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All Hallows’ Eve

By Staff | Oct 24, 2013

Halloween is fast approaching. Did you know that the history of Halloween can be traced back to your Irish heritage?

“Halloween or Hallowe’en, a contraction of “All Hallows’ Evening”, also known as All Hallows’ Eve, is a yearly celebration observed in a number of countries on October 31, the eve of the Western Christian feast of All Hallows (or All Saints)…

“According to many scholars, All Hallows’ Eve is a Christianized feast initially influenced by Celtic harvest festivals…”

That’s what I learned from our friends at Wikipedia.

Here is a little tale, also from Wikipedia:

“There is a popular Irish Christian folktale associated with the jack-o’-lantern, which in lore, is said to represent a ‘soul who has been denied entry into both heaven and hell’.

“On route home after a night’s drinking, Jack encounters the Devil who tricks him into climbing a tree. A quick-thinking Jack etches the sign of the cross into the bark, thus trapping the Devil. Jack strikes a bargain that Satan can never claim his soul. After a life of sin, drink, and mendacity, Jack is refused entry to heaven when he dies. Keeping his promise, the Devil refuses to let Jack into hell and throws a live coal straight from the fires of hell at him. It was a cold night, so Jack places the coal in a hollowed out turnip to stop it from going out, since which time Jack and his lantern have been roaming looking for a place to rest.

“In Ireland and Scotland, the turnip has traditionally been carved during Halloween, but immigrants to North America used the native pumpkin, which is both much softer and much larger making it easier to carve than a turnip.”

Carving pumpkins or just decorating pumpkins is a Halloween tradition for many families, including ours. Then we would roast the pumpkin seeds. It’s really simple. Get all the gunk off the seeds, liberally douse them in melted butter, sprinkle with salt and bake in a low oven until toasty brown. They are tasty.

Apple bobbing, playing pranks, telling scary stories and costume parties are all part of the fun of Halloween. Leave me out of watching horror films.

Trick or Treat is fun for children and adults. We don’t see as many parents/older siblings dressed up as they walk door-to-door with the youngsters begging for treats. In the past, we have dressed up just to hand out treats to young visitors. And, of course, the youngsters do not do a “trick” to earn their treat.

Remember when you could get an apple from a neighbor in your treat bag and it was a perfectly fine treat? It took some pretty sick people to start putting harmful items in treats like apples. So, gone are the days of homemade treats and welcome the days of factory-wrapped treats.

We received a news release form Delta Dental of Iowa about the best and worst Halloween Treats for teeth. At the top of the list is sugar-free candy and gum with xylitol. Not sure what xylitol is — guess we’ll have to read the label.

Another couple of good treats are powdery candy and chocolate. Both dissolve quickly and do not stick to teeth. I had heard long ago that plain chocolate bars are the best snack for that very reason — it melts quickly and does not stay in contact with your teeth like chocolates filled with caramel or nuts.

Hard candy (lollipops) or chewy candy (caramels or gummies) are not “teeth friendly” treats. The news release says hard candy is tough on teeth because it tends to be sucked on at a leisurely pace for an extended period of time. And chomping down on hard candy can chip or break teeth. Chewy, sticky treats are particularly damaging because they are high in sugar, spend a prolonged amount of time stuck to teeth and are more difficult for saliva to breakdown.

Delta Dental’s survey says 85 percent of Iowa kids eat chocolate at Halloween — and 68 percent ofIowa kids eat chewy candy at Halloween. So what will you be handing out to young trick-or-treaters next week?