Wishing you a Happy Halloween, from our family to yours…
Did you know the Halloween game of bobbing for apples was first used to predict marriages? Yeah. Only single people played the game, and the first one to bite into an apple floating in water would be the next to marry. Does anyone know how to do that without plunging your head into the
water and shoving the apple against the bottom or side of the tub so you can sink your teeth into it?
There are other marriage-related games and customs connected with apples. For instance, if a girl eats an apple while looking at a mirror on Halloween, she will see he face of her husband-to-be in the glass. It’s a somewhat complicated ritual, with the girl first cutting the apple in half into a top and bottom half, so that each cross-section shows a pentagram, or 5-pointed star. This was the
symbol of the goddess of fertility, so the girl would throw one half of it over her left shoulder for her lover to eat. She must then walk backwards toward the mirror, but not look back at it. As she is walking, she must eat the other half of the apple while combing her hair. When she gets to the mirror, as she continues to comb her hair, she looks back over her shoulder and will see the face of her love in the mirror. Yeah. Let us know how that works for you.
This link below gives some great Halloween history, too. Have fun!
With Halloween just around the corner and trick or treating in Carlisle, PA happening tonight (Thursday evening), we thought it would be fun to include a little trick or treating history for you! Trick or Treating is actually a long and honored tradition dating back thousands of years.
Well, the antecedent to it did. During times of famine, disease, and such, people often wore masks to frighten off the evil spirits they believed responsible for these disasters. Samhain (Sow-en), you may recall from an earlier post, is where our modern Halloween comes from. It celebrates the abundant harvest, and signals the end of the growing time. That also meant colder weather was approaching. Well, ghosts being cold by nature, would do their best to trick people into letting them get closer to the fires. So, people were very careful to wear masks in that season.
The custom of trick of treating began with 19th century souling. On All Souls Day,November 2nd, early Christian beggars would walk through the neighborhood, begging soul cakes. A soul cake received was a promise to pray for the dead, and so each one represented a soul released from Purgatory. Fast forward to around the 18th century, and the beggars become children and the treats become nuts, fruits, and buns. Fast forward a little more and the candy companies get into the act and thus the beginnings of what we see now.
We’ll post a recipe for Soul Cakes soon! Enjoy Trick or Treating tonight and be sure to stay safe. Here are some Trick or Treating safety tips for you.
Time for another bit of Halloween history. We mentioned before that the whole idea of the Jack o’ Lantern comes from a story about a guy called Stingy Jack and a rather absurd devil. What happened was this guy Jack was having a drink with the devil. Being a stingy fellow, Jack didn’t want to pay for the drinks. So he talked the devil into turning himself into a coin to pay for them with. For some reason, the devil thought this was a good idea and did so. Small wonder that Jack did not use it to pay the tab. He put it in his pocket, which also contained a silver cross, which kept the devil from resuming his proper form. Jack agreed to release the devil only upon obtaining his promise that should Jack die in the next year, the devil would not claim his soul.
A year later, Jack again tricks this pathetic devil into climbing a tree to pick some fruit. While he is up there, Jack carves a cross in the tree so the devil cannot come down out of the tree. This time the deal is Jack will release the devil upon the devil’s promise of not claiming his soul, this time for 10 years.
Well, Jack does die within those 10 years. The devil, who apparently has quite a lot of integrity, honors his word and does not claim his soul. God, however, won’t let this guy into his place for obvious reasons. Having nowhere to go, Jack is condemned to wander the earth forever, with only a coal to light his way. He put the coal in a hollowed-out turnip. So, the term Jack o’ Lantern doesn’t actually refer to to pumpkin at all, but to the guy carrying it. But no one seems to worry about the details of myths too much. Which is a good thing, or we might be tempted to ask
why the devil was having a drink with Jack in the first place or how that bar tab ever was paid.
So, now you know. By the way, we’ve got some pretty cool Jack o’ Lanterns you might want to check out.
A turnip. No, seriously. It comes from an old Irish myth (Aren’t all myths old? Are there any new myths?) about a guy named Stingy Jack and a none-too-bright, but quite trustworthy, Devil. Here’s a link to one of the versions of the legend, and here’s another one, and there are many more.
The upshot is that Jack couldn’t get into either Heaven or Hell and was doomed to roam the dark of the night forever, with only a coal to light his way, which Jack carried in a hollowed-out turnip. So, he became know as Jack of the Lantern, or Jack o’ Lantern. So, the first Jack o’ Lantern was not a pumpkin, or a gourd of any kind, but a turnip, which, we must assume, grew larger in those days. They also used potatoes and beets, until they came to this country and figured out pumpkins were a lot easier to carve. Of course, we here at Meadowbrooke Gourds make them out of gourds, like these.
All Hallow’s Eve was the Celtic New Year’s Eve. They believed that on that night, the veil between the world of the living and the world of the dead was
quite thin, so the spirits could walk the earth then. The celebrations to appease the spirits turned into most of the Halloween customs of today.
By the way, the name “pumpkin” is derived from the French term for “large melon.”
It’s time to start getting excited about pumpkins again! Fall decorating is not complete without pumpkins! Not to mention, Halloween will be upon us sooner than you think, and we all need our jack o’ lanterns to scare away the restless spirits that prowl the night on All Hallows Eve. The holiday has a truly fascinating history, and we will share some of that with you, but first things first. You’ve got to get your pumpkin.
For the first time, this year we are offering you the chance to pick your own pumpkin!
And you won’t be picking from pumpkins piled up on tables and in boxes. You’ll go out into our pumpkin patch and pick one right off the vine. You can combine trips and pick a pumpkin at our Oops! Sale the first weekend in October.
The 2nd and 3rd weekends of the Open House would be perfect, too, since they’re Create your Own Jack o’ Lantern weekends. Of course, those jack o’ lanterns will be made from dried gourds, like the martin and the bottle gourds, but still…
And you can’t beat the prices! They’ll run about $1–6. Get each of your kids their own pumpkin! Get one for the dog, too.
Meet Mr. Bones! Bones, to his friends, Bones the Skeleton. He is out August Product of the Month since we’re gearing up for fall. After the heat we’ve been experiencing theses past few weeks in Central PA, the coming of fall will be a welcomed change. We just can’t wait to see pumpkins and fall decorations popping up!
Our cheerful and not at all scary skeleton stands a proud 11” tall and a sturdy 5” in diameter as he smiles his ghoulish though still not at all scary smile. And look: He’s lit up! A lot of his friends in our Fall collection are lit up, too, like jack-o-lanterns, witches, scarecrows and lots more. And you know how so many toys say “batteries not included”? Well the light mechanism and the bulb are included.
So, visit to our web site and take a better look at our August Product of the Month, Mr. Bones, and all his friends.