And no hoo, hooing about it. It’s Halloween time again. Miniature goblins, princesses, pirates, fairy queens, skeletons, witches, warlocks,demons and ghosts are busy preparing to capture bags of candy ransom in exchange for a promise of no tricks or pranks against a householder’s property. In countries such as our own and in these modern days, such threats are largely idle and unsubstantiated. Though roving rambuctious teens may use the opportunity to “toilet paper” a house and its landscaping. Likewise, shaving cream in aerosol cans can make a non-damaging mess that is appealing to many of the young.
Allhallowstide is thought to have its source in overlay of the Christian celebration of All Saints Day atop the earliest Celtic harvest festivals, especially Samhaim, and a day of remembering the revered dead. In many locations, but particularly in Ireland, Scotland, Wales and England, the celebrations begin with prayers for and to the dead in hopes of good fortune in the future. Some enterprising undead soul saw an opportunity in “guising”. That is, dressing up as the dead and extracting goodies in exchange for promises of benevolent fortune in the future. Quite a number of cultures disguise themselves in costumes and travel door to door asking for “soul cakes” made with spices and dried fruits. In the melding and merging of cultures and traditions that inevitably takes place in the tides of humanity, this soulin’ became caroling at Christmastide.
It is the Irish we can thank for Jack O’Lantern. This Jack was a rogue and a rascal with more than a pinch of scoundrel thrown in. His cunning as a trickster was such that he deceived Beelzebub himself. Apparently while drinking together, Jack challenged the Hellion to turn himself into a silver coin to pay for the drinks. The devil, sure of his skill, immediately complied. Jack snatched up the coin and put into a pocket containing a silver cross which prevented the demon from returning to his normal state. Before Jack would agree to separate the cross and coin, he made the devil swear he would never take Jack’s soul into hell. When Jack finally died, Old Nick kept his promise. Jack wasn’t allowed on the premises. Nor would Heaven have him. Jack was doomed to wander the black nights of the earth forever. It was so dark, he couldn’t see his hand, so he asked the devil for a light. The host of hell tossed him an ember which Jack put it into the hollow of a pumpkin where it flickers still, especially on All Hallows Eve.
This week we’re thinking of a pumpkin filled with warm nourishment for our famished little tricksters as they return home from their rampages. The recipe on offer is Pumpkin Pork Stew. What I love is the serving dish. We’ve published pumpkin recipes in the past, including Pumpkin Sage Risotto, Roast Pumpkin and Pasta with Pumpkin, Sausage and Sage among others. These may be found on our website.