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Halloween Traditions

Folklore & Legends Irish & Scottish Myths Halloween Origins

  • Halloween dates back to the 1700's in the USA, but it has roots going back thousands of years and influences from many different cultures.  These include the Celtic festival of Samhain, the Christian All Soul's Day (which comes from Samhain in Ireland when the Christians converted the country, but wanted to retain some familiar festivals and events), and the Roman goddess Pomona.
  • The Pumpkin and Folk magic:
    • This is of Irish Origin.  They carved faces on hallowed-out turnips, inserted a candle, and placed them on the doorstep to frighten away ghosts on All Hallows Eve.  When the Irish emigrated to America, they found the plump pumpkin was a perfect substitute.
  • A Broom of One's Own:  From the Cookbook Witch in the Kitchen:  Titania's Book of Magical Feasts (Cedco Publishing, 2001), by Titania Hardie.
    • To craft this charming broom, you'll need a length of Bamboo.  Attach fresh Rosemary "Bristles" using thick twine.  It's that easy.  It will spell divine and add a little magic to any room.
  • Treat Totes - The Cat's Meow:
    • Blow up a balloon and layer it with gluey, gooey paper strips.  Let dry.  Then pop the balloon, paint and decorate into a cat.   Add pipe cleaners for the cats whiskers.  Make sure to make a hole in the sides to place a carrying string.
  • Pumpkin Seed Snacks:
    • Wash the seeds from the pumpkin in a colander.  Spread them on a paper towel to dry.  Mix 2 cups of seeds with 1 tablespoon of brown sugar, 1/2 teaspoon onion powder, 1/2 teaspoon of garlic powder and 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce.  Spray a cookie sheet with non-stick oil and spread out the seeds.  Bake at 300 degrees F for about one hour.  Stir them every 20 minutes.  When they are cool, eat them as is or mix with pretzels, raisins, peanuts and sunflower seeds for a great trail mix snack.

     

  • Halloween is actually the night before where lanterns (Gaelic: samhnag), Hallowfires and such are supposed to scare the souls that will emerge at midnight, away from your house. Samhuinn is also used in Gaelic for the entire month of November. The name "Samhain" entered Canadian folklore as "Sam Hain", the name of the guy doll which children would wheel round.
  • Halloween customs in Scotland these days consist chiefly of children going door to door "guising" (or "Galoshin" on the south bank of the lower Clyde) dressing up and offering entertainment of various sorts in return for gifts. The Witchcraft Act of 1735 contained a clause preventing the consumption of pork and pastry comestibles on Halloween although these days sausage rolls seem to a popular treat for children - the act was repealed in the 1950s.
    • The children are invariably dressed up as something supernatural or spooky and the entertainment usually consists of singing, telling a poem or joke etc. They don't 'trick' you if you do not give, as in America. However, after the showing of ET in the early 80s, the influence of American "trick or treating" seems to have become more prevalent at least in England. Hollowed out turnips with candles in them are sometimes displayed or carried. Note that many children in America do not 'trick' either.
    • Halloween parties often consisted of various games, for instance 'Dooking fur aiples' where the children had to bite apples floating in a basin of water, once they had one by the teeth they could retrieve and obtain it. Sometimes flour would be sprinkled on the surface of the water.
    • For younger children a more modern game is 'Forkin fur aiples', an easier task, where the children stood on a chair and held a fork handle in their teeth, taking aim, they would release it into the basin of apples and water and retrieve and keep any apple they so skewered. Another game was 'treacle scones' where children had to eat a scone covered in treacle hanging on a piece of string.
    • One custom associated with Halloween in the Western Isles was to put two large nuts in the fire. These were supposed to represent yourself and your intended spouse. If the nuts jumped together when they warmed up then this was deemed to be a good omen, but if they jumped apart then it was time to look for someone else!
Spider Cookies
  • Cookie Spiders:
    • Take your favorite cookie recipe and bake or use ready made rolls from the Market, or you can even buy them at Costco if you are out of time.  Purchase Betty Crocker Decorating Icing in White and Black.  Take the White Frosting and spray to make a web on the cookie.  Use a raisin for the spider body and place it in the middle of the web.  Now add black frosting to the raisin edges of the raisin to form the legs.  Spider Cookies!
 
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