With winter imminent, European pagans sought to stockpile food for the harsh times ahead.  In every known culture in western Europe, fresh meat was always a part of the Sabbat feast.  The predominantly herding cultures of Britain and eastern Europe slaughtered much of their livestock before Samhain rather than trying to feed the animals on the foliage through the long winters.  In southern Germany, ritualized hunts were held in the weeks before Samhain to gather food.  They gave homage to the Horned God as Master of the Hunt, and rode in wild frenzies as they chased their prey.

       Pigs were a traditional part of the feast in many pagan cultures, partic-
ularly in the Middle East where they were sacred to the goddesses of that region.  It was in an effort to wipe out goddess worship that the Jews (and later the Muslims) banned the consumption of pork.

       Potatoes, harvested from August to October, were also a part of the feast in Ireland where they were made into a Samhain dish known as colcannon.  Colcannon is a mashed potato, cabbage, and onion dish still served in Ireland on All Saint's Day.  It was an old Irish tradition to hide in it a ring for a bride, a button for a bachelor, a thimble for a spinster, and a coin for wealth, or any other item which local custom decreed in keeping with the idea of the New Year as a time for divination.  If you make colcannon with these little objects inside, please exercise caution against choking.

(servers eight)

  • 4 cups mashed potatoes
  • 2 1/2 cups cabbage, cooked and chopped fine
  • 1/2 cup butter (avoid corn oil margarines)
  • 1/2 cup evaporated milk or cream
  • 3/4 cup onion, chopped very fine and sauteed
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon white pepper
     Saute onions (traditionalists saute in lard or grease, but butter is acceptable).  Boil potatoes and mash them (do not use artificial potato flakes).  In a large pan place all of the ingredients except the cabbage and cook over low heat while blending them together.  Turn the heat to medium and add the chopped cabbage.  The mixture will take on a pale green cast.  Keep stirring occasionally until the mixture is warm enough to eat.  Lastly drop in the thimble, button, ring, and coin.  Stir well and serve.

        Need a drink?
  Wassailing was usually done by a group of "rowdies" who had imbibed too much Samhain ale.  They gathered weapons, stones, and cider and went out to find the largest apple tree around.  They fired their weapons or stones into its branches to frighten away evil faeries, and drank to the tree's health and sustenance.  Today wassailing has come to mean the drinking to the health of anyone with a spiced punch prepared especially for this holiday.

Irish Galway Wassail
(Makes one large punch bowl - serve warm)

  • 1 1/2 cups water
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 6 baked apples, cut into small pieces
  • 5 egg whites
  • 1 1/4 cups granulated sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 2 teaspoons allspice
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ginger
  • 8 whole cloves
  • 1 quart ale
  • 1 cup cooking sherry
  • 1 cup irish whiskey
     Bring the water and cream to a slow boil and remove from heat.  Beat the egg whites well.  Thoroughly mix in all the remaining ingredients except the alcohol.  Allow this mixture to cool slightly, enough so that the heat from it will not crack your punch bowl.  If you have a non-glass container for your wassail, you can skip the cooling process.  Blend in the alcohol just before serving, and be sure to offer the traditional toast to the old apple tree.

        Pie anyone?
  As part of the harvest feast, pumpkins are served in many forms: cakes, cookies, casseroles, puddings, and breads.  But the best-loved and most familiar is the scrumptious pumpkin pie which adorns the harvest tables of both pagans and non-pagans from Mabon to Thanksgiving.

Granny's Pumpkin Pie
(Makes two nine-inch pies)

  • 3 cups cooked pumpkin (canned is fine)
  • 1 1/4 cups evaporated milk
  • 2 1/2 cups granulated sugar
  • 1/2 heaping teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 scant teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 rounded teaspoon allspice
  • 1/2 rounded teaspoon cinnamon
  • 4 well-beaten eggs
     Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.  Mix all ingredients thoroughly and pour into two deep, unbaked pie shells.  Bake for about 50 minutes, or until a knife comes out of the center clean.

Dont forget to leave a libation of food out for ancestors
and other spirits by arranging it on a small tray or plate
and placing it outside one of your lighted windows.  It was
this custom of leaving out food which evolved into our 
modern day 'Trick or Treat'

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Some information - The Sabbats, Edain McCoy