“Halloween”, or Hallowe’en” shortened from “All Hallows Even” is the evening before Hallomas or All Hallows Day which falls on November 1st..
Hallowe’en (October 31) activities happen mostly in the evening. Traditional theme colours are orange and black. Prior to Hallowe'en evening decorations such as carved pumpkins (jack-o-lanterns) are placed in windows and by doorways. Children go trick-or-treating in the early evening and later families gather for bonfires and/or fireworks displays.
|Black and orange decorations (above and below)|
|I liked this mix of leaves with the webs|
Trick-or-treating involves dressing in costume and going from house to house, asking for treats such as candy or sometimes money, with the question, "Trick or treat?" The word "trick" refers to a (mostly idle) threat to perform mischief on the homeowners or their property if no treat is given. Trick-or-treating may have come from the Hallomas medieval practice of the poor going from door to door to receive food in exchange for saying prayers for the dead.
|Pumpkins ready for carving|
The carving of jack-o'-lanterns dates from the custom of carving turnips into lanterns as a way of remembering the souls held in purgatory. The turnip was traditionally used in Ireland and Scotland at Hallowe'en, but in North America pumpkins are used because they are more readily available and easier to carve because they are bigger and hollow. If you carve a pumpkin, you may want to put the seeds aside for roasting (just wash them, let them dry overnight, then coat them lightly in oil and salt and roast at 275 F for about 1 hour).
|My carved pumpkin|
Pumpkins range in size and shape, but now there is also a white pumpkin available. The white or albino pumpkin is also called a Ghost or Casper pumpkin.
|Colourful pumpkin display|
Costumes for Hallowe’en once were largely monsters, ghosts, skeletons, witches, and devils but today often also include characters from popular shows or movies like Darth Vader and Spiderman as well as ghouls and zombies.
Decorations range from simple, just a carved pumpkin, to elaborate, where front yards are made to look like graveyards or haunted houses. Some people must spent days getting their displays ready, there are one or two quite elaborate displays in our neighbourhood that kids of all ages stop by to have a look at.
I usually do quite simple decorations for Hallowe'en, saving the over the top decorating for Christmas. My carved pumpkin never seems very imaginative and often looks a bit like it was carved by someone with no opposible thumbs.
Firecrackers, even though not strictly legal here (fireworks OK), can be heard on Hallowe'en as well as a week or two either side of the day. Fireworks displays, often organized within neighbourhoods, keep the kids and adults entertained after the treat-or-treating is done.
Happy Hallowe'en to all, but remember to keep the gore in check, it scares the little ones, and to keep your pets safe inside.
Continuing with the orange and black theme colours, here a a few pictures from a weekend visit to the south Okanagan Valley's wine region and the neighbouring Similkameen Valley wine region. It is harvest time but most grapes are late this year because of the cool spring and early summer. These two areas have a number of our favourite wineries which my husband visits twice a year to buy wine and talk to the owners. In future posts I will tell you about some of them. Both valleys are worth exploring for the interesting wines and the wonderful produce grown there.
|Bright orange squash|
|Squash including "Spotted Swan"|
|Ripe sunflower head|
|Almost black grapes still hanging on vines|
|Fall grasses still damp from the mist|
|House finch high on the wires|
|Starlings were flying around in large flocks|
|Vineyard in fall colour|
|Black Bugbane in bloom|
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