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