All major holidays have a meal that coincides with the celebration; Thanksgiving with turkey, Christmas with a ham or goose, Easter with a ham or
rather picnic/BBQ setting sort of thing.
Of course it simply boils down to what one can afford sometimes as well, which lends to being creative in one's choices and preparation.
But what of Halloween? Is there a "traditional meal" served to celebrate this specific holiday? And are there any ATS'ers that traditionally have a
Halloween meal that they do annually?
I'm not talking about, "Spooky Spaghetti" or "Zombie Zucchini" either, because that's more novelty than historically based.
I won't deny that this thread will discuss "American" traditional meals around and on Halloween, but to deny these traditions were based solely on
American ideas is ludicrous considering most of our cultural foundations are inspired by other cultures. Which is what I love about this country!
Anyway, now that Uncle Sam has had his massage, let's dig in.
In Solomon H. Katz book: Encyclopedia of Food and Culture
, Solomon H. Katz, editor and chief--2003, Volume 2 (p. 167-9), he provides a history
of traditional foods and costumes,
....The Halloween Americans celebrate today is a very modern twist on an ancient pagan ritual. The recurring themes of fall foods, mumming, and
divination are the primary connectors. Our survey of historic cookbooks and newspapers confirms Americans began celebrating Halloween in the early
20th century. This was a period when theme parties were trendy. Party suggestions for adults, teens and children grew as the century progressed. It
was not until after World War II that Trick-or-Treat, as we know it today, originated.
"Halloween...is thought to have derived from a pre-Christian festival known as Samhain...celebrated among the Celtic peoples...Samhain was the
principal feast day of a year that began on 1 November. Traditionally, bonfires were lit as part of the celebration. It was believed that the spirits
of those who had died during the previous twelve months were granted access into the otherworld during Samhain...Scholars know little about the actual
practicies and beliefs associated with Samhain. Most account were not written down until centuries after the conversion of Ireland to
Christianity...and then by Christian monks recording ancient sagas. From the evidence, we know that Samhain was a focal point of the yearly cycle, and
that traditions of leaving out offerings of food and drink to comfort the wandering spirits had joined the bonfire custom. Also, the tradition of
mumming--dressing in disguise and performing from home to home in exchange for food or drink, as well as pranking, perhaps a customary activity of the
wandering spirits, or simply as a customary activity found throughout Europe--had become part of the occasion...Halloween was brought to North America
with Irish and British colonists, although it was not widely observed until the large influx of European immigrants in the nineteenth century."
So as we can see, what morphed into the exchange of candy from door to door actually was an exchange of food and drink amongst those involved and
leaving food and drink outside for wandering spirits.
But what was actually traditionally served on Halloween?
As quoted from the book,"Land of Milk and Honey: The Story of Traditional Irish Food and Drink"
, Brid Mahon [Merdier Press:Boulder CO] 1998 (p.
"Samhain. This ancient festival, the first day of winter, is traditionally kept on 1 November, which in the Christian calendar is the Feast of All
Saints. The vigil of the feast is Halloween, the night when charms and incantations were powerful, when people looked into the future, and when
feasting and merriment were ordained. Up to recent time this was a day of abstinence, when according to church ruling no flesh meat was allowed.
Colcannon, apple cake and barm brack, as well as apples and nuts were part of the festive fare. Colcannon was cooked in a skillet pot which had a
large round bottom, three little legs and two ear-like handles at the sides, and consisted of potatoes mashed and mixed with chopped kale or green
cabbage and onions...Another favourite was champ, an Armagh name for a dish of mashed potatoes, sweet milk, and chopped chives or onions, eaten like
colcannon by dipping each spoonful into the well of butter. It was also the custom that when the first of the new potatoes were dug they were made
into champ. Boxty pancakes were another Halloween favourite. Grated raw potatoes were squeezed in a cloth, sieved, and mixed with baking powder and
salt and a well-beaten egg. Sufficient sweet milk was added to make a pancake batter. These were served hot and well buttered and sprinkled with
caster sugar. They could also be made into scones called farls and baked on a griddle...Apple potato cake or fadge was a popular dish in the
north-east of the country, made with a potato cake mixture of freshly boiled potatoes, a little salt, melted butter and flour to bind. The mixture was
divided into two, and rolled into rounds. Layers of sliced apples were laid on the base of the fadge; then the lid of pastry was placed on top. It was
put down to cook in a pot-oven on a bed of red-hot turf. When the fadge was almost ready it was sliced round the sides, the top turned back and the
apples liberally sprinkled with brown sugar and a good knob of butter. The fadge was then returnd to the oven until the sugar and butter melted to
form a sauce. A ring was inserted in the cake and it was believed that whoever got the rind would be married before the year was out. It was
traditional that cattle could be taken in or housed in the byres and that all potatoes should be dug and all oats stacked by Halloween. Blackberries
should not be picked or apples taken from the tree because it was said that puca spat on them on the night after Samhain.
In the Glens of Antrim they said the devil shook his club at these fruits and shook his blanket at them. In north Leinster and parts of Ulster the old
tradition of leaving food out for the fairies on Halloween was still observed in living memory. A plate of champ, complete with spoon, was set at the
foot of the nearest fairy thorn (hawthorn or whitethorn) or at the gate entrance to a field on both Halloween and All Souls' Night, 2 November. This
was considered by some a ritual for the dead, by others an offering to the fairies. The association between food and the fairies is marked and this is
especillay true of the festivals, most of which had their origin in pre-Christian times.
An informant in Layde, Co Antrim, describes how here grandmother used to make thick oaten cakes with a hold in the centre on Halloween. A string was
threaded through the hole and any child who came in had an oaten cake tied around her neck...This ancient festival is still celebrated not only at
home but in parts of Britain and all over the New England states of America."
A bit more involved to say the least! We assume going to Wal-Mart, getting a costume, carving a few pumpkins, and pillaging candy door to door is
sufficient in celebration of October 31..history took it to a whole new level, or maybe we just severely lowered the bar!
So, given the history provided, are there any ATS'ers who traditionally have an annual specific meal you prepare for Halloween?
Happy Halloween to everyone!
edit on E31America/ChicagoMon, 30 Oct 2017 22:49:38 -050010pmMondayth10pm by EternalShadow because: add/correction