Monday, October 11, 2010

Bibbity Bobbity Boo!!!!

      Halloween has been one of my favorite holidays, for as long as I can remember.  Christmas and Thanksgiving running in close second.   Now I am all grown-up, and I more or less sit on the sidelines living vicariously through my children.  I must hurry up too because my youngest is turning 9, and I am not sure when trick or treating will become stupid, and just hanging "out" will be the norm.
     Remember the days when making your costume was the rule.  Old curtains, tablecloths and bedsheets became gowns, party dresses and ghost costumes.  These were times when we trusted our neighbors, we went inside homes, and no one worried about eating a home baked cookie.  When we become adults, we think that we outgrow Halloween, but really we don't, we just celebrate it differently.  I love looking out into my neighborhood on Halloween night and seeing all the grinning smiles illuminating dark porches. 
     The Jack-O'Lantern has a tangled tale intertwined in origin.  According to Irish myth,  Stingy Jack was an unsavory character.  A blacksmith and a drunkard, Jack had the misfortune of running into the Devil at a pub on Halloween.  Jack invited the Devil to have a drink with him. Jack did not want to pay for the drinks, so he convinced the Devil to turn into a sixpence that Jack could use to pay for the drinks, in exchange for Jack's soul.  The Devil agreed and Jack pocketed the sixpence next to a silver cross he carried preventing the Devil from changing back into his original form. Eventually, Jack freed the Devil but under the condition that the Devil not bother Jack for ten years.  When the ten years had passed Jack ran into the devil on a country road. The Devil was eager to claim his soul, but Jack stalled.  He said "I will go, but before I do, will you retrieve an apple for me from that tree?" Of course, it was the choicest apple at the top of the tree.  The Devil with nothing to lose climbed the tree. Jack with a knife carved a cross in the trunk of the tree, preventing the Devil from getting down. Jack made the Devil promise to never ask for his soul again. Years later, Jack died.  The legend goes that Saint Peter at the pearly gates prohibited Jack from entering in, due to the unsavory life that he led.  The Devil angry that he was tricked by Jack, prohibited him from entering Hell. Jack asked the Devil where he should go.  The Devil replied only "Back where you came from!" wandering in darkness, Jack asked the Devil for a light to find his way.  The Devil tossed a burning ember from the flames of Hell.  Jack shielded this ember in a hollowed out turnip, and from that moment on Jack was destined to roam the earth without a resting place, lighting his way as he went with his Jack-O'Lantern.
     Halloween has very ancient origins and the Celts believed that this day was when the the barrier between the living and the dead could be crossed. The dead could intermingle with the living.  Spirits of the dead could rise up out of their graves and wander the countryside trying to return to their homes. Naturally, those that did not want to be possessed, would extinguish their fires making their homes cold and undesirable, in order to deter spirits from entering in.  Since not all spirits were good, it was custom to leave out treats and gifts, to pacify the evil spirits ensuring that next years harvest would be bountiful.  This evolved into "trick or treating".
     The Irish have deep roots in Halloween and one tradition that my family enjoys is the dish Colcannon.  Traditionally  it is made on All Saints Day or Halloween. It is said that you leave out a dish,with a pat of butter, in the center for fairies and ghosts. Another tradition is to place charms in the dish to signify different things.  If you got the button you would remain a bachelor, the thimble a spinster.  If you received the ring you were to marry, the coin you would come into wealth.  My recipe is a modern twist on the recipe.

1 pound of cabbage, chopped
1 pound of Yukon gold potatoes
1 pound of bacon
1 large onion, julienned
1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup sour cream
salt and pepper to taste

Place potatoes in enough water to cover and boil until potatoes are tender.
In a saute pan, render the bacon until it is crisp, remove from pan, crumble and set aside. In same pan cook onions and cabbage until very tender and translucent.  Drain potatoes and mash with the butter and sour cream until fluffy.  Fold in the bacon, onions and cabbage.  Season and serve.  We enjoy this dish topped with a couple fried eggs and hearty slices of English toasting bread.

I'll bet living in a nudist colony, takes all the fun out of Halloween.~ Charles Swartz


Dominique said...

I never knew this Halloween history. Thanks for sharing. That recipe sounds delicious. Can't go wrong with cabbage, potatoes, bacon and eggs. Next time you make it, feel free to bring me some on Sunday. :)

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