Wednesday, October 31, 2012

All Hallows' Even

Pumpkin carving in Union Square - New York City
It is common belief that Halloween is a typically American celebration. The truth of the matter is that American didn't even know what Halloween was about until the end of the 18th century.
Since Halloween stems from not so subtle pagan rituals and customs, the first Puritans who reached the new continent were very carefully about exporting it too.

It was the Scots and the Irish who brought it all the way from their country. Halloween is a pagan holiday of Celtic origins and, nowadays, it is mostly accepted as an innocent way of having fun by both the Catholic and the Protestant Churches. After all, as long as it's game and fun, what harm can it do? Besides, how much does it retain of the ancient rituals? Only the main structure, of which we aren't even aware.

It is not certain whether making jack-o'-lanterns also has Celtic origins or was instead introduced by Christianity.
What is certain is that pumpkins seem to have been made to be carved (and make gnocchi), and aren't they just creepy?
Yet, they make a nice view on a grey weekday afternoon when, taking a lonely walk, the sight of a round orange pumpkin mixes with the smell of fallen leaves.
It is good, once back home, to forget all about it and concentrate on a hot and steamy cup of bergamot black tea.

How do you celebrate All Hallows' Eve?
Do you carve pumpkins? Do you have a nice picnic at the graveyard?


  1. We didn't do anything last night. We don't have kids and I think we've finally outgrown the fun. Halloween is so commercialized now, it's just about dressing up and getting candy.

  2. I'm not a huge fan of Halloween and I'm relieved it's over for another year, but I do love the smell and taste of pumpkin and pumpkin seeds. YUM!

  3. I used to always make a kettle of good spicy chili beans and light candles. Pumpkin gnocchi sounds delicious too! I baked some pumpkin chocolate-chip bars to share with coworkers, and last night we snuggled in and watched Patrick Stewart in "The Canterville Ghost."

    1. Alex,
      It is very commercialized indeed, like every holiday we know of. That doesn't mean we can't take the ancient and purest side of a holiday, or an event, and take its deepest value.

      I hope you enjoyed your pumpkin and pumpkin seed!

      I have a very good memory of Patrick Stewart as Ahab in Moby Dick.

  4. Yes, we went through the business - carved pumpkins and pumpkin soup/pie/pasta/ etc. We also had 'apple-bobbing.' Are you familiar with that?

  5. Oooo... I would like to have a picnic in a graveyard! Talk about writing inspiration... I LOVE Halloween, but I don't go all out, if that makes sense. I'm not big into decorations and throwing a big bash, but I love the magic of the night. It's such a fun time of year!

  6. I enjoy going to Pagan Samhain rituals for the holiday. Though a picnic at the graveyard sounds very enticing!

  7. I don't like to carve pumpkins. Too messy, but I always end up doing it because of my daughter.

  8. Morgan,
    I don't really know how hygienic a picnic in the graveyard can be. But it's a nice idea for an Addams Family scene.

    I'm not familiar with Samhain rituals. I'll see what they're about.

    I never carved a pumpkin in my life, and always managed to sneak out whenever they tried to make me do it.