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Happy Halloween

Pumpkin Cookies
It’s almost here! That bewitching day of ghosts, goblins and witches: HALLOWEEN. I have to admit that Halloween is one of my favorite holidays. I loved dressing up and going Trick or Treating until I was at least 13 (my sister was younger, so I have an excuse). But even as an adult I love Halloween because of its history. According to Wikipedia:

Halloween originated from the Pagan festival Samhain, celebrated among the Celts of Ireland and Great Britain. 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. Halloween is now celebrated in several parts of the western world, most commonly in Ireland, the United States, Canada, Puerto Rico, and the United Kingdom.

The modern holiday of Halloween has its origins in the ancient Gaelic festival known as Samhain (pronounced /ˈsË aunʲ/ from the Old Irish samain). The Festival of Samhain is a celebration of the end of the harvest season in Gaelic culture, and is regarded as ‘The Celtic New Year’. Traditionally, the festival was a time used by the ancient pagans to take stock of supplies and slaughter livestock for winter stores. The Ancient Gaels believed that on October 31, the boundaries between the worlds of the living and the dead overlapped and the deceased would come back to life and cause havoc such as sickness or damaged crops. The festivals would frequently involve bonfires, where the bones of slaughtered livestock were thrown. Costumes and masks were also worn at the festivals in an attempt to mimic the evil spirits or placate them. When the Romans occupied Celtic territory, several Roman traditions were also incorporated into the festivals. Feralia, a day celebrated in late October by the Romans for the passing of the dead as well as a festival which celebrated the Roman Goddess Pomona, the goddess of fruit were incorporated into the celebrations. The symbol of Pomona was an apple, which is a proposed origin for the tradition of bobbing for apples on Halloween.

Now that I have children, I enjoy making Halloween special for them. My son wants to make Pumpkin Cookies for his Kindergarten party. Since my mom couldn’t find her recipe (which is the best sugar cookie recipe I have ever eaten), I use a sugar cookie recipe that I found on a bag of generic sugar (below is the recipe). It is the only recipe that tastes most like my mom’s lost recipe. I usually make my own icing to decorate these cookies, but with an additional 1 year old, I don’t have time. So, we are going to use orange & green sprinkles; less time, much cheaper and less sugar :)

My son loves jack-o-lanterns, and we may have to make two this year. One of our traditions is to roast the seeds after taking them out of the pumpkin. It makes a tasty (and healthly: they are a good source of iron, zinc, essential fatty acids, potassium, and magnesium) snack, and we all love to eat them. Using pumpkins as jack-o-lanterns goes back to the Celts, according to Wikipedia:

Using pumpkins as lanterns at Halloween is based on an ancient Celtic custom brought to America by Irish immigrants. All Hallows Eve on 31 October marked the end of the old Celtic calendar year, and on that night hollowed-out turnips, beets and rutabagas with candles inside them were placed on windowsills and porches to welcome home the spirits of deceased ancestors and ward off evil spirits and a restless soul called “Stingy Jack,” hence the name “Jack-o-lantern.”

So, take time to enjoy Halloween with your little ghosts & goblins. It is a special day indeed :)

Relevant pics from Flickr

By myhappylittleplace

By dEEsign photography

By EightJs

By peggy.

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