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October 31, 2016
Halloween and Pumpkins!!

I know that everyone doesn’t celebrate Halloween as much as they might in the States or in England since it is part of their culture and tradition… BUT it is interesting to know what this holiday is all about!

It is the Christian celebration of All Hollow’s Eve, held on October 31st, the similar holiday of All Saints Day in the Greek Orthodox religion which is held 56 days after Easter Sunday.

Some of you may think that it is something like carnival time since people dress up but it really is nothing of the kind!

It is a holiday with a deeper meaning than what it may seem and a little more mysticism surrounding it!

Set right between fall and winter, at the end of the time of the Fall harvest and the beginning of the first winter fruits! A time of celebration and superstition. It is also one of the few days of the year that is thought to allow the “higher” world to be more closely connected to the “lower” world… making it easier to come into contact with ancestral spirits…

There are similar days in other religions such as the Greek Orthodox which are called “PsihoSavata” literally meaning “Soul Saturdays”!!

It is thought to have originated with the ancient Celtic festival of Samhain, where people would light bonfires and wear costumes to keep roaming ghosts away!

On Halloween, kids get together and dress up, usually like witches or ghosts, skeletons or something scary… and of course go trick or treating!

It is also a holiday that is very closely connected to pumpkins! People carve them into jack-o-lanterns, giving them scary or funny faces and place a candle inside them to light them. They decorate their homes and yards with them.

The story connected to Halloween and pumpkins is actually quite a funny one. The roots of the story are based on an old Irish myth about a man named “Stingy Jack” and the devil…

"Stingy Jack was having a drink in a bar with the devil… but he didn’t want to pay. So he convinces the devil to transform into a coin so he could pay for the drinks. The devil does just that but Jack tricks him and puts the devil/coin into his pocket and leaves without paying. What the devil didn’t know was that Jack had another coin hidden in his pocket that he had carved a cross on, preventing the devil from changing back into his original form!

Jack keeps the coins with him for a whole year and after that he makes a deal with the devil. The deal was that he would not bother Jack for a whole year and that should he die within this year he could not claim his soul! The devil accepts and another year later when he was finally free, Jack tricks him again! He persuaded him to climb up this tree to pick some fruit. What the devil didn’t know was that Jack had carved the sign of the cross in the bark of the tree… trapping him again! And he left him there for 10 years!!

To make a long story short, when Jack died, God didn’t want to allow such a tricky fellow into Heaven so he sent him to hell instead! When he got to hell though, the devil didn’t want him there either and he sent him away also! Upon leaving, Jack asked the devil for some light since it was so dark outside, so he gave him a lit piece of coal. Jack put it in a radish he had carved out so that he wouldn’t burn his hands. Since then, Jack roams around the world in exile, not able to find rest…”

This is why they are called jack-o-lanterns!

So that is how the whole story began… Since then, the Irish began carving out various vegetables and placing lit candles in them so they could celebrate this holiday of spirits!

There are other stories and variations of this story, even Greek ones, where people argue with the devil but always beat him (!), since they are so much smarter!!

Try carving some pumpkins of your own to celebrate Halloween this year… you will have a lot of pumpkin flesh leftover to make other really tasty things with!!

Here are some of my favorite pumpkin recipes to give you some incentive!

Roasted Pumpkin Soup with Chestnuts and Crispy Pancetta 

Vanilla Pumpkin Jam

Sweet Pumpkin Phyllo Pie

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