What’s A Turnip Got to Do with Halloween? Or Rutabagas, Beets, and Gourds, for That Matter?

Folklore or fakelore, the general consensus seems to be that the Irish who came to America brought their custom of carving turnips for All Hallows Eve. They must grow large turnips in the sod over there! Lacking a turnip, rutabagas, beets, or gourds would also do. Delicious legend, that’s what started the practice of carving … More What’s A Turnip Got to Do with Halloween? Or Rutabagas, Beets, and Gourds, for That Matter?

‘Tis now the very witching time of night*: Lessons from a Rotting Pumpkin

Oh!—fruit loved of boyhood!—the old days recalling, When wood-grapes were purpling and brown nuts were falling! When wild, ugly faces we carved in its skin, Glaring out through the dark with a candle within!** Every October, a nearby farm family celebrates the harvest by opening up their land to the surrounding community. Hundreds of cars … More ‘Tis now the very witching time of night*: Lessons from a Rotting Pumpkin

Saints, Souls, and Haints: Soul Cakes

Trick-or-treating may well have originated in the old custom of “souling,” as people went from house to house, begging ( “mumming”) for “soul cakes,” actually prayers — in sweet form.  Sir James George Frazer wrote about this practice in The Golden Bough: a Study in Magic and Religion, a classic in anthropology, first published in … More Saints, Souls, and Haints: Soul Cakes