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Sunday, 1 November 2015

Ted is spooked



… to find out that Halloween and the Day of the Dead are not the same thing at all, and what’s more Halloween did not originate in North America …

While the two were the same thing in my mind until now it seems that the Day of the Dead of “All Souls and All Saints” days originated in Mexico and is a time when families go cemeteries and make offerings to their departed loved ones, sprinkle marigolds, make heads from bread and sugar skulls to honour them.  Halloween on the other hand means “hallowed evening” or the eve of All Hallows and it has its roots in the Celtic speaking countries and most likely Pagan festivals to celebrate the autumn harvests.  All Hallows day the next day then traditionally remembers their dearly departed.


Pumpkins are synonymous with Halloween and the bounty of autumn harvest. They have long been carved into “Jack of Lanterns” with their ghoulish faces and candles, although in earlier Celtic times they were more likely to have been carved from turnips or rutabaga. People would dress up and go from household to household singing songs in exchange for food and gifts, and threatening to do mischief like burning down your house if they weren't forthcoming – trick or treat has clearly become more friendly and light hearted with the passage of time.

Halloween costumes on the other hand have become far more outlandish and pretty much anything ghoulish or daring will go now, skeletons, witches, wolves, and pigs are popular in the UK this year apparently.

Halloween foodstuffs abound as well, pumpkin marshmallows, spider cupcakes, candies in all shapes and colours avec or sans hidden skeleton jellies, scary house gingerbread creations - the list is endless. In Ireland they have the Barmbrack bread that has various objects baked into it that makes what you find in your slice a Halloween fortune telling ... 

In all this Halloween excitement I somehow can’t help but feel that the all-around versatility and goodness of the humble pumpkin gets a little overlooked. Despite the fact that Halloween didn't originate in North America we know that pumpkins appear to have done so in Mexico, as far back as 7000 BC even. Pumpkins or winter squash grow on all continents except Antarctica (a tab obvious again Ted) with the US being the biggest producer, followed by Canada, Mexico, India, and China.  Oddly not everyone deems pumpkins fit for human consumption and in much of Europe they are grown purely as food for livestock.

Those of us that do eat them know that we can eat almost every part of them – flowers, leaves, the fleshy shell, and last but not least, the seeds. We roast, boil, and steam them, make soup and sweet pies, toast the seeds,
make pumpkin seed oil which is marvellous nutty dark green goodness for drizzling on … oh almost anything. 

7 comments:

PerthDailyPhoto said...

You've put me in the mood for pumpkin soup Mo.. Really, you have :)

Chel at Sweetbriar Dreams said...

We bought three this year and I haven't done anything apart from carve! I tried Homity Pie last week which is cheese, pumpkin and leek on pastry. Absolutely delicious so may save one of the pumpkins from just rotting outside and give this a go. Hope you had a good Halloween x

Sharon Anck said...

Grace might be yearning for pumpkin soup but now I'm yearning for a slice of pumpkin pie. It wouldn't be November without one.

William Kendall said...

Pumpkin pie for me!

Geoff Wilkinson said...

You truly are a mind of information...I saw more Halloween decorations and trick of treaters this year than ever before...

Jack said...

I learn so much fro Ted and the Doll.

Angie said...

Nice bit of research, Ted!!

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