was not entirely to be feared as bonfires kept the living safe and there was a deep reverence for the dead. Many would have found comfort in believing that their loved ones were close again for a while.  Some people would have found comfort in believing that their loved ones were close again for a while.  Samhain also heralded the coming winter.

The creepy or funny carved Jack-O-Lanterns came from medieval times but were turnips or swedes (rutabagas) as the pumpkin was a late import.   Apple bobbing was Roman tradition as the apple was imported with the Romans.  Our recent abundance of apples and potatoes at this time of year probably led to their incorporation into the traditions.  Samhain, however, also heralded the coming winter.  There would be no harvest until next summer so that those whose harvests were poor must have truly dreaded the coming months as soon supplies would have to be eked out for winter.

In Ancient Celtic Ireland, a King might be sacrificed to an angry goddess if the year had gone badly and so Samhain must have been something of a time of reckoning.

The playful tradition of Trick or Treating had a much more serious purpose.  It seems to have begun in the Middle Ages and was carried out by children and poor as a pleasant means of collecting alms in exchange for songs or prayers for the dead.   Strangely, the tradition largely died out in England but persisted with British colonies only to be imported back in recent times.  Over all this time much blurring of festivals has occurred but we carry our ancestors’ need to mark the changes in the year with a shared celebration to gain courage and strength from each other to get through the winter.

Food and warmth are key anxieties of the darker months and most of us love hot food at this time of year.  Most regions have their own traditional specialities to mark the season, for example Bara Brith from Wales.

I like to make a warming apple drink for guests where I mix apple juice and lemonade and warm it gently over the hob with a sprinkle of nutmeg and a cinnamon stick.  I also like a baked apple and in this country we have our great big Bramleys which are perfect for baking.  You heat an oven gas mark 5 or 190 degrees centigrade.  You take out the core of the apple and fill it with a spoon full of dried raisins or sultanas, you sprinkle a tea spoon of sugar over the dried fruit and then a tablespoon of golden syrup.  Score the surface of the apple with a sharp knife and cook for 45 minutes.

I would love to make a real pumpkin pie this year and am on the look out for a good recipe.

There are so many special Halloween recipes and it is lovely to mark the season with seasonal fruit and veg.

Happy Halloween.

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