Boo – As The Veil Lifts

My column for this week–once again a bit ahead of time:

Here it comes again. Like clockwork.  Every October 31st. The most loved and hated of all holidays: Halloween. I Googled “Halloween in Canada” and this is what I came up with–a simple and straightforward explanation of the holiday if I ever came across one:

“Halloween is celebrated in Canada on or around October 31. It is a day to mark the single night in the year when, according to old Celtic beliefs, spirits and the dead can cross over into the world of the living. Some people hold parties and children may trick-or-treat in their neighbourhood.”

This seeming innocuous explanation was from timeanddate.com. Such a humble and unassuming explanation of the celebration. It makes me want to scream: “What do you mean it is the single night of the year when the dead cross into the world of the living? And we celebrate by throwing parties, dressing up, and giving out candy?” Is no one else rather perplexed at this? Outraged? What about the dead who come back—are they not put off by our merry making and candy gnashing?

Apparently our carved pumpkins are supposed to keep the dead at bay—they are afraid to come to our front door (or part the veil between worlds and enter our fray) because we put holes in a round orange fruit and illuminate it. Personally, if I were a spirit I would not be deterred by a plant, but maybe I am missing something here. Originally the plant that was used was a turnip. I must concede that I would probably be scared away by a turnip, but not the friendly pumpkin. I guess we turned to the pumpkin in North American because large turnips were scarce. I am not sure we made the right choice though. Perhaps a gnarly squash or large zucchini. Pumpkins are just not scary.

When my kids were little, I decorated two pumpkins like Bert and Ernie from Sesame Street. I was much more creative back then. I made sure that Bert was fashioned from an elongated pumpkin and Ernie from a round one. I cut their eyes, nose, hair, mouth and ears from construction paper, drew on features, and used black magic markers to colour their hair. I taped their features on the pumpkins (with rounded pieces of tape that could be easily removed) and used my “art” to produce Bert and Ernie year after year on Halloween. Once the kids reached 20 and 25 they told me that it was time to retire the Sesame Street characters. I am only exaggerating a bit here—but I think from this little insight into my life you get the gist that I celebrate the “lighter” rather than the “darker” side of Halloween.

Lately I have been consulting my inner witch for the Halloween season, though I like to think of my alter ego as more Sabrina or Samantha-like than Shakespearean or Wicked Witch of the West. You have to agree that Macbeth’s “Double, double toil and trouble” witches are not as endearing as a nose twitch witch.

Never found Macbeth all that uplifting but as it is the season, there is no better time for an unsettling (somewhat edited) poem from the Bard (you can commence the hand washing now):

Double, double toil and trouble;

Fire burn and caldron bubble.

Fillet of a fenny snake,

In the caldron boil and bake;

Eye of newt and toe of frog,

Wool of bat and tongue of dog,

Adder’s fork and blind-worm’s sting,

Lizard’s leg and howlet’s wing,

For a charm of powerful trouble,

Like a hell-broth boil and bubble.

 

Double, double toil and trouble;

Fire burn and caldron bubble.

Cool it with a baboon’s blood,

Then the charm is firm and good.

 

Hmmm, hell-broth—sounds a little like my cooking. Happy Halloween to all, and to all a spooky night!

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Published in: on October 25, 2016 at 3:18 pm  Comments (9)  

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9 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. South of your border, we have another kind of scary, hollowed orange gourd to contend with, LouAnn. Hopefully, not much longer. Happy Halloween! 😉 xoM

    • hope your gourd turns out to be not so scary when he is back where he belongs

      • Yes. In the compost pile he might even do some good! 😉 xoM

  2. Your cooking is great!! Fun post, enjoyed it, even though I really don’t like Halloween.

  3. I must say the whole Halloween shindig irritates me greatly. My being irritated is not an uncommon occurrence, as you know. I think it’s the height of dumbness to take foodstuffs (pumpkins) and waste them by making gewgaws out of them. And no child needs even MORE sweets than are usually available.

    Oh, and as for it being the one night? That’s according to ‘Celtic beliefs.’

  4. I don’t like the notion or the commercializations of Halloween much, but you wrote a very entertaining article. It was a treat.

  5. This is my first Halloween in Dublin and I have to say I’m surprised. I’ve been seeing lots of costumes, decorations, and people having fun. Now that probably wasn’t the original intention, but, hey, who am I to judge.


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