Halloween has always been a holiday filled with mystery, magic and superstition. It began as a Celtic end-of-summer festival during which people felt especially close to deceased relatives and friends. For these friendly spirits, they set places at the dinner table, left treats on doorsteps and along the side of the road and lit candles to help loved ones find their way back to the spirit world. Today's Halloween ghosts are often depicted as more fearsome and malevolent, and our customs and superstitions are scarier too. We avoid crossing paths with black cats, afraid that they might bring us bad luck. This idea has its roots in the Middle Ages, when many people believed that witches avoided detection by turning themselves into cats. We try not to walk under ladders for the same reason. This superstition may have come from the ancient Egyptians, who believed that triangles were sacred; it also may have something to do with the fact that walking under a leaning ladder tends to be fairly unsafe. And around Halloween, especially, we try to avoid breaking mirrors, stepping on cracks in the road or spilling salt.
But what about the Halloween traditions and beliefs that today's trick-or-treaters have forgotten all about? Many of these obsolete rituals focused on the future instead of the past and the living instead of the dead. In particular, many had to do with helping young women identify their future husbands and reassuring them that they would someday--with luck, by next Halloween!--be married. In 18th-century Ireland, a matchmaking cook might bury a ring in her mashed potatoes on Halloween night, hoping to bring true love to the diner who found it. In Scotland, fortune-tellers recommended that an eligible young woman name a hazelnut for each of her suitors and then toss the nuts into the fireplace. The nut that burned to ashes rather than popping or exploding, the story went, represented the girl's future husband. (In some versions of this legend, confusingly, the opposite was true: The nut that burned away symbolized a love that would not last.) Another tale had it that if a young woman ate a sugary concoction made out of walnuts, hazelnuts and nutmeg before bed on Halloween night, she would dream about her future husband. Young women tossed apple-peels over their shoulders, hoping that the peels would fall on the floor in the shape of their future husbands' initials; tried to learn about their futures by peering at egg yolks floating in a bowl of water; and stood in front of mirrors in darkened rooms, holding candles and looking over their shoulders for their husbands' faces.
Pumpkin carving is a popular part of modern America's Halloween celebration. Come October, pumpkins can be found everywhere in the country from doorsteps to dinner tables. Despite the widespread carving that goes on in this country every autumn, few Americans really know why or when the jack o'lantern tradition began. Or, for that matter, whether the pumpkin is a fruit or a vegetable. Read on to find out!
People have been making jack o'lanterns at Halloween for centuries. The practice originated from an Irish myth about a man nicknamed "Stingy Jack." According to the story, Stingy Jack invited the Devil to have a drink with him. True to his name, Stingy Jack didn't want to pay for his drink, so he convinced the Devil to turn himself into a coin that Jack could use to buy their drinks. Once the Devil did so, Jack decided to keep the money and put it into his pocket next to a silver cross, which prevented the Devil from changing back into his original form. Jack eventually freed the Devil, under the condition that he would not bother Jack for one year and that, should Jack die, he would not claim his soul. The next year, Jack again tricked the Devil into climbing into a tree to pick a piece of fruit. While he was up in the tree, Jack carved a sign of the cross into the tree's bark so that the Devil could not come down until the Devil promised Jack not to bother him for ten more years.
Soon after, Jack died. As the legend goes, God would not allow such an unsavory figure into heaven. The Devil, upset by the trick Jack had played on him and keeping his word not to claim his soul, would not allow Jack into hell. He sent Jack off into the dark night with only a burning coal to light his way. Jack put the coal into a carved-out turnip and has been roaming the Earth with ever since. The Irish began to refer to this ghostly figure as "Jack of the Lantern," and then, simply "Jack O'Lantern."
In Ireland and Scotland, people began to make their own versions of Jack's lanterns by carving scary faces into turnips or potatoes and placing them into windows or near doors to frighten away Stingy Jack and other wandering evil spirits. In England, large beets are used. Immigrants from these countries brought the jack o'lantern tradition with them when they came to the United States. They soon found that pumpkins, a fruit native to America, make perfect jack o'lanterns.
In Mexico, Latin America, and Spain, All Souls' Day, which takes place on November 2, is commemorated with a three-day celebration that begins on the evening of October 31. The celebration is designed to honor the dead who, it is believed, return to their earthly homes on Halloween. Many families construct an altar to the dead in their homes to honor deceased relatives and decorate it with candy, flowers, photographs, samples of the deceased's favorite foods and drinks, and fresh water. Often, a wash basin and towel are left out so that the spirit can wash before indulging in the feast. Candles and incense are burned to help the deceased find the way home. Relatives also tidy the gravesites of their departed family members. This can include snipping weeds, making repairs, and painting. The grave is then decorated with flowers, wreaths, or paper streamers. On November 2, relatives gather at the gravesite to picnic and reminisce. Some gatherings even include tequila and a mariachi band! Celebrations honoring departed loved ones and family members are found as far back as ancient Egyptian times.
Halloween is a holiday celebrated on the night of October 31. Traditional activities include trick-or-treating, bonfires, costume parties, visiting "haunted houses" and carving jack-o-lanterns. Irish and Scottish immigrants carried versions of the tradition to North America in the nineteenth century. Other western countries embraced the holiday in the late twentieth century including Ireland, the United States, Canada, Puerto Rico and the United Kingdom as well as of Australia and New Zealand.
Halloween's origins date back to the ancient Celtic festival of Samhain (pronounced sow-in).
The Celts, who lived 2,000 years ago in the area that is now Ireland, the United Kingdom, and northern France, celebrated their new year on November 1. This day marked the end of summer and the harvest and the beginning of the dark, cold winter, a time of year that was often associated with human death. Celts believed that on the night before the new year, the boundary between the worlds of the living and the dead became blurred. On the night of October 31, they celebrated Samhain, when it was believed that the ghosts of the dead returned to earth. In addition to causing trouble and damaging crops, Celts thought that the presence of the otherworldly spirits made it easier for the Druids, or Celtic priests, to make predictions about the future. For a people entirely dependent on the volatile natural world, these prophecies were an important source of comfort and direction during the long, dark winter.
To commemorate the event, Druids built huge sacred bonfires, where the people gathered to burn crops and animals as sacrifices to the Celtic deities.
During the celebration, the Celts wore costumes, typically consisting of animal heads and skins, and attempted to tell each other's fortunes. When the celebration was over, they re-lit their hearth fires, which they had extinguished earlier that evening, from the sacred bonfire to help protect them during the coming winter.
By A.D. 43, Romans had conquered the majority of Celtic territory. In the course of the four hundred years that they ruled the Celtic lands, two festivals of Roman origin were combined with the traditional Celtic celebration of Samhain.
The first was Feralia, a day in late October when the Romans traditionally commemorated the passing of the dead. The second was a day to honor Pomona, the Roman goddess of fruit and trees. The symbol of Pomona is the apple and the incorporation of this celebration into Samhain probably explains the tradition of "bobbing" for apples that is practiced today on Halloween.
By the 800s, the influence of Christianity had spread into Celtic lands. In the seventh century, Pope Boniface IV designated November 1 All Saints' Day, a time to honor saints and martyrs. It is widely believed today that the pope was attempting to replace the Celtic festival of the dead with a related, but church-sanctioned holiday. The celebration was also called All-hallows or All-hallowmas (from Middle English Alholowmesse meaning All Saints' Day) and the night before it, the night of Samhain, began to be called All-hallows Eve and, eventually, Halloween. Even later, in A.D. 1000, the church would make November 2 All Souls' Day, a day to honor the dead. It was celebrated similarly to Samhain, with big bonfires, parades, and dressing up in costumes as saints, angels, and devils. Together, the three celebrations, the eve of All Saints', All Saints', and All Souls', were called Hallowmas.
1/2 cup Pace® Chunky Salsa
1 can (10 3/4 ounces) Campbell's® Condensed Cheddar Cheese Soup
2 cans (4.5 ounces each) Swanson® Premium White Chunk Chicken Breast in Water, drained
1 bag (about 10 ounces) tortilla chips
Sliced green onion
Sliced pitted ripe olives
Heat the salsa, soup and chicken in a 1-quart saucepan over medium heat until the mixture is hot and bubbling, stirring often.
Spoon the chicken mixture over the chips. Top with the tomato, onion and olives.
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1tbsp. chili powder
1 can (about 15 ounces), red kidney beans , rinsed and drained
1 cup Pace chunky salsa
1 cup frozen whole kernel corn
1 can (14oz. ) Swanson Beef Broth
Cook the beef, garlic and chili powder in a 4 quart saucepot over medium- high heat
until brown, stirring frequen tly to break up the meat. Pour off any fat. Add the beans, salsa, corn and broth. Heat to boil. Reduce the heat to low and cook for 15 minutes.
Ingredients 2 oz. package black fondant 3 cups confectioner's sugar 1/8 cup plus 2 teaspoons light corn syrup 1 tablespoon water
Instructions For the spiderweb, roll one 2-ounce package of black fondant to 1/8-inch thickness. Using a ruler as a guide, cut it into 1/8 x 10-inch strips (you needs about 14 strips). Arrange them in to a web pattern on the cake as shown. For the glaze (enough for two cakes), sift 3 cups confectioner’s sugar into a large bowl. Mix in 1/8 cup plus 2 teaspoons light corn syrup until combined. Stir in 1 tablespoon water. The glaze should be thick but pourable; if it is too thick, stir in more water a few drops at a time. Pour some of the glaze over the web-topped cake; let the cake sit for 1 hour so the glaze hardens.
Ingredients 12 oz. premium white chocolate 8 cups milk 1 teaspoon vanilla extract orange food color whipped cream & chocolate nonpareils (for garnish)
Instructions Coarsely chop the premium white chocolate, transfer to a medium-size heatproof bowl and set aside. Heat milk in a medium-size saucepan over medium heat, until bubbles begin to form at edge of surface, about 4 minutes. Immediately pour milk over chocolate. When chocolate begins to melt, stir until combined. Whisk in vanilla extract and 2 drops orange food color; whisk until a light foam forms on surface. Pour into 10 mugs, garnish with whipped cream and chocolate nonpareils, and serve immediately
1 quart orange sherbet 1 half-gallon vanilla ice cream 3 disposable decorating bags 9 clear 10-ounce glasses Yellow paste or gel food color Orange nonpareils, for garnish
Cooking Instructions Let the sherbet and ice cream sit at room temperature until softened, about 15 minutes. Transfer the sherbet to a decorating bag. Transfer 4 cups of the ice cream to another decorating bag. Place them in the freezer.
Adding a few drops at a time, mix some yellow food color into the remaining ice cream. Transfer the yellow ice cream to the third decorating bag. Pipe some yellow ice cream into the bottom third of each glass. Put the glasses in the freezer.
Remove the decorating bag with sherbet from the freezer to soften. When it is soft enough to pipe, remove the glasses from the freezer and pipe an even layer of sherbet into each. Return the glasses to the freezer.
Remove the decorating bag with the white ice cream from the freezer to soften and pipe it into each glass. Return the glasses to the freezer. Remove them about 15 minutes before serving. Just before serving, sprinkle each parfait with nonpareils.
Ingredients 1 quart dark chocolate ice cream 1 pint orange sherbet 1 8 oz. container non-dairy whipped topping 1 cup chocolate cookie crumbs 1/4 cup shelled peants
Cooking Instructions Place a scoop of ice cream in the bottom of each parfait glass; add a scoop of sherbet. Sprinkle on 2 tablespoons cookie crumbs. Add a small scoop of ice cream and then ⅓ cup whipped topping. Top with 1 tablespoon cookie crumbs and a tablespoon of peanuts.
Material: Orange craft foam Green craft foam Brown chenille stick Brown or black marker Suction cup hanger Orange glitter glue Paintbrush Scissors Hot glue gun White craft glue Pattern
Directions Trace the pattern onto orange craft foam and cut out. Cut out leaves from the green craft foam and use white glue to adhere the leaves to the top of the pumpkins. Use a marker to draw lines onto your pumpkins. Let the glue dry. Cut a four inch piece off the chenille stick and save the remainder for another project. Fold the four inch piece in half, creating a loop at one end. Hot glue the open end of the chenille stick to the back of the pumpkin for the stem, leaving about one inch showing with the loop at the top. Paint pumpkins with orange glitter glue and let them dry. Attach suction cup to a window and hang pumpkin by the stem.
Ingredients 1 package (18-1/4 ounces) chocolate cake mix 1 can (16 ounces) chocolate frosting 24 fudge-striped cookies 24 milk chocolate kisses Red decorating icing
Directions Prepare and bake cake batter according to package directions for cupcakes; cool completely. Set aside 2 tablespoons chocolate frosting. Frost cupcakes with remaining frosting. For bat wings, cut cookies in half and add scalloped edges if desired. Insert two cookie halves into each cupcake. Gently press chocolate kisses into frosting for heads. Pipe ears with reserved frosting; add eyes with decorating icing.
Ingredients 1/2 cup vanilla frosting, divided 36 miniature semisweet chocolate chips 12 large marshmallows 1 drop each green, red and yellow food coloring, optional 1/4 cup flaked coconut 12 chocolate wafers 12 miniature peanut butter cups 12 milk chocolate kisses
For the face of each witch, place a dab of frosting on the bottom of three chocolate chips; press two for eyes and one for nose onto each marshmallow.
For hair, combine green food coloring and a drop of water in a small resealable plastic bag; add coconut and shake well. Spread a small amount of frosting on sides of marshmallows; press coconut hair into frosting. Place 3 tablespoons of frosting in a small heavy-duty resealable plastic bag; tint orange with red and yellow food coloring. Set aside.
For hats, spread some of the remaining frosting in the center of chocolate wafers; press peanut butter cups upside down into frosting. Lightly spread bottoms of chocolate kisses with frosting; place on peanut butter cups. Cut a small hole in the corner of pastry or plastic bag; insert a small star tip. Fill the bag with frosting and pipe stars around the base of each peanut butter cup. Secure a hat to each witch with a dab of frosting.
CRAFT MATERIALS: Black pipe cleaners Lollipops Googly eyes Glue
1. Holding all four pipe cleaners, center them at the base of the pop and wrap them around the stick once so there are four legs on each side. 2. Bend the pipe cleaner ends to form eight feet. 3. Glue on googly eyes.
Pumpkin Cookie Pops 3/4 cup unsalted butter, softened 1/2 cup brown sugar, firmly packed 1/2 cup canned or fresh cooked pumpkin 1 tablespoon orange zest 1 egg yolk 1 teaspoon pure vanilla 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger ¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg Pinch salt 20 wooden sticks (tongue depressors or Popsicle sticks work best)
Preheat oven to 350°F (175°C). In a large mixing bowl, combine with electric mixer the butter, brown sugar and orange zest. Add the pumpkin, egg yolk, and vanilla. Mix. Gradually add the flour and spices. Mix with your hands to create a soft dough. Wrap in plastic and refrigerate for 30 minutes. Divide dough into two pieces. Roll out each piece to 1/4-inch thickness on a floured surface. Cut into pumpkin shapes with cookie cutters. Place on ungreased baking sheet and securely insert a wooden stick into the bottom half of each pumpkin cookie. Bake for 12 to 15 minutes. Decorate with favorite frosting. Makes 20 cookie pops.
Big Pumpkin Cookie 1 (18-ounce) package NESTLÉ® TOLL HOUSE® Sugar Cookie Bar Dough 1 jar decorator candies and melted chocolate for icing Preheat oven to 325°F (175°C). Grease large baking sheet. Shape dough into 8-inch-pumpkin shape on prepared baking sheet. Bake for 16 to 18 minutes or until golden brown. Cool on baking sheet for 2 minutes; carefully loosen cookie with spatula. Cool on baking sheet on wire rack completely. Decorate as desired. Makes 4 servings.
3 Tbsp margarine 4 cups miniature marshmallows (or 10 oz large marshmallows, about 40) 6 cups rice crispy cereal jack-o-lantern lollipop pan
Melt margarine in a large saucepan over low heat. Add marshmallows and stir until completely melted. Remove from heat. Add cereal and stir until well coated. Add the candy and mix until candy is evenly mixed. Spray a pan with non-stick cooking spray or line with waxed paper. Using a buttered spatula or waxed paper, press the mixture evenly into a 9x13" pan. Cut into squares when cool.