Hoo hoo! Hoo hoo! Do you know where the Hallowe'en tradition of the pumpkin comes from? The word Hallowe'en, first of all, is a shortened form of "All Hallows' Eve." In ancient Celtic times it was believed that all the spirits would gather at the fall equinox for a great vigil in which new spirits would meet with the old. (It was later moved to October 31, the eve of All Saints' Day, when souls were believed to walk the earth.) To keep them away, the Celts built huge bonfires. In the Middle Ages, they began making just small fires (reserving the big ones for witches!) Nowadays, the custom lives on, though the fire has been reduced to a candle placed in a pumpkin and instead of being afraid, we have fun by trying to scare ourselves!
This year, turn your pumpkin on its side, roll it around and think up a new face. Look! Its big green stem makes a great nose. Create an expression based on the pumpkin's shape: a hooked nose can make a terrifying face; a nose in the air can become a child in open-mouthed surprise; a nose to one side suggests a crooked face… and so on.
Play with the shape of the eyes and mouth. Add a couple of coffee beans to make the pupils, or maybe even some almonds at the top or bottom of the mouth to create teeth.
Halloween in Ireland always involves dressing up in scary costumes, wandering through the streets in search of treats, and eating big slices of Barm Brack! Such is the fate of this typically Irish fruit bread, served every October 31st to the delight of young and old. For the occasion, candied fruit, zest and almonds are added to the dough, and - because it's a day of celebration and we're in Ireland - 50 ml of the macerating tea is replaced with good whiskey.
There is also Colcannon, a mashed potato purée with kale, which is traditional for Halloween. It must contain a plain gold ring, a sixpence, a thimble or a button.
2nd November, Mexico celebrates the Day of Dead (Dia de muertos) where they like to eat a special sweet bread called “Pan de muerto” (bread of dead) that is decorated with little bread bones and drink Cafe de olla.
In Ecuador on November 2, the Day of the Dead (Dia de los difuntos), peasant families go to the cemetery dressed in their finest clothes to decorate the graves with their loved ones' favorite images and objects. They gather around them, then spread out a cloth on which they place their cucayo (food in Quechua).
Cucayo is a sampling of traditional foods of their ancestors: grains, roast guinea pig, pork, fingerling potatoes (mellocos), beans, cooked corn leaves, not to mention a pitcher of chicha (a fermented corn-based drink), all rounded out by "guagas" (baby in Quechua): little bread figures shaped like swaddled babies, accompanied by colada morada, a traditional thick drink made from purple corn, fruits, spices and herbs.
While they share their meal, they take the opportunity to tell the dead the family news, pray, ask them for advice, and thus spend the day talking together, asking for their help and protection in the year to come.
Transform your pumpkin in a clever drink cooler, an impromptu soup turen, a table centerpiece for Halloween or your fall party.
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