This is the time of year that really, REALLY gets me excited! Autumn – the changing colours, the stormy seas (great for surf) and even the darker nights. Yes folks, contrary to most peoples opinions about the early evenings, I think they’re fab! For one, the fire goes on, the duvet comes downstairs and I have an excuse (okay not a real excuse) to carb load with all those fabulously tasty casseroles, stews and hot pots! There really is nothing else like it. Add to that a generous helping of hot chocolate and your away!
But Autumn also heralds one of my favourite times of year – Halloween. Steeped in history, this ‘holiday’ really is one of the most misunderstood times of the year! We all love the pumpkin carving, the trick or treating children and the opportunity to throw a scary party with friends but how many of you know the real history behind this goulish night?
Originating from the old Celtic festival of Samhain (meaning Summers End) Halloween was a time of collecting in the harvest and coming together to remember the loved ones that have passed. So where has the ghostly imagery come from? It’s thought that Halloween is the time of the year when the veil between the world of the living and dead is at it’s thinnest. Believing that all manner of souls walked the earth on this night, people would dress their children up in goulish costumes to deter the mischievous spirits from inhabiting them. Cakes were baked and offered to the ancestors and turnips were carved (before the Americans introduced Pumpkins) to recreate the legend of Stingy Jack – a later Christian Irish tale of a miserable old man who tricked the devil and became banned from both heaven and hell. Being forced to wander the earth for eternity, the devil took pity on Jack and tossed him a burning ember. Jack hollowed out a turnip and placed the ember inside, carrying his primitively carved light across the lands. It’s from this that we have the name Jack O’Lantern.
There’s so much to do to celebrate Halloween. Between apple bobbing, drinking winter warm punch and handing out dollops of sweets to children, why not look to some of the more creative practices.. In the kitchen you could rustle up some traditional Samhain recipes like Colcannon or toffee apples? Have a feast that really embodies the spirit of the night! Perhaps visit a place that’s full of history or take an Autumn walk and collect leaves to paint and make prints with the kids. If it’s spooktastic inspiration you seek, there’s lots out there too – check out the local haunted tourist spots, decorate the home with your freshly carved Jack O’Lanterns and get the imagination flowing by telling scary stories. When it comes down to it, you can’t avoid it so you may as well embrace it!
Whatever your beliefs about this time of year, you have to admit that it’s a time of change; the colours of the trees, the new seasonal vegetables and the fabulous energy of the winter storms.
Not everyone gets on well with the cold – especially after a long and warm summer, but it’s important to remember that variety truly is the spice of life and without it, those blissful sunshine months would become uninspiring and mundane. So this Autumn, why not embrace the changes that Autumn brings!
Have a fab Halloween!