Wednesday, October 6, 2010

All Hallows Eve, Samhain...

All Hallows Eve, Samhain...

Who doesn't love Halloween? It's the time for childlike fun, wearing disguises, and finding excuses to create silly foods. Not to mention stealing your kids' candy once they are asleep....

(BTW I'll post a fun recipe I found for witches stew later on in this post.)

Did you know that Halloween has ancient Celtic roots? It is a holiday the observance of which goes back way past the beginning of Christianity. The ancient Celts celebrated a special day called Samuin later Samhain on the 31st of October/November 1st to observe the end of Summer and the harvest and the beginning of the dark days of Winter. They believed there to be a border or veil between this, our corporeal world, and the world of the spirits. And this veil or border between our worlds was believed by them to be thinner and more easily crossed on Samuin. Rituals took place on Samuin to ward of the spirits that were harmful and evil and to invoke the aid of beneficial spirits and ancestors. To ward of evil spirits as well as hide their identity from those that had crossed over people would wear masks and costumes. There were a good many traditions - which varied from town to town - involved in celebrating Samuin or All Hallowes Eve. One such tradition was deemed very necessary. A Bonfire, sometimes two side by side. The bones of animals sacrificed for the feast would often be added to such fires. Sometimes two bonfires were lit side by side and the participants were encouraged to pass between them to purify themselves. Fire and light is one of those things that has significance in just about every culture in the world. It is our little bit of the sun, the life-giving energy we cannot do without. Another practice that revolved around light lives on to this day, albeit a tad altered. The carved pumpkin. In the days gone by this would have been a large, hollowed out, turnip used to carry a tallow candle. In North America however, pumpkins and gourd were easier to come by and conveniently larger. Pumpkins became to be associtated with Halloween only around the mid nineteenth century. Alright, now you know where and why the holdiay started and where the carved pumpkin came from. But what about trick or treating? The of going from door to door begging for treats dates back to the Middle Ages. Poor folk would, on Hallowmas (All Saints Day), go door to door and offer prayers in return for food. They also 'offered' threats of mischief should their demands not be met. In some form or the other and on different days of the year this has been a tradition in most European and some Scandinavian countries.

Well, if you go trick or treating this year, or you hand out candy to those who trick or treat at your door you can see that you are indeed taking part in a celebration that has taken place for about two-and a-half thousand years! The religious significance is no longer there unless you are a Wiccan family celebrating Samhain but it's merely a day for fun and too much candy. If you do hand out candy be different. Give a small bottle of water, or some pretzels or anything else not sugary. My kids tell me they always get thirsty and the non-sugary snacks are a welcome change. Be sure to wear a glo-stick so you may be easily seen in the dark and arrange for a meeting place with your attending adult if you get separated. Under no circumstances go into anyone's house, even if you are lost and wish to use the phone. Let your parent or other adult check all your candy before you eat it. To prevent temptation eat a light meal before you go trick or treating. And please, be polite. Don't tromp over someones' yard and flowers, even if you see other kids do it, and always say 'thank you' when you receive your treat!

Have a SAFE and Happy All Hallows Eve.

For short but intersting article on Samhain or All Hallows Eve and how these days were used by the Church to help convert the Celts to their faith visit this link.

A Witches Cauldron of Chili

1 1/4 Pounds ground goblin gizzards
 *Vegans and Vegetarians leave out the ground goblin gizzards or use a vegetarian option like Tofu.

1 Medium eye of Cyclops (onion)

1 15 Oz. Can soft shelled beetles (kidney beans)

1 28 Oz. Can blood of bat (V-8 juice)

1/8 Teaspoon pureed wasp (prepared mustard)

1/4 Teaspoon common dried weed (oregano)

1 Dash Redtailed hawk toenails (crushed red pepper)

2 Teaspoons ground sumac blossom (chili powder)

1 Teaspoon hemlock (honey or sugar)

1/2 Cup fresh grubs (sliced celery)

1 Tablespoon eye of Newt (pearled barley)

1 Tablespoon dried maggots (uncooked rice)

Water from a stagnant pond (tap water)

Preparation :

Substitutions are in parenthesis. Best made during the last phase of the moon, if that is not possible, just do the best you can in a softly lighted kitchen after dark.

Brown the gizzards in an iron cauldron over a fire made from the

siding off of a haunted house, add chopped eye of cyclops and simmer until the pieces of eye become translucent again, add blood of bat, and soft shelled beetles, bring to a slow bubbling boil. At this time, add the common weed, maggots, toenails, sumac,grubs, hemlock, eye of newt and the pureed wasp.

As it cooks you may want to adjust the consistency with pond water.

You can tell it is done when the eye of newt swells and the vertical tan colored 'cats eye' appears on one side.

I found this on  the web quite a few years ago and don't remember who created this recipe to properly credit the author.