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.
The Colcannon is traditionally eaten in Ireland at Hallowe'en, a mashed potato purée with kale. It must contain a plain gold ring, a sixpence, a thimble or button.
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